Testing E-commerce photos for new clients

One of the most valuable strategies for getting ready to shoot e-commerce with a new client is a test shoot. I almost always will recommend (or even sometimes insist) that a brand do a few hours of test shooting with me before we dive into their inventory and shoot all of it. The test shoot is my way to make sure I am giving the client the shots they need with the right consistency for their website. It is also how I double-check my per shot estimate to make sure that it is on track with the quote I gave.

My e-commerce photography clients range in size from  less than 100 to 10,000+ shots a year (yes, I shoot a lot of inventory). The test shoot might be the most important shoot I do for those clients in our whole relationship. It is where I will lock in the lighting, styling, pre production preparation, retouching, and file delivery for everything we do moving forward. I usually ask to see some examples of what the client wants the final images to look like. After seeing those, we discuss the files they like and why. Then I get my hands on items to test shoot and we schedule the time. One of the nice things about my workflow is that the client doesn’t have to be present while I do the test shoot. I can run a screen share via Skype for example and I shoot tethered. So the client can be discussing with me each shot as they appear. This has been a  huge help because now art directors around the country can be hands on in the test without actually having to get on a plane.

It’s after the test shoot that I start in on the actual e-commerce photography for the website. Sometimes as fast as the next day or later that afternoon we can get the ball rolling for clients. In the e-commerce world, inventory that hasn’t been photographed is money lost so moving fast is critical. That test shoot lets me build realistic time estimates for clients so they know how fast the files can get back to them.

To the photographers reading this, whether you shoot portraits/weddings/anything it’s always a good idea to run a test shoot. Any big advertising gig’s I’ve ever had I dedicate a day in my studio with whatever team I need to work out the kinks of what we will be shooting. My husband has had to jump in front of my camera many, many times while I confirm lighting for a portrait to make sure the settings are where they need to be. A very good goal to have in photography is to make sure the time with the client/on the clock is used as efficiently as possible so test what you will be doing!


Example of testing lighting/angles for e-commerce on handbags:


Then the same shot but without reflection so client could choose:



And finally, an example of how the client decided to use it:e-commerce_Photographer_Handbags3



New work all over the place!

I’ve been working my tail off, as is the trend when the blog goes silent. But I promise I have been thinking about blogging. Some of the big updates, I’ve hired a fabulous part-time assistant and we have been training and shooting like mad. At first, it’s a little tough because so much training has to happen but then quickly you realize that your time has become way more efficient and you are able to take more clients and jobs than before. The side effect of course is with so much new work the blogging gets pushed to the back of the to do list.

I did find time though to give a quick interview with the folks over at Glamniac which published today! I’m pretty sure this is one of the more narcissistic things you can do, give interviews about yourself and then promote them on your blog, but at the same time I have my mother in town and her comments of never knowing anything that goes on in my life inspired me to publish this anyway.

If you’ve ever interviewed me or talked to me about my work the info is probably very familiar. But it’s still fun none the less to mention! The post also helps me recognize it’s time for a new bio picture…. the bangs were cute but my hair grew WAY too fast to keep up with them (I mean, come on, you see how often I find time to blog, hair is not high on my to do list).

A special thank you to Kat for the flattering introduction and making sure I didn’t sound terrible in my answers!


2013 Miami Photographer “That’s a Wrap!”

Congratulations on making it through another year! 2013 was a great year of working with long-standing clients and some awesome new ones too! Thank you to everyone who used Kate Benson Photography in 2013 and I hope that 2014 proves to be one of your best years yet.

In 2013, I photographed all kinds of things. Excitedly at the start of the year there were ad campaigns, lots of portraits, and products, while at the end of the year a big e-commerce photography push came in which really kept me busy. So during 2014, my resolution is to use my time as wisely as possible. Update my website (a frighteningly overdue project that keeps getting pushed to the back of my to do list), blog with at least a little more regularity, and shoot some personal work are all on my list. Seriously, I think some of those were on my 2013 resolution list as well. Does anyone ever do their resolutions? I’ll have to find out in 2014 I guess!

Stay tuned for a great 2014~




Miami Product Photographer | Reviewing the Snugg Case

About a week or so ago a company called The Snugg reached out to me to see if I would review their cases for iPads/iPhones/Kindels/Tablets/Smartphones/etc. So because I have so much free time (can you hear the sarcasm in my typing? Or did the no blog post since July give it away that I’ve been slammed) I agreed. It’s long overdue for a blog post anyway and so I was hoping that this push to review the case would also get the ball rolling again, only time will tell.

I have an older model iPad, the case on it before was a slim one that I grabbed from the Apple store when I bought it. At the time I figured it would protect the iPad if I dropped it and that was pretty much all I needed. This is where it needs to be mentioned that the anticipated use of the iPad was slim. Credit card processing, maybe playing Pandora while I worked, that was about all I figured I would use it for. Oh no. I was so very wrong there. Not a day goes by that myself or my husband doesn’t use it for something and the Apple case I bought at the time has since shown me that while it functions and does stop the iPad from breaking, that is about all it will do. The stand is wobbly at best, but pretty useless and I still have to carry a bag full of business cards and other items to meetings.

Enter, The Snugg Case.

TheSnuggBack TheSnuggOpen TheSnuggExecutiveCase

I opted to try their Snugg Executive Case iPad2. It has a super sturdy stand, an attachment for a pen and room for my business cards and promos. I didn’t think it would make life as much easier as it has, but wow, what a difference. An actual functioning stand is underrated. Even if you don’t use your iPad for work, say you just want to be able to follow a recipe, the screen on that iPad shuts off constantly and you are always having to wake it back up. Being able to do this with one hand so you don’t cover your iPad in flour or whatever other mess you have on one of your hands is really awesome. In a meeting, my clients don’t accidentally knock over my iPad anymore when they lightly touch the screen to point out something. Having the ability to not carry a bag full of other items (pen/paper/business cards/promo’s/etc) is really awesome too. Showing up to the meeting organized tells the client I’ll be organized on the shoot too.

So with the holidays right around the corner, whether it’s a gift for your household iPad or you need to write off a little more this year (although this case is super affordable compared to what a similar case would cost at Apple) I do highly recommend The Snugg.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Miami Product Photographer | Kate Benson | InStyle Magazine

A fun little update! I was just sent an email from one of my clients Donald J. Pliner, letting me know that one of my shots was used in the “Very Important Piece” section of InStyle Magazine for the July 2013 issue. Thanks to the team at DJP for the share!



Workshops in Florida | Photography Workshops – Kate Benson Photography

I enlisted the help of my intern Nadia to put together a list of different Workshops in South to Mid Florida which may be of interest to the photographers and enthusiasts in the audience. We broke them down to levels and included the details of each Workshop. To be honest, I don’t think anyone can go wrong signing up for workshops. It is a place where we can network with other photographers as well as find deep learning. I’m sure we just scratched the surface with this list so if anyone has recommendations of other Workshops in  Florida or has comments on any of these workshops, leave a comment. I would love to hear from you and I’m sure the rest of the audience could find it useful too!

In no particular order other than experience levels:

What: Break Out of Auto Mode Workshop | www.photoworkshops.biz
Experience: Beginners
Where: 210 Almeria Ave. Coral Gables, FL (Photo Workshops)
When: Contact 305-740-5401 | 305-305-5823
Instructor: TBD
Requirements: DSLR camera, camera manual, lens.

Here beginners will learn how to break free and use other settings besides auto mode with their cameras. This is class where you will be able to learn how to be more comfortable and confidant using your DSLR. There are only twenty spaces per class, so it would be a good idea to call for scheduling and make sure you have a space. ISO, aperture, shutter speed and all the basics will be covered in this three hour course. You should be prepared to have your camera, your cameras manual and your lens when arriving to this class. Workshop materials, drinks and snacks are included. $150.00 per person.

What: Composition in the Field | http://www.digitalphotoacademy.com/workshops/workshopInfo/8691#WorkshopWorkshopInfoForm
Where: Miami, FL | Greynolds Park
Level: Beginner
When: Sunday Sept 15, 2013 10 am – 1pm
Instructor: Bernardo
Requirements: $99

Test and push your cameras capabilities with the direction and assistance of your instructor. This course will be a three hour session of shooting strategically and using all of your cameras capabilities to the fullest. You will be able to improve the quality of your photographs and it will give you a stronger foundation for shooting more advance photographs in the future. Each workshop will begin with a lecture and a questions and answers segment.

What: Inside the Frame Photography Workshop | www.selby.org
Level: Beginner
Where: Selby Gardens Sarasota, FL [941] 366 – 5731
When: Call for details Instructor: TBD
Requirements: Bring whichever camera you wish to experiment with (Polaroid, camera phone, DSLR, point and shoot etc…)

In this class you will learn the importance of taking a good photograph regardless of your gear. Having high quality equipment is always a plus, however, great images can be made using all different calibers of equipment. Composition and having a creative open mind will determine how one can take a compelling image. You may bring your DSLR or a point and shoot to this workshop; whichever gear you want to experiment with. The subject focus of this course; people, places and things.

What: Lightroom and Digital Photography | www.workshop.org
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Where: 415 Clematis St. WPB, FL Sponsored by the Palm Beach Photographic Center (561) 253-2600
When: Nov 14 -16, 2013 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
Instructor: John Reuter
Requirements: $775

In this course photographers will become better acquainted with lightroom features and using it as a resource for retouching and organizing photographs. Creating catalogs, applying copyrights, and metadata are some of the topics the instructor will go over. They will also go over the vast improvement of lightroom and how it can improve an array of different images you may be working with.

What: Lighting Essentials | www.calumetphoto.com
 When: Saturday July 20, 2013 and also 8/10/13, 8/31/13, 9/21/13, 10/12/13
Where: 1001 N. Federal Hwy, Ft. Laud, FL 954-522-6500 | Calumet Photo Studio
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Instructor: TBD
Requirements: $65.00 Camera, paper and pencil

In this workshop students will be able to learn and understand the effects of studio lighting and how to effectively use them. The instructor will also go over a wide array of tools and equipment that photographers use in studio lighting. Students will receive a workbook in this course so they can follow along through demonstrations. Modifiers, fill light, portrait lighting, and location flash fundamentals will all be discussed.

What: Miksang Photography Workshop | www.miksang.com
Experience: All levels
Where: Hyatt Place 104 N.E. 2nd Ave. Delray Beach, FL
When: Aug 30, 2013 – Sept 2, 2013
Instuctor: Dennis Connor Email: miksang@dennisconnorphotography.com
Requirements: Must have your own camera and laptop to bring to this workshop

Different perspectives can create much different images of the same subject. It is always fascinating as an artist to see other photographers perspectives of the same thing; thus this is also true throughout different cultures – perspectives change. Miksang Photography is an Asian perspective of Photography; the Tibetan word that literally translates as ‘Good Eye”. Perception based photography with a simplified eye; sometimes so obvious we as a western society don’t necessarily hone in on it. All levels are invited to join.

What: Lightroom 5 Workflow | sethresnick.com
When: July 23rd -July 26 9am – 5:30pm
Where: 1143 Vinter Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens FL 33410
Level: Intermediate or above
Instructor: Seth Resnick + Jamie Spritzer
Requirements: $1099.00 You must bring a digital camera that shoots raw, lap top (PC or MAC), flash card, card reader, external hard drive (2), Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CS6 is suggested.

This course is recommended for intermediate to pro level students who will get a broad understanding of Lightroom 5. Course fee does not include meals or any transportation.

What: Canon EOS Emmersion Workshop | Seminar http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/events_calendar/event_details/cll_events/20131019_tampa_seminar_cll.shtml
When: Oct 19, 2013 10 am – 6pm
Where: University of South Florida | Tampa | College of the Arts – Theatre 1 3839 SF Holly West Tampa, FL 336
 Level: Advanced
Instructor: Jeff Green + Shannon Levy
Requirements: $89

This workshop will be full of lectures and demonstrations. You will be able to take full advantage of your cameras features while shooting an array of subjects and learning what setting to use for each one. Lighting will also be discussed at length and how utilizing it correctly can enhance the creativity of your images. Most of the content in this course is related to Canon. There will be time set aside for questions an answers as well. Emmy award winning journalist Shannon Levy will go over the capabilities of video. She will discuss frame actions, structor, angles, composition and video technique.


Miami Photographer | Kate Benson | Wallpaper Wednesday

Also from my sailing trip I posted about on Monday, is this week’s wallpaper Wednesday! FYI, if you’re not yet, consider following me on Instagram where you can constantly see photo’s there that are not viewable anywhere else, click here: Kate Benson Photography.

copyright Kate Benson Photography INC 2013

copyright Kate Benson Photography INC 2013


Miami Travel Photographer | Kate Benson Photography | Sailing with the 50mm 1.2L

I’ve been daydreaming this summer. The lenses I’ve had have served me well but it has been quite a while since I added one to my collection. When I needed a special lens, I rented them from Borrowlenses.com. But I have a rule, don’t rent the lens 3 times. So I started lusting for the 50mm 1.2L Canon lens. The Bokeh is untouched (in my opinion). But I could only find the willpower to resist for so long and the lens arrived.

As I’ve written about before, I don’t usually shoot while being social. My brain has a hard time switching back and fourth which leaves me in the work mode full time and not always very communicative. But when my husband and I were invited to come along for a moonrise sailing picnic, I couldn’t resist bringing along the new beauty.

Few things in life are as relaxing as sailing on calm waters with light breezes. Add in good company, tasty food, and a few beers, you can imagine the relaxation deepens. As we casual sailed around Biscayne Bay between 79th st causeway and Bal Harbor causeway, I found that the 50mm was everything I hoped it would be. As the light grew dim, the 1.2 f-stop preformed great. The weather did not preform as well forcing me to tuck away my gear and switch out of work mode to relax and chat with good friends. I highly, highly recommend investing in prime lenses as soon as your budget allows. It’s easy to be lazy and just zoom in or out and primes will keep you on your toes will delivering stunning results. Bellow are some of my favorites from the day, a combination of portraits and details. As we sailed, I spotted another photographer with a 600mm chasing another sailboat around to get shots, maybe next time I’ll have to try that. But if he or she knew anything about light, I’m sure that other photographer was not disappointed as the light was truly beautiful.


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Miami Advertising Photographer | Kate Benson Photography | Hiring a professional photographer in miami

Production. Pre-production, the production of the day of shooting, and post production. Yes, it is all a production. In the city of Miami, there are many aspiring photographers. Also, there is a trend within Miami to always say “I can do it, no problem”! Whether it is a home repair or a major ad campaign, Miami is a tricky city to hire someone in. Maybe I’m thinking of this today because of all the work done on my house last week, and all the things that weren’t done right and now require more time and work to fix. But in the city of Miami, you’ll rarely here anyone say “I don’t know how to do that”. And it’s part of the charm of the city! People truly WANT to be able to do it all. They want you to relax and not stress while they help you get done what you need done. But in a city, when everyone says they can do it, how do you find out who really can? At least in photography the devil is in the details.

Which brings us back to (you guessed it), production. It’s what you can’t wake up and know how to do. You can be a very talented photographer, but if you can’t organize a shoot your not going to go very far. Granted, there are clients who know all about production. Clients who either have in house production staff to do this work or already know who they will outsource it to. Because when they say seconds of shooting takes hours of planning, it’s not a lie.

That said, reasons my clients love working with me is that I am always able and happy to help with production. I don’t expect my clients to all know how a photo shoot comes together, that would be unreasonable! So part of my job is to see what they want and need for images and then make sure on the day we shoot we have everything we could possibly need to get those images into my camera.

A good case study of this was a client of mine who had about two weeks to replace their existing ad campaign. This client was spending serious money on advertising and to learn that in 2 weeks they would no long have the license to any images was a huge blow. They needed Billboards, online ads, magazine ads, website images, a complete brand makeover, and it had to be done in about two weeks start to finish. And this is where they started to see why working with someone who knew the industry already was better than taking someone’s word for it that they “can do it, no problem”! Because there are always problems. A professional photographer knows how to roll through those problems and quickly find solutions to keep you on deadline. But if a photographer doesn’t know production, doesn’t have relationships already with a team of people, the client suffers. We would cast models only to learn they booked a ticket home (this was towards the end of the Miami modeling season) and were no longer available that day, we had stylists pulling clothes that weren’t what we wanted, we needed equipment flown in from out of state, just to name a few things. But because I have 7 years of this business under my belt we were able to watch closely as the days leading up to the shoot unfolded and catch each issue early on to fix it.


But production is more than fixing problems, it’s anticipating needs. I can see the creative direction from the examples and mood boards sent and know what we need to do this job well. In the above case study, I encouraged hiring 3 models instead of 2 (the client knew he wanted 2 particular models, the 3rd was a blond that I suspected would fit another need they hadn’t identified yet). The 3rd model ended up being the favorite and the one who was on the Billboards. We needed 5 shots with different outfits total, but the client ended up choosing 7 and licensing extras and because we shot over 10 looks they were able to get more to work with. The retouching happened as soon as the client made the selections and they were able to switch out their Billboards and run their new adds seamlessly. It’s a beautiful thing when fast, well shot, creative work happens. But if I hadn’t been who I am, if I was still green, any single small issue we hit could have derailed the shoot. It’s about knowing more than your clients do about the shoot. If you ever find yourself working for a client who knows more than you about what your doing there, look out. Odds are they don’t know that you aren’t more experienced and that truth always surfaces.

But being a photographer isn’t about putting your client down either. Please, don’t misunderstand me! It’s about anticipating the clients needs before they realize they have them. It’s in the details. And that is why a handy man with a camera isn’t the best choice for photos that are important. Because in this business, going back the next week to fix a mistake is easily thousands and thousands of dollars. I wouldn’t want to be on the other side here in Miami, it’s hard enough to find someone to repair your sink because of the false confidences. A sink, which is just a few bucks compared to a photo shoot. And when it comes to photography, more and more people are picking up cameras and trying to strike it rich, like some misguided gold rush, promising that they can take a great picture and pull off a monumental shoot with no work/worries/involvement fromt he client. I’d say that is the first red flag, if they don’t know what questions to ask and just tell you they can do the shoot. That’s when it is time to re-evaluate who your hiring. And then, well, call me ;-)


Miami Product Photographer | Kate Benson Photography | Riide/inc Miami shoot

Two weekends ago I was contacted by my friend who is starting a vintage car/motorcycle restoration company called Riide/inc. He had two vehicles that he needed shot on that weekend as one of the two (the Nissan 280ZX) had already sold and was going to the client Sunday afternoon. We played with different ideas but knew we wanted a location shoot; so we broke out Google Earth and started browsing for the right location (truthfully, we then gave up on Google Earth and I called my friend who works for the Florida Trail Association and he told me where the spot was with everything we wanted). This weekend we’ll be shooting more for Riide/inc as they already have a great inventory of vehicles, but here are a few of my favorite shots from the first round.

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