The Product Photographers — Photography and business

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Product Photographers 0

POW is a daring new business model; simple, clean imagery at half the price a traditional professional photographer.

We can offer professional quality imagery at half price a traditional commercial photographer, with the same quality because we have a workflow that is geared specifically to these simple looks.  We understand that many businesses just need simple, beautiful images of their products on a simple background to post on their commerce websites, layout in their catalogs, send to potential buyers and distributors.  

We admit it, what we do is not fancy compared to our local commercial/advertising photographer friends.  A professional commercial photographer will give you any background you want, place it in an environment with models and action, they can make it explode with splashes and pepper it with garnish and style it to with all sorts of custom things.  

The Creative Vs. The Catalog

Looking at the Aveda website, for example, the local pro-photographer's image is on the splash page, it sets a mood and gives the essence of the products and the companies.  However, when you click on a category to actually shop for something like shampoo, that's when POW comes to town and saves the day with those simple product pictures that you need to sell those individual products.  



POW is a great cost cutting way to get the most out of your budget by dividing up the highly creative images that brings in the customers (Them) and the great catalog imagery (POW) that closes the sales.


We don't think of ourselves as competition with our local pro-photog friends, let them have all the fun with the creative things. We focus on one thing, catalog/ecommerce product photos for the masses and we do that one thing very very well.

The Shopify Network...priceless! 1

WEBSITE DEVELOPEMENT


Products On White opened its doors almost 7 months ago, but before launching we spent countless hours debating on what platform to launch on.  How could we provide our service to the masses easily both for our customer and us?  We even toyed with the idea of hiring a developer to create a site and backend solution from the ground up.  After countless hours of working with a developer and hundreds of dollars we begun to realize there had to be a better solution, something that was already established we could build off of.  That’s when we stumbled upon Shopify.

 

THE SHOPIFY NETWORK

 

We quickly ditched all efforts to build our own e-commerce solution from the ground up and signed up with Shopify.  We teamed up with a web developer and Shopify and customized our Shopify site to our specific needs hoping to make our site even easier for our customers.  After several months and several test runs, we finally launched our site with some mild success.  It was then that we realized that Shopify provides its customers with much more than an e-commerce solution; it provides a whole network and community of like-minded business owners.  We began utilizing Shopify’s forum for advice and promotion.  We even wrote in the “Just Launched” forum, which to date is one of our biggest traffic links.


WELCOME TO SHOPIFY


To my business partners credit, one of the smartest moves we made since establishing our business model has been going with Shopify to provide our platform.  Not only for their e-commerce store front solution but almost equally important, their Shopify Network.  

Google Display Network Indesign Template 4

At POW! were here to help the small business owner any way we can.  Marketing is important and Google adwords is the phonebook of today. So having a strong presence is important.  Creating a beautifully designed Google Display Network Image campaign is cumbersome, but it makes a huge difference for your website and business.

When working on POW!'s GND campaign, I was looking for an Indesign template that had all the sizes pre-made and ready to drop stuff into it.  I couldn't find anything.  So, I made my own and now I give it you.

It's got all the sizes, in order as they are on the adwords uploader, so that when you export them, you can just go down the list and keep track:


300 x 50

Mobile leaderboard

468 x 60

Banner

728 x 90

Leaderboard

250 x 250

Square

200 x 200

Small square

336 x 280

Large rectangle

300 x 250

Inline rectangle

120 x 600

Skyscraper

160 x 600

Wide skyscraper



A few tips to remember when designing:

- View it at 'actual size', so that you can see the stuff as it would on a real screen.

- Export as a jpeg high or above.  The limit is 50k each image.

- The template is saved in an indesign cs5.5 format on a mac, so if you have problems sorry.


If you end up using the template and like it, let me know or if you really like it you could add a back link in your website or blog.

If you need product photography for your campaign, don't forget about POW!


CLICK THIS LINK TO DOWNLOAD


Product Photography Pricing Solutions 5

 

Getting photography can be difficult, here's some great solutions!

Starting a new business and becoming an entrepreneur is one of the most difficult and exciting things you could do in your life. It takes more than just making the product and expecting everyone to just magically want it. You need to market it and sell it.

Photography is just a single step in the marketing process, but a very important one. First impressions are everything in the consumer world and a photograph of you product gives that first impression. It can be sole determinate on whether a consumer will buy or pass on an item. Companies invest huge money on trying to make their products look better than their competitors and i've seen the results.

One company i know of had their entire catalog rephotographed and redesigned to have a cleaner and more modern look to it. Their other catalog had been photographed by a friend of the business and designed by a friend as well. The marketing executive convinced the owner to raise their budget to accommodate using a design firm for the new catalog and a professional photographer. After the catalog was released they saw un-uptick in sales by 20% immediately.

Here we'll discuss some options on how to get photography and why we at Products On White, started our business that addresses some of these hurdles.

Option 1:

Shooting it yourself

Where as this sounds like a great idea, it's typically not. Let's face it, not everyone was born with a creative eye, but photography is a little more than that. There's a lot of technical knowhow that goes into photography. For example which Fstop is the best aperture to use when shooting a product and what sort of shutter speed will you need. If your using flash, what sort of modifier should you use and how do you meter it to get the best exposure. Different types of products often times need different types of lights, which one is the best? Certainly, digital photography has made this process a lot easier, but it hasn't made the fundamentals of photography any simpler.

If you're dead set on shooting it yourself or at least trying, you may find yourself racking up quite the bill to discover that the quality of imagery your getting isn't exactly up to par with your competitors. Heres a good link on how to set it up 

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/product-photography.htm

First thing you've got to get is a camera ($400 - $2000) and a lens. Preferably a longer lens that can shoot at a high fstop is useful so that the entire product is in sharp focus.

Next you've got to get some lights. Our lighting setup at POW is typically 5 lights, but that's just how we do it. There's a million different ways to light a product and some work better than others. If you doing it yourself, you may want to try using window light and a fill card (a big white card). Sometimes people like to recommend using one of the white tents but we've found that those lighting tents render an image this lacks a dynamic quality of light and flattens out the image too much.

So after you've got all the equipment, and you've got your images, most images require a little bit retouching to bring out their best qualities.Every image requires a little bit of retouching, mostly cleaning up the surface around the image. This requires a little bit of photoshop knowledge.

The estimated cost of shooting your products yourself are based on mid range photography tools. Keep in mind, the real gamble is that your products might not end up looking that great if your not knowledgable on how to use the tools.

Camera: $600
Lens: $1000
Light Tent: $100
Lights: 2 x 500
Photoshop: $600
Total Estimated Price: $3300

This is quite the gamble to take, but if you can make it work and you have a lot of products to shoot than it might end up saving you money.

Option 2:

Having Your Uncle Do It

Ok, this is sort of a funny way of putting it, but as a photographer I hear the phrase "My uncle (or other family member) just got a new nikon, I think were going to have him shoot our wedding (or other important thing) for us." all the time. Having a great camera, doesn't necessarily make a great photographer and this is especially true for products. Product photography, when photographed in a professional way, is highly technical in nature and can be a little tricky. I don't know if i'd trust my uncle to craft the primary sales and marketing image that represents my company and brand.

Option 3:

Using Craigslist

Maybe it goes unsaid, but using craigslist to do anything can be a bit of a gamble. You have no idea who your going to get. It might be a seasoned professional or it might be a guy with a camera. Make sure they have a portfolio of work that meets your standards.

Often times I see people posting that they need (for example) 75 products photographed and they have a budget of $500. Don't expect to many professional to respond to something like this, because the rates are well below market rates. Chances are at this rate you'll find someone like in the example above who is just trying to make a little money from their new camera.

Option 4:

Hiring A Professional

This is always the best option. A professional photographer easy to find too. If i was looking, I would start my search at www.workbook.com . These are the true industry professionals. You will get the best images this way, custom tailored to whatever your hearts desire. You get to be there at the shoot and approve every shot as it comes in.

The main draw back is the expense. A typical day for a professional photographer starts at $1500 a day and ranges to $2000 a day. If you take into account all the overhead (studio cost, lighting, photography gear...) and the time to produce the shoot, this comes out to be about fair. Negotiating a usage contract for the images. This can be particularly confusing and frustrating if your not used to it. By law, the photographer owns the rights to the images they photograph and license the images to you. This licensing is an additional cost based on what your going to use it for ($0 - $100,000??). Usage Story 

On a professional shoot there will typically be other expenses involved, like a photo assistant ($250 -$400 a day). If there's a lot of products a prop stylist might be used ($250 -$400 a day). If there's a lot of images and products being shot, all that needs to be organized as it's shot and be prepped for retouching and a digital tech may be hired ($400 - $600 a day). If there's a lot of people coming to the shoot to watch, a production assistant might be hired ($150 -$300 a day). If you want to build a set, theres the cost of the set and cost of people to build it. If there's a location involved theres the cost of the location to rent ($1000 -$2000). Lets not forget retouching, which is traditionally $75 - $175 an hour.

In a hypothetical situation, lets say I'm a small business owner that has 20 products that needs photographed on a white surface to be used on a website or ecommerce catalog. Easy. How I would estimate this project is as so:

Photographer Rate: $1500
Usage: $500
Assistant: $250
Retouching: $600
Estimated Total Cost: $2850

In this case you, get what you paid for. The most amazing product photography money can buy exactly the way you've always dream it being.

Option 5:

Working with Products On White aka POW!

Sure, this is a shameless plug, but we've crafted our business to address all the frustrations we were seeing with small, new and medium sized businesses were having getting simple product photography.


First, the quality of the imagery had to stay as amazing as it would if wewere hired on a custom professional job. Through testing and planning, we decided that by limiting the backgrounds to 1 of 4 setups, we could still have the maneuverability to craft light on an object in a way that still maintained a style that is unique and professional in quality. This also helps us shoot faster and with consistency. This keeps cost down, which we pass on to the customer.

Second thing we did was get rid of the usage thing. Usage is confusing, frustrating and just plain pisses most people off. So where as we still own the copyright, you are automatically licensed for an unlimited time, for whatever you want, where ever you want.

Third thing we did was make it a flat rate per object being photographed. This makes it easy to budget with and easy to sell to a boss. There's no confusing a flat rate.

We also wanted to make it assessable if you only had 1 or 2 products you needed photographed. If you were to hire a professional, you would still pay a full day rate to get those products photographed. That didn't seem reasonable.
We wanted to make it simple to order and take out all the hassles that you would find with negotiating back and forth with a professional, posting and rooting through a craigslist ad responses, having to figure out how to use all the new gear you've purchased or trying to figure out how to tell your uncle that his pics aren't making the cut. We made it as simple as humanly possible. You can order on the site, the type of background you want, the size and write a little bit how you'd like it photographed and just ship us the items to be shot. It's that simple.

We believe in making the photography side of your business easy and affordable. So check out our site at www.powphotography.com

The Competition and taking photography for granted. 1

 Our doors at POW! have only been open for a little over a month and so far so good.  We’ve had a wide range of clients big to small, clothing to beauty and all have been amazed with the imagery we’ve been producing. And with that said I would like to take the time to compare the quality of imagery we produce and to help you find the right solution for your product photography.  Many people take photography for granted, especially with digital photography now allowing anyone to become a "photographer."  But when it comes down to selling your products, it will be your images that will make or break your sales.

A good example of this is a recent story done on CBS's Sunday Morning on pet photography for animal shelters.  Now I know what you're thinking, pets aren't products.  Well watch this video and then tell me what you think.



Adoption rates soared, and every pet photographed by a professional photography was adopted within days! See what a difference professional photography can make!  It can make all the difference in a shoppers perception of your product.  Whether it be a shoe, a diamond ring, or a wiener dog; if your products are photographed by someone who cuts corners or pays no attention to the detail in lighting your product, your sales will hurt. 

So what we can take from all this is taking your photography for granted can cost your business tremendously both in sales and reputation.  If there is one thing a product oriented company should take seriously, it's how its shoppers see their products.  And there are several online photography "studios" that claim they can solve that for you and for CHEAP....

Many of these "Studios" claim to be professional photographers, in a professional environment providing professional quality images.  But few can actually produce quality images.  So we suggest before choosing your photographer for you products, take a close look at their images, not just the bottom line and ask the following questions.

Do they use a light tent to photograph your client’s products? 

At POW! each item we photograph is lit for that specific item, paying attention to the texture and details of the highlights in the product.  If an item is photographed in a light tent, you’ll get nothing but a muddy, flat looking picture, like this.


Pay attention to their website and how it looks.

Just like any website, it should appear professional, both in look and in content.  At POW our product is our Photography.  You should feel comfortable with what you see on the site.  You should be able to contact them by phone, email or their website.  And naturally, their photography should look AMAZING!  Because, ultimately, you want AMAZING photography for your business and in turn AMAZING sales!

Some examples of websites that seem to provide an "affordable" service but upon further inspection may not be the solution you are looking for are ProductPhotography.com and Product Photography 4 Less.  Both seem simple, cut and dry solutions for your product photography.  And they may be, but they both fail to sell you their "product" from a visual standpoint.

Price shouldn't be your only determining factor.

Now, I've owned and operated my own business for years and if anything I understand that keeping costs low is necessary.  However, there is a tipping point or a line to cross in every industry where trying to cut costs can at some point be detrimental to your profits and your reputation.  Your product photography is one corner that should never be cut.  While there are some studios out there that offer product photography for less than $10 an image, I can assure you, you'll get what you paid for and then some.  But trying to save some up front cost, you loose 10 fold in sales.


So, next time you consider going with that craigslist photographer who will shoot all 100 of your products for $100, or that online studio who will photograph all your products in a light tent.  Take a step back and consider the bottom line.


Here are few photos from some of our clients from last week.  Enjoy!




 

 

 


The Value Of Good Photography 1

It is clear, that a great photograph can sell a product better than a bad photograph.  Great photography is more than just a pretty picture, it is good for the brand equity of your business showing professionalism and seriousness.  A great photograph of you product can also add sales value to that product.

In a study by Redfin, a real estate company, they compared the ratio of sales price to listing prices of homes shot with point and shoot cameras (aka– non-professional photographers) vs that of homes photographed with professional camera (aka- professional photographers).   The professional photographs helped gain a 47% higher asking price per square foot, 61% more page views and increased likely hood of selling higher priced homes.  In short, better photographs helped sell more homes for more money. 

(Redfin uses real data and shares it all on their site if your feeling distrustful.)

Where as, a home is not technically a product, I think it is fair to say that the same principals apply to products.  If it looks nicer in the picture than your competitors, you’re probably more likely to buy the nicer one.

 So do yourself a favor, and stay away from the photo light tents and get the best photos you can afford.