How Much is Product Photography Costing your Business?

Let’s face it, product photography is not a fun task however it is critical to any business who wishes to communicate physical products online. Not only is product photography tedious, it demands countless man hours – typically from a higly – wage employee who has enough knowledge of photography and the important variables required to obtain a professional quality result. In this article, I will discuss the standard internal photography workflow of the small business, the time and cost businesses dedicate to product photography and the benefits Photosimile will provide any business whether large or small.

The standard product photography set-up usually consists of some sort of lighting environment, a white backdrop and a digital camera. These set-up’s can range in price from as low as $250 to tens of thousands of dollars for more complex set-ups that include the highest quality equipment. Regardless of how elaborate the equipment and no matter what the initial investment, an employee knowledgeable in product photography and lighting will be required to operate the system. This employee resource cost will always trump the initial investment so it is very important to consider operating expense in addition to equipment cost. Let’s discuss the standard workflow as broken down into three parts:

Image Capture:
Image capture will consist of product placement, adjusting lights, optimizing camera settings, snapping the product shot and reviewing the photo for quality. Typically this takes one or two test shots before a workable image has been captured. As mentioned before, the image capture portion of product photography gets quite tedious for any business that has numerous SKU’s. In addition, it is no longer enough to shoot just one single view of a product. Multiple angles and additional reference points are required when communicating products online, which significantly adds to the cost of product photography.

Image Upload and Sorting:
After image capture, the images need to be uploaded to the computer for final review. This is another labor intensive activity. Since the look and feel of the web site is very important to the buying process, someone will need to view each image and make selections based on picture quality and consistency. Inevitably there will be some pictures that looked great on the 2 x 2″ viewfinder, but didn’t quite turnout as one would have hoped. For those product shots, it will be back to square one; picking the product out of inventory and re-shooting. If one took a safer approach and shot 2 – 4 images at each angle to ensure one will work, the workflow is no better. Not only has more time been taken to capture the images, but it also takes more time to select the best shot. For example, for 50 products that each requires 3 different angles – that’s a total of: 50 products x 3 different angles = 150 images x 3 (“safety shots”) = 450 individual images to upload, compare and evaluate for consistency. This will take hours. It’s important to get the right shot the first time.

Image Processing:
After selecting the master images, it is now time for processing. Image processing will include renaming each file, resizing, cropping and for some businesses masking (isolating the product from its background and changing background color to pure white). Image processing will be the most demanding step in the product photography workflow as it will require multiple steps for every single image.

Till Next Time…

Now that image processing is complete, the images can linked and published on the Web. All done right? No! Going forward there will be more products to shoot and the whole cycle will repeat. Any changes that can be made to make this process more efficient will have a huge impact on profitability.

There has to be a BETTER WAY

Reviewing the workflow outlined above, we can see how demanding product photography can be on business resources. Product photography is not going away; in fact it’s becoming more important to online success. For some businesses, outsourcing is an option. It removes the burden from the employees but can be expensive and introduce scheduling and ‘loss of control’ issues to the process. Finding a way to keep product photography in-house, but with a better solution, seems to fit most businesses the best. One available option is Photosimile, a computer-controlled photography system. Let us look at how the use of a Photosimile studio has allowed businesses to save tens of thousands of dollars each year through workflow optimization and by simplifying product photography.

What is a Photosimile Product Photography Studio?
By seamlessly integrating several existing technologies into one computer-controlled system, Photosimile simplifies and automates product photography capture, sorting and processing to create an optimized workflow for business photography. Photosimile studios come in several sizes for shooting jewelry to live human models. Each system features the same basic components:

  • A self-contained, uniform lighting environment
  • A compatible digital camera (sold separately)
  • System control software (Remote Capture/Image Processing)
  • The ability to upgrade the studio to create 360-degree product animations

DSLR Remote Capture Software Included
The Photosimile system control software is the heart of the system. It controls the lighting environment, picture taking, image editing, processing and every aspect of a compatible Canon or Nikon camera. Photosimile Product Photography Workflow Optimization – Image Capture/Image Uploading and Sorting are Combined: Photosimile standardizes photography and controls many of the variables that make product photography difficult and inconsistent. By controlling the camera through a computer, image capture, upload and sorting can be combined. Several workflow benefits can be gained from this.

The Right Light
To compose and capture a product shot with the Photosimile system, the user will simply place an object inside the Photosimile studio – this will provide perfectly-balanced, daylight lighting that will ensure a professional result every time. The symmetrical design and uniform lighting inside the studio also makes is possible to take shadow-free pictures.

Real Time Preview – Know the results before taking the picture!
Next, the user will select “Preview” inside the software – this provides a real time view of what the camera sees on the monitor screen – that is, users see how the picture will look before it is even snapped. This helps ensure consistent composition and product positioning, as the preview can be easily compared to previously captured pictures.

Full Camera Control via Software
Changes to camera settings (aperture, shutter speed, exposure, ISO, white balance and more) also appear onscreen in real time. For example if the preview appears too dark, changing the camera’s shutter speed (one simple mouse click) in the software to let more light into the sensor makes the onscreen preview lighter. Simply from here users will manually Zoom In/Out camera (if required), then using the “Crop” feature pre-crop around the object (no longer a need for cropping in post production software) and then hit Snap.

Immediate Results – Automatic Image Download
The product shot is instantly cropped, captured and uploaded to the Photosimile viewer in a couple seconds for high resolution viewing, editing and saving. Users can instantly proof images to ensure for quality. With Photosimile, when the product is removed from the lighting environment, users already know they have the angles and quality needed. There is never a need to re-pick a product from inventory for re-shooting.

Operation Costs
The time dedicated to Image Capture and Upload/Sorting has been dramatically decreased by ~80 – 90%. Even better, most low wage employees with 30 minutes of training can use Photosimile to efficiently capture great product photographs.

The Image Capture workflow is now streamlined and combined with Image Uploading and Sorting.

Image Processing:
Resolution adjustments, image resizing and renaming can be done in a batch process with just a couple simple clicks of the mouse. There is also an editing tool that will give users the ability to make color adjustments in a batch process in seconds and a “Program Link” button that will allow images to be instantly transferred into any third party editing software. Cropping is no longer necessary, as it was done before the picture was taken.

Because the images were taken inside a daylight balanced, controlled environment and are shadow-free, the amount of editing required for color accuracy and background removal are significantly decreased.

Overall, between processing and editing, Photosimile customers can expect to decrease the time dedicated to getting a good image by approximately 60%.

The Bottom Line
Save your business money! In-house product photography solutions with proven track records of reducing the time and effort spent to take professional pictures are available. It is no longer a requirement to have highly skilled, high wage employee(s) handling in-house product photography. Photosimile is an investment in a smarter photography workflow that will provide recurring ROI with every picture taken over the lifetime of your business. To find out more please go to www.Ortery.com or give Ortery a call at 949-859-5580.

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