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 highly – wage employee who has enough knowledge of photography and the important variables required to obtain a professional quality result.
In this article, we 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 setup 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:
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.
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.
Still Not Done
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.
Reviewing the workflow, 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 of 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