02/2/15

Miami E-commerce Photographer | Zacasha jewelry

Over the course of a week, we worked for Zacasha, a prominent jewelry designer with necklaces and bracelets at upscale stores. Our team consisted of Kate, Kristin (her assistant), Jennifer (the designer), and Jennifer’s daughter. Together, we worked to create the story of this gorgeous jewelry.

The pieces have an elegant Bohemian feel to them. The beads and tassels are so unique, and yet they work really well in groups. We decided it was best to tell the story in groups and develop a dreamcatcher effect.

We were lucky enough to get a few of the fabulous pieces. We wear it everywhere and everyone loves it! We get constant compliments on the necklaces and bracelets, with questions about where to get them.

These are some of the photos used on Zacasha’s website (http://www.zacasha.com/)

Miami E-Commerce Photographer Miami Jewelry Photographer 4 at 4.08.30 PM Miami E-Commerce Photographer Miami Jewelry Photographer 6 at 4.08.59 PM Miami E-Commerce Photographer Miami Jewelry Photographer 7 at 4.07.45 PM Miami E-Commerce Photographer Miami Jewelry Photographer at 4.09.35 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In-house we decided to experiment and play around with the backgrounds to really make them pop. This is what we came up with:

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Here are some behind the scenes photos from the shoot:

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Kate shooting Zacasha.

Photo: Kristin Stickels

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Working with Jennifer to style the product.

Photo: Kristin Stickels

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We took advantage of the studio space for organizing all the necklaces.

Photo: Kristin Stickels

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A closeup of some of the jewelry we were about to shoot.

Photo: Kate Benson


01/27/15

E-commerce Photographer Miami | How to Produce a Professional Photo shoot, aka “What the heck do I do now?”

Everyone has to start somewhere. Chances are good that if you are reading this blog, you are wondering what the heck do I need to do to produce a photo shoot? It’s OK! No one will tell! In fact you can message me with any questions you might have. My goal is to help my clients or anyone who finds themselves needing to produce a photo shoot. Ready? Here goes!

When planning a shoot, there are a multitude of things to consider in order to make your shoot successful. As the saying goes, “The devil is in the details.” Here are ways to plan out those details to make for a successful shoot. While this is a list of important items to keep in mind, the descriptions are purposely broad with some specific examples given; your distinct needs for your shoot will require you to refine, add and/or subtract items as necessary.

Some of the very first things to take into account are your budget, due dates, the shot list, and usage. Identify the budget for the shoot, and determine how rigid it is. This will help shape the decisions you make regarding the entire production. How much flexibility do you have if unexpected costs come up? Due dates are crucial to keep in mind. When are the images needed? Understanding your time frame will allow you to work backwards in creating a schedule. A shot list is also imperative. Brainstorm what photos you will need. Does your product need to be shot on-model and/or still life? Do you need various angles of each item? How many total images do you need of your product(s)? And don’t forget to keep in mind the usage. How will your photos be used? For advertising? Internally? On the web?

The next thing to plan is the art direction. This is something that can be done in-house or outsourced, but is a significant aspect of your production. Art direction involves sourcing inspiration for your photos (I suggest collecting visual examples for this), making sure the photos line up with your company’s image, and ensuring that the photos convey the mood and environment that you want your product(s) to have. And, of course, this all dictates the type of photographer that you will use. You wouldn’t choose a nature photographer for an action shot of a model, for example. Which leads us to the casting…

Your next step involves casting and determining the details of the actual shoot. Your casting may include hiring models, stylists, hairstylists, makeup artists, and, of course, the photographer (to name a few). You may also need to hire a professional retoucher for post-production. Some photographers can do their own retouching, but it is important to determine whether they can do it well. You then need to ascertain whether you will be using a studio or a location for the shoot. If you plan to shoot on location, you will need to obtain permits or permission to use the site, and you should have a back-up plan in case of weather issues. You also need to consider your set. What inanimate objects will you need to complete the shot? What wardrobe or accessories might you need for the models? Is a manicure necessary due to close-up shots of a model’s hands?

Within the location details (whether on location or in studio) it is essential to plan food and beverages for everyone at the shoot and possibly transportation to and from the site. You may even need to provide lodging for the clients, models and/or the crew, depending on the location.

Image selection is an important part of the process. This can occur either on set or after the shoot. If the photographer shoots tethered to a computer, you can see the images immediately as they are shot. This gives you the opportunity to select your images while on set, and it also allows you to confirm that you have everything you need before the shoot is done.

After the shoot has taken place, there is still work to be done. The post-production work includes file management (naming, re-sizing, and delivering the images as digital files), as well as any retouching that may be required. When budgeting for your shoot, it is important to determine whether these costs are built into the photographer’s fee or will be charged additionally.

After taking all of this into account, the big question is can this all fit into your budget? If the answer is no, it is time to re-evaluate some aspects of your plan. Can you get a higher budget? Can you be more specific in your usage? Can you reduce your shot list? What can be done in-house?

And lastly, don’t forget about payment. When are people expecting to be paid? How long will it take your company to pay?

So, here is a quick checklist to help you plan your shoot:

budget
due dates
shot list
usage
art direction
casting
shoot details
location details
image selection
post-production work
payment

Just remember, this is a list of important items to keep in mind, but the descriptions are broad. You will need to tweak the list depending on your own needs for your shoot.

Here is a handy flowchart for your reference:

HowtoProduceaPhotoshoot

11/4/14

E-commerce Photographer South Florida | The Picture Sells the Product

Sometimes it’s hard to justify the cost of e-commerce photography, especially when the product will be photographed on a model. Instead of just paying for the photography, the client will need a whole team to produce photography that will sell products. That means (in some cases): photographer, model, hair & makeup (not always one person for both), stylist, assistants, location, catering (if the shoot is going to be a full day), etc., etc., etc. It’s hard to imagine getting all that on the budget that most startups have.

So, how can you make the photo shoot worth it? Considering that a startup has a smaller budget, the goal would be to shoot less product perfectly, rather than shooting all of your product in a mediocre fashion. Think quality, not quantity. It certainly isn’t worth wasting the budget on sub-par shots. In the world of e-commerce photography, if you can’t do it right, don’t do it.

Recently, I came across a photograph of a swimsuit I liked. The still life shot looked really good and it was selling to me.

Super cute swimsuit photograph, still life.

I even don’t mind the wrinkled fabric in this photo.

So I decided to follow the link to the website where I could buy it. Once there, I saw more shots of the swimsuit, including some that were on model and I really, really liked the swimsuit!

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Here we see how nice the back detail of the swimsuit is…

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Another photo to show that the swimsuit is reversible.

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An additional still life shot of the bottom shows the details a little better.

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This was the main (first displayed) on model shot of the swimsuit

But, unfortunately, it was sold out. Lucky for me the company had put the designer’s name on the swimsuit so I did a quick search to see if I could buy the swimsuit directly from the designer’s website. And that, my readers, is when I did a double-take. I could not believe it was the same swimsuit. The designer had different colors but I had NO desire to buy this product in any color. It looked terrible in the still life; all the various colored swimsuits were shot differently. On model it was unflattering as well.

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I don’t like these wrinkles.

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A different front and back still life shot than the others.

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Another very non-symmetrical shot of the swimsuit.

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Another version of the laydown still life.

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As you can imagine based on these photos, I’m not sold for a lot of reasons. Let’s look at this on model first. The suit isn’t showing me the side details at all, her pose is awkward and not relaxed which makes me wonder if that is because the swimsuit isn’t comfortable. This isn’t clear to me that the swimsuit is reversible here. I can’t figure out why I’m not seeing the back of the light blue swimsuit (it takes me a while to figure out that the dark blue is the outside of the light blue swimsuit and that is what I’m seeing).

The still life images vary quite a bit. One shot makes the bottom look uncomfortably small. The straps are all different on the tops and it just looks messy. The description on the image tells us the color of one side and the bungee but not the reversible side which makes me wonder if they are all reversible , especially for those whose color is closer to skin color. Or, in the case of the palm print suit, I have no idea if it is even reversible.

I can only imagene the return on investment (ROI) for the first images was astronomically higher than the ROI of the second set of images. I’m sure the budget for the first set of images was also much higher. So to be fair, this is a “you-get-what-you-can-pay-for” situation.

Now, here’s what I would have done. If the client didn’t have the budget for great shots in all colors, I would have recommended that we shoot one swimsuit perfectly, then shoot color swatches of the details for each alternative colored swimsuit. If the budget allowed for it, I would say shoot that swimsuit on a model because the ROI will be bigger. If the budget didn’t allow for it then shoot one perfect still life and, if possible, one group shot with each swimsuit stacked showing the detail of each swimsuit displaying the bungee, the color inside and the color outside.

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Not exactly the crop I would use, but you get the idea.

This would save time (and hence, money) by not having to style the whole swimsuit.

So there you have it. My two cents, from an e-commerce photographer’s perspective on what to do to optimize your e-commerce photography ROI.

07/21/14

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:

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

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

 

12/30/13

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~

 

 

04/10/13

Kate Benson Photography Miami | Jewelry Photographer | Editorial shoot for Inspirato Magazine

In February I had the pleasure of working with Inspirato Magazine for the first time. They are a great team and need a Miami photographer to capture a group of jewelry pieces from designer Loren Jewels. Funny thing, when I went to her website I saw she was the designer of pieces I had been lusting after on Pinterest (cigar band ring, yes pleeeeease). So naturally I was very excited to be the photographer for the shoot.

Some of my favorite moments came from the challenges of the styling the image. The pieces were shot on large leaves that were not even close to lying flat, causing issue after issue. But the excitement of solving these issues (how to get earrings to look perfect while they are sloping down the side of a leave, without knocking over the ring or bracelet delicately balanced on the same leaf) made it a very fun shoot!

Here’s the shot!

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04/9/13

Kate Benson Miami | E-commerce Photography for Shoe Designers

I’m getting ready to send out my first email blast for e-commerce photography. This is going to be geared totally towards shoe companies and what I hope to do is show some new companies what they are missing out on by not outsourcing this (to me, of course). We all have things we are better at when it comes to taking pictures. I did not know that shoes would be one of the things I just get. It is really ironic because 1/2 the time I shoot, I’m barefoot. But there is something really beautiful about the design of shoes that I respect. So today, draft after draft, I have started writing my email. I want to make sure it will still have my voice in it. But how do we as photographers write original marketing pieces that sound professional? Where is the line of familiarity drawn? I don’t know these people, but I want them to get an idea that I’m a friendly, easy going, photographer who can make life so, so much easier for them. What images do I include? Lastly, how do I write this so it doesn’t sound forced?

Of course this is the day my husband does training and so, alas, no bouncing emails off him. Do you think it’s an abuse of the ASMP leadership list to email all the members and ask them to check my grammar? Don’t worry, I will only toy with the idea. Your VP knows that no one reads those emails anyway. Ha! Just teasing again!

Well, moving onwards and upwards, here is a little angle compilation shot of some of my typical e-commerce photography for shoe designers. I’m no graphic designer but what do you think? Hopefully this along with some clever writing will capture the interest of many shoe companies that don’t know what they are missing!

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03/15/13

Kate Benson Photography | Miami Photographer | The chaos.

It feels like March just started. Actually, it feels like it is still February. I have lost all concept of what week it is. I know there is a lot of traveling coming soon, but how soon is a blur because I really have no concept of where we are in the month anymore. All I know is that I have been busy. Like, the busiest ever, and it is great! I’ve been shooting everything from editorials for magazines in Colorado to Billboards and TV commercials. Portraits, e-commerce (like crazy), and more portraits have eaten up March. To be fair, I suspect they ate quite a bit of February up too. And speaking of eating, who has time for that? I knew I was forgetting something today!

My blog is neglected as a result. But that is probably the best excuse for neglecting a blog you could have.

My studio is destroyed. I still have an umbrella open on the shooting table, stuffing for bags everywhere, steamers out (but off), lights everywhere, lenses everywhere, etc… because as soon as I shoot, I jump on the computer to bust out the retouching as fast as possible. I can’t be cleaning up! There is no time for that!

But I’m getting it all done. I think I can thank RISD for the ability to handle choices like, work, eat or sleep without any issues (work unless your work starts to suffer because your too hungry, work unless you eyes aren’t focusing anymore and then take a 20 minute nap -no more, no less, 20 is the perfect number). And also for my ability to make anything with a box cutter and some cardboard (actually had to use that skill yesterday while shooting some vintage Chanel handbags). The RISD alumni out there get that all too well.

Really, I can’t wait. I can’t wait for the moment a client gets back to me with his/her selections and I get to dive in and retouch it. I can’t wait to share some of this stuff on my blog and website! I love seeing the way an image finalizes. I love retouching because I have so much fun shooting and I get to explore those moments again in post production. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to do this for a living!  Meeting new people is such a wonderful part of what I do, I find myself smiling while I work on their images, happy to have had the chance to capture a piece of who they are or of what they create!

And now, that moment is here. I hear the ding of my email telling me it’s time to get back in. Maybe I’ll grab a cliff bar and some more coffee first though.

 

12/28/12

2012: Miami Photographer | Recap.

2012: A year of tremendous growth as a photographer and for my business. One of the highlights of the year was being elected to the position of Vice President to our American Society of Media Photographers South Florida Chapter (ASMP-SoFL). I felt missing connections to other photographers in my Miami life. Part of the reason I left the Boston area was because I couldn’t connect with any of the other photographers there. But through ASMP-SoFL this year, I met some truly amazing photographers and people who I consider friends now. Helping run the chapter was enough to keep anyone busy, there was a huge learning curve and coming to the board for the first time, then being voted in as Vice President, it was a trial by fire for sure. But worth it and I’m excited to keep working with ASMP-SoFL in 2013. I also have to thank 2012 for a barrage of new clients. Working as a photographer means spending a lot of alone time in the studio/in front of the computer/etc. Getting to meet new people, new clients, and interact with them is a huge highlight of being a photographer. This year I had the pleasure of starting relationships with so many wonderful people. People I would be thrilled to spend time with off the clock as well as on. I know I had a blessed year when not one of the clients who hired me did I have a difficult time with. So thank you to all who found their way to my studio this year! Not to be discredited, my existing clients. Year after year I’ve had the pleasure of watching some small businesses become big companies, some big companies transition gracefully, and I love all of it. These clients come year after year, month after month, and some week after week and are the lifeblood of Kate Benson Photography. If their companies suffer, so does mine. Happily 2012 was a great year for them as well and I congratulate all of those amazing teams of people for doing so well and being so awesome to work with. Naturally, no one knows what is in store for the future. I’m optimistic that 2013 will be another great year. Life can change a lot in a year, businesses can change even faster. I hope for everyone to have a Happy New Year and pray that 2013 will bring happiness and fulfillment to you all!

01/30/12
womens_e-commerce_shoes2

Ecommerce Photographer Miami

Welcome to Monday. My day has started with retouching the 422 photo’s I took of shoes Friday. I’m completely beat from running the Miami ING 1/2 marathon yesterday and I am booked Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week. Glad that the fashion accessories e-commerce photography business is booming but also have to laugh a bit at the “when it rains it pours” truth in my life. Next week is also scheduling up really full and all I want to do is take a nap! I’m only 307 photo’s away from that nap…. Which basically means I’ll be working through the night. But after the changes that have happened 2012 so far, I’m happy for the work and to be busy is always good for a freelance photographer.

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