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Producing images for an ecommerce store

Producing images for an ecommerce store

Producing images for an ecommerce store 860 489 Border Crossing UX

Commissioning and producing high-quality images that really sell a product online isn’t as simple as it sounds. Forget the subjective arguments over what makes a truly great product shot it’s the cost and logistics that’s a killer.

For instance, if you have 25 different t-shirt designs, each of which comes in 4 colours then all of a sudden you’ve got 100 pictures to take. Assuming it takes 5 mins to stage and take each image that means it will take 500 minutes to complete the product range. And that doesn’t even factor in post-production work. This is a pretty tame example but it should indicate that something that sounds fairly straightforward can soon turn into a mountain of man-hours.

shirtsmyway.com Product Shot

Confronted with the substantial costs of hiring a professional to do this many store owners try to take on this work themselves. The problem is that without the requisite skills, experience and equipment this can often turn out to be a false economy.

So I’ve listed the options we urge people to consider when they need to source high-quality imagery for a new store or product range.  As always the relevance of each option will be dependent on your specific needs and resources.

Studio shoot

You hire a professional photographer to do a shoot at their studio. This would mean you would have to send over all of the products you wish captured. The selected photographer would then set-up, produce and optimise all of the images required.

Benefits:

  • option to commission original and distinctive images
  • guaranteed quality
  • quick turn-around once the project is scheduled
  • opportunity to employ a local provider who you can build a long-term relationship
  • option to attend and participate in the direction of the shoot

Risks:

  • cost/time to source the “right” photographer
  • expense of hiring a professional photographer
  • scheduling issues
  • copyright and terms of usage need to be negotiated

 

On-site shoot

You pay a professional photographer to come to your location. They would charge you for travel time and potentially equipment hire in addition to the cost of a studio shoot. The quality of the final imagery will be dependent on the suitability of your location for a shoot. A maximum shoot time of 7 hours on-site per day should be expected.

Benefits:

  • convenience
  • option to attend and participate in the direction of the shoot
  • opportunity to employ a local provider who you can build a long-term relationship

 

Risks:

  • cost/time of sourcing the “right” photographer
  • expense of hiring a professional photographer
  • scheduling issues
  • inefficiency (paying for travel time)
  • quality dependent on specific location and availability of the required equipment
  • location specific issues (that can’t be assessed till the photographer is on-site)
  • copyright and terms of usage need to be negotiated

 

Pack Shots

You send your products off and pay a company to take standardised quality product shots in their studio. This can include 360 degree animations and creative compositions although this will incur a greater fee. Pricing is per shot required and no additional hourly rate is charged. Quality is assured but distinctiveness is not.

Benefits:

  • cheapest option per shot
  • quality assured
  • fast turn-around time
  • clear/unlikely copyright restrictions
  • modern technology offering you 360 animations and full lightbox production

 

Risks:

  • standardised imagery potentially lacking distinctiveness
  • cost of postal and packaging
  • no ability to monitor in real-time
  • products may not be suitable

 

A Hardware Investment

For larger stores and product ranges it is worth considering the purchase of a Packshot Creator that would allow your team to take the shots you require in-house. There are even models that allow you to create interactive product animations without the need for extensive training.

Benefits:

  • cost-effective over the long-term
  • asset on the balance sheet
  • potential additional revenue stream
  • low-to-no learning curve

 

Risks:

  • up-front expenditure
  • damage
  • depreciation
  • operational inefficiency of hardware investment
  • products may not be suitable

 

Making the right decision

Deciding on which is the right option for you will more often then not be driven by budget. We always recommend investing in professional photographers where possible but in many cases this simply isn’t an option.

Even if budget isn’t an issue, the time commitment that will go into sourcing the “right” photographer may well be. As you will have to spend time going through portfolios, developing a brief and allocating time to help with the shoot. That said, if you get things right the quality of images you can end up with would be far greater then any of the other options we’ve outlined.

The cost-savings packshot services offer are hard to ignore. But the somewhat commoditised output of these tools really does reiterate why photographic talent comes at a cost – and in some cases it is certainly worth investing in. Taking on this work in-house by investing in hardware would only make sense for store owners with suitable product ranges and a very high number of products.

If you can find the “right” photographer for your needs then invest in them. Otherwise take advantage of newer technologies to get things done as quickly and cheaply as possible whilst maintaining a certain quality standard.

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