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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Still Life Photographer Miami | but before I give these back, let me just shoot one more thing…

One of my clients is the fan-freaking-tastic eyewear designer Christian Roth. I adove (adore + love = adove) the stylish sunglasses and eyewear they create and the team, Christian Roth and Eric Domége, as well. I’ve enjoyed photographing their product and even been able to capture Christian and Eric in front of my camera for Miami Modern Luxury Magazine.

 

They have flattered me using the images I shot for them on their blog and Instagram:

Used my other portraits of them in other publications and blog:

And of course, their catalog and product shots on their website:

So I’ve had my hands on their product to photograph quite a few times now and I fall more and more in love with it each time. Yesterday, I found myself with a few free moments. October has been my busiest month to date. ever. So I was shocked I had a minute. Naturally, I used this moment to shoot! I am returning product to the boys tomorrow so if I didn’t get these beauties in front of my lens one more time I would cry.

Here are some of my shots where I just enjoyed my freedoms to shoot what I saw, how I styled and lit. Completely sans art direction. Enjoy…. (and please forgive that I haven’t retouched these at all, there wasn’t THAT much extra time!)

New E-commerce client

I’m so excited to add Cosabella to my client list! We’ve been shooting tests and perfecting the look for the website. Today I noticed the first pieces from our shoot went live! I have to say, I love being an e-commerce photographer. I know it’s not for everyone, but until you trouble shoot the styling and lighting of items like fine jewelry, sunglasses and bras (yes, I’m adding bra’s to the list of most complex items to shoot) you can’t know the rush of getting it right! Here are a few screen shots of my work on the site. Most of the corresponding pieces are also my shots! Enjoy and thanks Cosabella! I had a blast working with you and hope to do so again soon!

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 Product Photographer Miami | Kate Benson Photography Miami

Good morning and happy Thursday! Yesterday there was no wallpaper Wednesday because I was shooting and retouching all day. One of my favorite things to do is to actually shoot and finish retouching in the same day. There is something about it that makes me feel like it was the most perfectly complete day when I get to do that. Most (if not all) of my clients already know that about me. They know I love getting their images retouched and back to them right away. I remember about 11 years ago, Sam (my husband) was working for John Hancock in a windowless office, at a computer, on a never ending project of searching for keywords in notes on some massive court case. It was his first internship at Northeastern University and he loathed every day of it. He said that no matter how fast he worked, there was no end in sight and because of that, because he could never see his effect on the project, it was incredibly disheartening. I counted myself lucky that day because I selected a very different career path and instead was blessed to be able to see my effect on a company every day. Sometimes I even get so lucky as to see the sales sheets of before my photography was used and after. That is one of the most rewarding (and rare) moments, because I can see how much I’ve helped. I’ve been shooting e-commerce for so many years it’s down to a science now and I can pull off things like shooting and retouching in the same day. Actually, it would be more often than not that I do that. Only on days with very late starts or super high volume of shots (400+) do I need more time. But even then, I still try and get it finished the next day ;). I love hitting the weekend knowing that no one is waiting on my to finish a project. Then I can enjoy my weekend and shoot for me, paddle, swim, spend time with Sam and friends. If I have an unfinished project is whispers in my ear until I finish it. To be fair, I was also always that kid who did her homework as soon as it was assigned. My favorite was when we had some class time to complete it in because I would set goals for myself to complete it before the period was up and still ace it.

But enough talk about my somewhat OCD nature. Here are some pictures from this weeks e-commerce clients. A little something for the ladies, and a little something for the gentlemen. Enjoy!

 

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!