In house photography, training and helping photographers to improve

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Garry Edwards
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I’ve been thinking about starting this thread for a while now, and this thread has prompted me to actually get on with it…

Now, there’s nothing wrong with people doing their own product photography, in house, and sometimes they have no choice, for various reasons. One common reason is that they are taking photos of either work in progress or finished, unique items that would cost a fortune if they brought in a pro photographer, this Silkblooms thread is typical of that scenario and is one of the success stories of our forum, it worked because the person concerned was willing to learn, and willing to spend money to get it right.

And another common reason for doing the photography in house is that in today’s business world, nobody can survive, let alone grow, with just a small number of products on sale – they need hundreds or thousands, and today’s e-marketing world requires that they have, in addition to a main shot, loads of detail, close up and angle shots too, The costs of getting in professionals to do this is beyond the budget of most.

And, sadly, another reason for doing the photography in house, as reported to me many times, is the abysmal standard of photography of many who claim to be professional. Some of them are just hopeless, but many are very competent, gifted even, in their chosen field, but their field isn’t product photography and they just aren’t capable of doing it to the required standard, which unfortunately doesn’t stop many of them from taking it on. We can’t blame the clients from hiring wedding, event or portrait photographers for product photography, they have no way of knowing whether they can do the work well, and have no way either of knowing whether the example photos on their website were even taken by them. And the result? The client hires a “professional photographer”, is thoroughly disillusioned with the quality and so brings the job in house.

Also, there are plenty of “Packshot factories” that photograph products on a production line system, usually employing untrained ‘photographers’ on minimum pay. Their work tends to be reasonable in terms of technical image quality, but they know nothing about lighting and anyone who tries to do it better, can. Product photography isn't about flat lighting and almost zero cost, it's about cost effective marketing and:
1. Having a clear concept of what we're trying to achieve, and what we're trying to sell
2. Making that product look appealing, so that people want to touch it, and of course in order to touch it, they need to buy it.
3. Choosing the right angle for the main pic
4. Choosing the best camera position
5. And finally, producing the right lighting for the needs above.

I can’t completely blame the photographers either, because it’s very difficult to learn. Back in the day, when I started out, I served what was effectively an apprenticeship in a large firm, and when I eventually left there I took on what I now realise to be a series of training jobs in a lot of different studios, until I felt able to put up my own brass plate and go it alone. Today, these large firms don’t exist, and there are no jobs available. Instead, we have YouTube, there are a few good training videos on there but the vast majority are rubbish, and are often deliberately deceptive, for various possible reasons, and often the reason is to persuade people to subscribe to their paid video training courses. There are, in reality, very few trainers out there who are actually good enough to hack it as working pros, and generally those who are good don’t make videos because they are too busy doing well paid photography. Many of the rest of the trainers, to use one of my favourite expressions, are just lost sheep masquerading as sheepdogs.

Let me tell you about one of my clients from years ago. This was a large furniture manufacturer that employed about 1000 people. They were my biggest client, because they produced 3 editions of their lavish brochure each year, and I spent a total of 11 weeks each year doing their photography. In today’s money, they paid me about £165,000 a year, and I provided one assistant. That wasn’t the end of their costs, because everything was shot on large format cameras, with innumerable polaroids, plus processing, plus they supplied two labourers to move the furniture around, and someone from the sales office to advise. It wasn’t any easy job, because their stuff was pretty traditional and didn’t change much, in fact often it was almost the same as for the last brochure, with maybe new handles or a different finish. It was my job to make everything look exciting and new. Also, every single items was made specially for photography, to a much higher standard than normal, and when the photography was finished it all went to the boiler house. Back in the days of plate cameras and no computers, everything was as shot, with no retouching, no image manipulation, so there were could be no mistakes and the lighting had to be perfect.

What helped me enormously was that their ‘studio’ was truly massive, the ceilings were, from memory, about 25’ high and I had all the shooting space I needed, and could put my lights exactly where they needed to go. We used all four corners, two for dining furniture and two for bedroom furniture, in both traditional and contemporary roomsets, and then every few days the ‘rooms’ would be painted a different colour too. It worked for them, and it also worked for several of their smaller competitors, who also hired me.

I used to aim to photograph two roomsets per day, plus all the usual closeup and detail shots, so I suppose that they had no more than about 40 different ‘new’ products. Today, as I said earlier, most sellers have hundreds or even thousands of SKU’s, so things are very different for the sellers.

So, that’s why firms are dumping professional photographers and doing it in house, and they are helped enormously by technology – pretty well every camera today can produce OK image quality, and can do so at high ISO settings, which makes powerful lighting redundant. And they then use image editing software to put their mistakes right. Of course, you and I both know that editing software should be used to enhance photographs and to turn good shots into outstanding ones, not to rescue bad shots, but it isn’t just the ordinary Joe who gets that bit wrong – most of us do the same, and there is even a well known lighting company that relies on retouching to turn shots that they claim to have been taken with their lighting modifiers, but which were clearly not, into shots that look good. These fraudsters also tend to photograph beautiful models, where it’s difficult to produce bad shots. I can understand why they don’t photograph tins of baked beans, but I would be more impressed if they did. Whatever you may think of me, one thing is undeniable – when I have hosted (free) lighting workshops on product photography, I have asked attendees to bring along whatever it is that they want photographed, and all of the lighting and other decisions have then been taken on the spot, and people have seen exactly how it’s done, honestly, in real time and with no retouching carried out at that time.

Another thing that really p***es me off is the widespread, and often inappropriate use, of hotshoe flashguns for studio photography. Now, for the reasons stated above (high ISO capability and image editing) this can work, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as using the right tools for the job, studio flashes designed to accept beauty dishes, honeycomb grids, large softboxes etc.. As I see it, one of the problems is that too many people just don’t seem to understand the purpose of photographic lighting, which is to create the right shadows in the right places and from the right direction, instead they think that it’s all about producing enough light to press the camera button, which once again is down to training and learning. And another problem, as I see it, is that there are product placement websites out there that tell people that any flashgun can do anything. It can’t. And alongside the continuous questions about hotshoe flashguns, triggers and the like, there are also innumerable posts from people who want to know whether a particular crap softbox or flimsy lighting stand can be bought more cheaply than the one that they’ve found on Amazon for £9.99...

Coming back to this thread, it took a while to get going because it took a while for the OP to tell us what the actual subject is and what he is trying to achieve. But, in the end, we had to give up because it became very clear that his employer doesn’t value his efforts, doesn’t value photography and isn’t prepared to do any work or spend any money in order to get photos that would very obviously improve his sales. Personally, assuming that the information that we have is correct, I would like to educate his employer with the toe of my boot, but in reality all that we can realistically do, as a lighting forum, is to support people who ask similar questions, and so I propose that people who are faced with doing in house photography should ask for our help, and that they should also give us full details of what they need to achieve, of their current space, equipment and any other info that we need in order to help them. Possibly, the admins could even create a sub forum for this, and maybe they could even move historic threads into it. I think that it would be good to get this forum back to what it used to be, a forum where people could learn about lighting.

Your views?
 
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Jay
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Possibly, the admins could even create a sub forum for this, and maybe they could even move historic threads into it.
I think this is worth considering. Many of the relevant threads do not have clear titles, so people entering this forum for help prob find it hard to locate previous threads.

I propose that people who are faced with doing in house photography should ask for our help, and that they should also give us full details of what they need to achieve, of their current space, equipment and any other info that we need in order to help them.
This request for clarity and details could be put as a 'sticky' at the top of the new section?

get this forum back to what it used to be, a forum where people could learn about lighting.
It would be nice to see more detail in lighting replies, I have enjoyed the threads you have quoted Garry. To be fair though, I do think this is a good forum section anyway and its always interesting and educational.

Personally I would also like to see more posts about product photography in general as so much can be learned from it that relates to other photography.

Its a shame Garry you are busy saving the horses (an excellent and good use of time) as so little material is available from product photographers and similar high end work. There seems no where to go to learn as courses are either poor, non existent or way out of my price range and so few studios about who are looking for relatively inexperienced volunteers/trainees etc esp as I am not in the traditional trainee age range.

I wonder if at some point you might consider writing a book or putting together tutorials etc you have already done in various places, or doing some kind of downloadable or internet course. You are probably way too busy, but it seems to me there is a serious gap in the market.

But back to your suggestion, yes, a more defined area on this forum could be worth at least a trial run.
 
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Garry Edwards
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Thanks for your reply, and your thoughts.
I wonder if at some point you might consider writing a book or putting together tutorials etc you have already done in various places, or doing some kind of downloadable or internet course. You are probably way too busy, but it seems to me there is a serious gap in the market.
I have written books, a long time ago, they are now out of print.
I did also produce a series of 11 written tutorials, which in their day sold like hot cakes, but which were killed off by the free online tutorials and YouTube crap, because the current generation doesn't seem to think that it's necessary to pay for anything.
This was a long time ago, and although I believe that the content was good, the presentation was pretty poor because I'm more of a function guy than a form guy, and they are also out of date, i.e. they haven't been updated to reflect new technology. And I'm not going to update them either, far too time consuming, now that I'm out of things.

I'm wondering whether the potentially useful ones could be uploaded to TP, where they could be downloaded as a free resource - if the admins think that this is worth doing then I'm game, but it's up to them.

There are also the tutorials in the Lencarta Learning Centre, far less detailed but still useful, but unfortunately something has happened to them and all of the featured images seem to have gone walkabouts, and nothing has been done about that.

But, this isn't about me and there are other product photographers who can also help.
 
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I have written books, a long time ago, they are now out of print.
I did not know that. I wonder if I can find any 2nd hand.

I did also produce a series of 11 written tutorials, which in their day sold like hot cakes, but which were killed off by the free online tutorials and YouTube crap, because the current generation doesn't seem to think that it's necessary to pay for anything.
This was a long time ago, and although I believe that the content was good, the presentation was pretty poor because I'm more of a function guy than a form guy, and they are also out of date, i.e. they haven't been updated to reflect new technology. And I'm not going to update them either, far too time consuming, now that I'm out of things.
You are out of things in theory, but you must spend ages helping people on here, which is hugely kind of you. I think people now get paid for you tube videos via advert revenue, or sell videos / books / self published items direct to customers via thier own web site or Amazon. so I think 'free' is less prevalent now. I have liked your tutorials as you do not waffle about, just get on with it.

I'm wondering whether the potentially useful ones could be uploaded to TP, where they could be downloaded as a free resource - if the admins think that this is worth doing then I'm game, but it's up to them.
That would be really good, it could help lots of people.

There are also the tutorials in the Lencarta Learning Centre, far less detailed but still useful, but unfortunately something has happened to them and all of the featured images seem to have gone walkabouts, and nothing has been done about that.
Who owns the copyright on them? Can you reclaim them and publish them elsewhere as they are not being taken care of? I had wondered what was happening to Lencarta as I had assumed they would get staff to continue publishing on this forum - it was great customer care and good advertising for them. I have thought it an error on their part not to have someone officially posting now. I ended up buying my studio lights from Lencarta (via you actually) as I first heard from them here and was impressed by the customer interaction, so investigated them further and found they had a supportive web site and other good facilities for customers. I probably would have gone elsewhere but for the interaction on here. I have been wondering, prior to this thread, if their sales will drop because the company is dropping from view. Its a great shame if they are loosing training material from the web site, I cant be the only one gaining the impression their customer support is starting to dwindle. I am hoping to buy more studio kit within 2 or 3 years and had anticipated it would be from them, but maybe not the way things appear to be going.

But, this isn't about me and there are other product photographers who can also help.
No its indeed not all about you, but you are however someone with huge high end commercial experience and its fairly rare on forums. Its a shame Michael Sewell no longer posts training material on here much, as he covered a wide range of lighting - and Juggler posts fascinating project material, but biggish detailed project posts are not all that frequent from anyone at the present time. There is great support offered from all the lighting people on the forums who post to help answer specific questions, its brilliant of them and hugely supportive (a big thanks to all of you), but following through a project is slightly different.

I suppose I feel a bit sad as such a huge amount of skill and knowledge is gradually getting lost, rather like the incredibly useful formula for cement/concrete was lost for hundreds of years. My local Oxfam were automatically destroying any film related photography books as "No one uses film anymore." - completely unaware that the biggest users were now aged under 30 and growing in number quite fast. Yes, I did point it out to them.
 
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I am afraid that it is a fact of life that skills are lost when a trade falls into decline.

The number of fully trained and skilled professional Photographers has been dwindling away for years.
As I remember it, Industrial Photographers were the first to vanish. Closely followed by In house Photographers.
Fully skilled Commercial and advertising Product photographers, are now only found in the larger specialised Advertising studios of international agencies.

Photographic education has become academic, not practical or technical, and real world skills are no longer taught. As an entry point for a professional photographer, it is so far from addressing the necessary skills as to be neigh on worthless.

A majority of working Photographers are self taught, and never have had the opportunity to learn their skills from a master. Nor do they think it even necessary.

Photography, Like many other hands on trades, has become de-skilled. and the specialists have all but vanished.

Much of what is to be found in regard to on-line information instruction, is both incorrect and useless.
It is largely the Blind leading the blind.

Some Excellent Commercial Photographers are still to be found In Germany, the USA, and a few other countries, where Photographic training and education is still Highly regarded.
 
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Whilst I agree very much with that post @Terrywoodenpic, I think there are still some great photographers working in the UK, but there is a real risk of them dying out completely as the industry really doesn’t appear to have any form of succession planning.
 
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It is indeed a very sad and true fact Terry... When I joined the Photographic Unit of the NHM in London we numbered some 14 Photographers, at the height of the unit (late 80's) we reached a peak of 18 Photographers, when I retired in 2015 the unit was down to three, this year there will only be one left.

In the 1970's, education wise, we all needed to be qualified to C&G 744/745, most of us had further qualifications up to degree level, my specialisation of High Magnification specimen photography is virtually non-existent now (perhaps fitting for an institution that has a large collection of extinct animals) and is a situation that personally I find very saddening.

I do read with great interest the posts on here from the likes of Garry etc. mainly as an insight into another side of photography that I can try my hand at now that I have a little time on my hands. I am still involved commercially in my specialism and have followed up an interest I always had in printing.

Learning from someone who has worked in the industry is always IMO a pleasure, even if you simply read and inwardly digest the information that they distill... On occasion you get the impression that because you are old school then your knowledge must be too.
 
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Garry Edwards
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Garry Edwards
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Who owns the copyright on them? Can you reclaim them and publish them elsewhere as they are not being taken care of? I had wondered what was happening to Lencarta as I had assumed they would get staff to continue publishing on this forum - it was great customer care and good advertising for them. I have thought it an error on their part not to have someone officially posting now. I ended up buying my studio lights from Lencarta (via you actually) as I first heard from them here and was impressed by the customer interaction, so investigated them further and found they had a supportive web site and other good facilities for customers. I probably would have gone elsewhere but for the interaction on here. I have been wondering, prior to this thread, if their sales will drop because the company is dropping from view. Its a great shame if they are loosing training material from the web site, I cant be the only one gaining the impression their customer support is starting to dwindle. I am hoping to buy more studio kit within 2 or 3 years and had anticipated it would be from them, but maybe not the way things appear to be going.
Lencarta is in fact doing better than ever, and is growing rapidly. They have some very good people there, and are recruiting. The problem as I see it is that, like everyone else, they have to prioritise. My guess is that the problems with the tutorials has been caused by something in the back end settings, easily fixed but perhaps not the highest on the priority list. I'm sure that they will get it done as soon as they can.
I was never actually employed by Lencarta, the work is mine and so is the copyright, but I have no wish to reclaim what is technically my property and re-publish it elsewhere, I will just leave it to them to sort it out when they can.


I am afraid that it is a fact of life that skills are lost when a trade falls into decline.

The number of fully trained and skilled professional Photographers has been dwindling away for years.
As I remember it, Industrial Photographers were the first to vanish. Closely followed by In house Photographers.
Fully skilled Commercial and advertising Product photographers, are now only found in the larger specialised Advertising studios of international agencies.

Photographic education has become academic, not practical or technical, and real world skills are no longer taught. As an entry point for a professional photographer, it is so far from addressing the necessary skills as to be neigh on worthless.

A majority of working Photographers are self taught, and never have had the opportunity to learn their skills from a master. Nor do they think it even necessary.

Photography, Like many other hands on trades, has become de-skilled. and the specialists have all but vanished.

Much of what is to be found in regard to on-line information instruction, is both incorrect and useless.
It is largely the Blind leading the blind.

Some Excellent Commercial Photographers are still to be found In Germany, the USA, and a few other countries, where Photographic training and education is still Highly regarded.
I agree with most of what you say, especially the bit about the quality available in both Germany and the USA (I have worked in both of those countries).
Higher education in photography is indeed pretty useless (and especially in the degree factories) When I wasted my own time on this, we were taught by pro photographers (who may not have been brilliant but at least they had worked in the commercial photography world) but who couldn't teach, but then everything changed and photography became an arts subject, taught by art teachers who can teach but who seem to know little or nothing about photography - sad:(

IMO the reason why the trade has fallen into decline is the situation that I outlined in my first post - the world of e-commerce is generally working on tiny profit margins and vast quantities, with massive SKU quantities, and it is generally being run by people who don't value photography, they know that even if their photos completely fail to motivate their customers, some of them will buy simply because they are a penny cheaper than their competitors. Short sighted and unbusinesslike? Maybe so, but that's the way it is.

It's certainly true to say that the old school in house photographers died out a long time ago, but they have been replaced by largely unskilled in house photographers who often do the photography when they aren't doing their 'real' job of packing customer orders, or similar, and again it's because photography isn't valued by their bosses and often because their bosses have been ripped off by inadequate professional photographers, and of course digital cameras, LED lights and computer software make it easy to obtain results that they consider to be good enough.

But, let's not get too nostalgic about the good old days, because they really weren't good at all. When I started work for a large photography firm, their commercial photography department was hopeless. We never got a chance to meet with the clients, so had to guess at what they wanted us to portray. We were only allowed to take just one shot of each product, and if anyone wasted a plate they were at a real risk of being sacked. What this meant was that we were technically very good, but we weren't allowed to be creative. To avoid being sacked, we all used to put a bit of our own money into buying a box of spare plates, so that we could cover up the odd mistake. Today's photographers may lack training and technical knowledge, but (once we get away from the low standard in house product photography) they can and do produce much better work.

What I'm hoping to achieve with this thread is a way forward, so that the people who want to do good product photography can be helped to do so. My own view, FWIW, is that everyone should do product photography, if only as a learning tool, because if someone can produce a sizzling shot of, say, a can of baked beans, then they can do anything. Also, unlike people products don't move, get tired or throw a sulk, and the success or failure of every shot is entirely within the control of the photographer, it can be positioned and lit to perfection, the best training there is.
 
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It is indeed a very sad and true fact Terry... When I joined the Photographic Unit of the NHM in London we numbered some 14 Photographers, at the height of the unit (late 80's) we reached a peak of 18 Photographers, when I retired in 2015 the unit was down to three, this year there will only be one left.

In the 1970's, education wise, we all needed to be qualified to C&G 744/745, most of us had further qualifications up to degree level, my specialisation of High Magnification specimen photography is virtually non-existent now (perhaps fitting for an institution that has a large collection of extinct animals) and is a situation that personally I find very saddening.

I do read with great interest the posts on here from the likes of Garry etc. mainly as an insight into another side of photography that I can try my hand at now that I have a little time on my hands. I am still involved commercially in my specialism and have followed up an interest I always had in printing.

Learning from someone who has worked in the industry is always IMO a pleasure, even if you simply read and inwardly digest the information that they distill... On occasion you get the impression that because you are old school then your knowledge must be too.
I worked in a number Of areas of photography. Working Firstly in a Large Photographic studio in Madrid. Owned by a very large department store. We did all their Photography including twice yearly mail order catalogues. and also took on Commercial and industrial photography work for other large businesses. As the only qualified and trained photographer, I started as their senior Photographer (a great first proper Job). When I returned to England, I worked in a glamour studio for six months Prior to finding more suitable work Specialising in Shop fittings and Interior Photography, where I covered many of the Large and famous stores in the UK and a few on the continent. It was here that I added Lithographic printing and Graphic design to my arsenal, when I was asked to set up a department for this.
My next venture was when I decided to move out of London, and became Chief Photographer to the now defunct SkyPhotos who specialised in photographing shipping and Ground Photography. My next moved entailed both Retail, studio, commercial and wedding Photography. I then had a break, and set up a wedding Business, and also worked three days a weeks, setting up and running a print (litho) unit for the now also defunct Eggs Authority. That led me to work For Marley, as Print manager for a number of years, but still doing Photography on my own account. My final move was to Bradford College as Print and Photographic manager for my final ten years.
By the time I retired I could both do (hands on), and manage, everything From Typography and graphic design, Photography, Pr-press, Lithograph printing, High speed digital printing, and all finishing processes, Using the most modern equipment. As a side effort, I taught myself, and wrote our own costing and estimating and budgeting program, to produce data for our accounts.

It is amazing how interesting and where a career in Photography can lead.
 
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What the OP writes is largely correct, but the good news is that I am seeing an upturn on this.

A few years back I was experiencing 'issues' with clients trying to do things in house and with cheap and or low skilled photographers. I kept hearing the from clinets that the images were only for web use and they didn't seem to care much about technical quality, composition or lighting. I kept hearing the same from low skilled photographers who thought they they could get away without pushing things.

But in the last year or two its totally chnaged and gone full circle. I have so many clients coming to me who are telling me that they are fed up of working with low skilled photographers, that they need quality above what their rivals are producing. I keep hearing some quite angry complaints about photographers who cannot deliever what they've promised. Someone recently told me they had to throw out a photographer who turned up to shoot her products without any lighting at all.

In the same manner I'm experiencing clients wanting a much higher level of styling, perfect consistency and so on.

On a technical basis, fast internet speeds, high resolution, retina displays and many product websites having 'zoom in' features all mean that much higher technical quality images are required.
 
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Garry Edwards
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What the OP writes is largely correct, but the good news is that I am seeing an upturn on this.

A few years back I was experiencing 'issues' with clients trying to do things in house and with cheap and or low skilled photographers. I kept hearing the from clinets that the images were only for web use and they didn't seem to care much about technical quality, composition or lighting. I kept hearing the same from low skilled photographers who thought they they could get away without pushing things.

But in the last year or two its totally chnaged and gone full circle. I have so many clients coming to me who are telling me that they are fed up of working with low skilled photographers, that they need quality above what their rivals are producing. I keep hearing some quite angry complaints about photographers who cannot deliever what they've promised. Someone recently told me they had to throw out a photographer who turned up to shoot her products without any lighting at all.

In the same manner I'm experiencing clients wanting a much higher level of styling, perfect consistency and so on.

On a technical basis, fast internet speeds, high resolution, retina displays and many product websites having 'zoom in' features all mean that much higher technical quality images are required.
That's good to hear, but isn't this upturn mainly at the higher end, with bigger business and mainly big ticket items?
In my experience, the higher end clients have always tended to recognise the importance of good marketing (which of course includes good photography) - that's how they got to be successful in the first place:) It's the low end businesses that have always tended to try to try to save money and who convince themselves that they're being clever, or who rationalise their poor decisions, lack of business sense and lack of real world business experience by thinking that every penny saved is a penny earned. The problem, as I see it, is that it's the massive growth in small e-commerce businesses (those with a turnover of say sub £2m) that has driven the standards down.

But, if this upturn is working for you then well done, and keep up the good work - the more high end photographers out there, pushing up the standards and leading from the front, the better.
 
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That's good to hear, but isn't this upturn mainly at the higher end, with bigger business and mainly big ticket items?
In my experience, the higher end clients have always tended to recognise the importance of good marketing (which of course includes good photography) - that's how they got to be successful in the first place:) It's the low end businesses that have always tended to try to try to save money and who convince themselves that they're being clever, or who rationalise their poor decisions, lack of business sense and lack of real world business experience by thinking that every penny saved is a penny earned. The problem, as I see it, is that it's the massive growth in small e-commerce businesses (those with a turnover of say sub £2m) that has driven the standards down.

But, if this upturn is working for you then well done, and keep up the good work - the more high end photographers out there, pushing up the standards and leading from the front, the better.
Yes. In other words, we're seeing a polarisation. The high end will always be there, albeit smaller, but the much bigger consumer market has grown and changed so much (as you've described) that nobody can afford to give the luxury treatment to thousands of low-ticket products that change with the weather.

I think it's wrong to suggest that managers of successful multi-mi££ion companies don't understand marketing and can't do a proper cost/benefit analysis. Riddell's post sounds plausible so maybe the tide is turning, a little, but the underlying fact is that the way we buy stuff has changed fundamentally (and permanently) and we get consumer buying information from all sorts of new places and sources, often in preference to the manufacturer's marketing material.
 
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Garry Edwards
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I’m not suggesting that all of the managers of e-commerce firms have got it wrong, but I do feel that many of them would do much better if they placed a higher value on photography, as a sales tool.

The simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the items on sale out there are impulse or luxury buys, we don’t need them. All that we actually need is shelter, food, water and some kind of clothing, everything else is a luxury that is competing with other luxury items for a share of our limited disposable income. So, the marketing needs to persuade us to part with our money in their direction, otherwise we either won’t spend it at all or we will spend it with someone else.

Marketing (and its parent subject, micro-economics) is a massive subject, but basically sellers are left with just a couple of main tools, copywriting and photography. Writing good copy has its own challenges, partly because important mass market selling platforms such as Amazon restrict the amount of copy, and the choices of layout, and partly because the customers use a host of different languages – many of them struggle in their own language, and when they’re faced with a poor computer translation from a different language, they struggle even more.

Niche marketing can be very different. For example, if you advertise in “Horse and Hound” then the customer demographic is simple, we know that most readers

1. Like horses

2. Have money

3. Speak Good English and are reasonably well educated

4. Think that they can ride well:)

And, therefore, good copywriting is very important to this demographic. But, coming back to mass e-commerce marketing, copywriting persuasion has its problems, so we’re left with the difference that good photography makes. For the reasons I’ve given, nearly everyone has now come to rely on photography, and has largely ditched copywriting as a sales medium. The name of the game now is to have multiple photos from multiple angles, complete with simple graphics that show measurements etc. and, done well, these photos can make the written word irrelevant. Now, these detail photos don’t need to be to a particularly high standard. They do need to have reasonable image quality and they do need to be sharp, and they need to be consistent, but I fully acccept that it isn’t commercially viable to change lighting and camera height for each one, and it isn’t needed either.

But was is important is the main shot. This serves two distinct purposes. Its first job is to tell the customer whether or not this is the item that s/he has searched for, and the second purpose, once they have clicked on it and can now see a large image, is that it needs to persuade them that they should buy it, and this does need a much higher standard of photography. There still needs to be consistency with the other illustrative shots, in terms of angle, colour and exposure, but this is where creative lighting and the right choices of angle, camera height etc become vitally important.

Now, experienced product photographers dream about photographing shiny subjects, because they know that they can make them jump off the page and make people want to touch them, but beginners don’t dream about them, they have nightmares about them instead, because the lighting is a real challenge to them. And the same goes for subjects such as black clothing, textured materials etc, all of them offer real opportunities provided that the photographer is competent.

All that I would like to do here is to turn nightmares into dreams, by helping to provide a useful educational resource.
 
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Garry Edwards
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Duplicated post
 
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Terry
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On of the first studio tasks set to us at college, was to photograph a poached egg on a plate of spinach on a white plate.... in Black and white.

The second set subject was a bar of white soap. also on a white china plate, also in black and white.

In both cases they had to look real and desirable.

And in those days we had none of the advantages of Digital manipulation or other PP. It had to be done by choice of emulsion and processing and printing, but mainly viewpoint, lighting and filtration.
 
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Irrespective of how commercial photography is going, I still think improved learning resources on here would be fantastic.
 
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On of the first studio tasks set to us at college, was to photograph a poached egg on a plate of spinach on a white plate.... in Black and white.

The second set subject was a bar of white soap. also on a white china plate, also in black and white.

In both cases they had to look real and desirable.
I am trying to imagine the levels of stress and frustration at the time.... :)
 
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To return to the original suggestion of a sub forum - I think it would be useful to separate lighting equipment chat from lighting technique discussion.

I'm really not all that interested in eking out the last 1/3 stop of HSS performance from this week's Chinese gadget.

Where to put my modifiers and why is much more relevant.
 
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To return to the original suggestion of a sub forum - I think it would be useful to separate lighting equipment chat from lighting technique discussion.

I'm really not all that interested in eking out the last 1/3 stop of HSS performance from this week's Chinese gadget.

Where to put my modifiers and why is much more relevant.
I would tend to agree in principle, except that there's no need. This particular forum is hardly overwhelmed with 100 new threads every day and a few more would be most welcome.
 
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I would tend to agree in principle, except that there's no need. This particular forum is hardly overwhelmed with 100 new threads every day and a few more would be most welcome.
I don't post technique stuff here because (a) IANAE, (b) this forum is so equipment heavy and (c) it's all about what you point it at (!)

I would if there was a special lighting technique sharing & critique forum.
 
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I would tend to agree in principle, except that there's no need. This particular forum is hardly overwhelmed with 100 new threads every day and a few more would be most welcome.
Fair point, but this is the Talk Lighting & Studio forum, it seems to many of us to have become the latest/cheapest/cleverest gadget forum, where the objective is to find out what to buy, where to buy it and for how little, and not about how to use light.
I feel that if there was separation between gear discussion and technique discussion, more people would read the technique discussions (simply because they would be much easier to find) and would then begin to realise that lighting is about much more than having enough of it.
Anyway, I've emailed the TP staff about this suggestion and no doubt they'll get back to me with their decision.
 
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I don't post technique stuff here because (a) IANAE, (b) this forum is so equipment heavy and (c) it's all about what you point it at (!)

I would if there was a special lighting technique sharing & critique forum.
Simple answer is post stuff here, that will start to redress the balance, as they say, don't be part of the issue, be part of the solution.

Mike
 

Canon Bob

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How about a couple of tags to head the thread title?......"Gear" and "Technique"
 
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