As a small business owner, I get asked questions frequently about how I started this business and any advice I have for entrepreneurs who are starting out. So this week and next week, we are going to be sharing about the importance of product photography. My biggest piece of advice for anyone who is going into a product-based business is to spend the money on quality photography. When cash flow is tight, you have to be very wise about your spending. Start with a list of priorities so that you can work your way down the list as the money becomes available. But always always always, product photography should be at the top of your list. Excellent photographs are essential to selling a product online. If you compromise on photography, you will compromise on sales. You will also compromise on your branding, your image, your messaging and your reputation by putting less than quality images out there on the internet. This recommendation may sound dramatic, but if customers can’t see what a product truly looks like, they either won’t buy it or will be disappointed when they get it. Neither is good for business. You must make sure that the images not only are a true representation of what you are selling but also help tell your brand story.
You have only one chance to make a good impression on a customer. It’s essential to the longevity of your business that you make a good one. So, let’s chat about our process in regards to product photography. Keep in mind that this process did not evolve overnight. It has taken a lot of time, work, prayer and thought to get it right. But when all your dreams come to life, it is the most rewarding feeling. I am always on “cloud nine” on photoshoot days, and the days after the shoot are so depressing. The day is a total high as you watch everything you have worked on and poured into for months all come together.
Step 1: Select the right photographers. For our upcoming Fall Collection, we worked with Brandon & Kristin Kidd. They are based out of Orange County, California and are one of the most talented husband and wife photography teams out there. Budget wise, it was a stretch to be able to work with them, but let me tell you… It was worth every penny. Their expertise on photoshoot day, their hard work, their attention to detail and their commitment to capturing our products in a way that was “on brand” and consistent for us was unreal. I cannot recommend them enough. It is so important to select photographers that are both talented and on brand for you.
Step 2: Prepare, prepare, prepare. You cannot over-prepare for a big shoot day. Once our collection is complete and all of our physical samples are printed, we set a date on the calendar and work with our photographers to make sure they are available. At this point, the work really begins. Our Art Director, Koral Dean, begins sketching out the images we will need for our entire catalog. Knowing exactly what shots we need to capture takes a ton of stress off the day. Here are a few of the sketches from our Fall Collection shoot.
Step 3: Create a shot list. Once you have the vision for each shot, the next step is to build a shot list. Every single shot that we need for the catalog is on this list. So as we are shooting throughout the day, we are crossing off each shot from the list. This procedure ensures that we are getting everything that we need. The biggest disaster would be spending money on great photography and then realizing you didn’t get everything you needed on shoot day. Our shot list includes things like the following:
- Bullhead Tee – front, side and back view
- Goodness Gracious Tee – front and back view together in single shot
Step 4: Create a schedule for the day. We always work with a team of models, so we provide hair and makeup (by the talented Brittany Massey) for our catalog shoots. Juggling the schedule is always a challenge, and we are still working on getting it right. But it’s important to have a schedule and try to stick to it. We don’t like our models to get here earlier than they need to be here, but it does take a significant amount of time to work in hair and makeup for a large group of ladies. The keys to creating a successful schedule are over-calculating the time it takes for certain things to make sure you can fit everything in and to allow for the unexpected. If you’ve ever been a part of a shoot of any kind, you know that unanticipated things always come up and nothing ever happens as planned. It’s important to have time built into the schedule so that you can be flexible when unforeseen things happen. You can’t let a small mishap ruin the whole day.
Step 5: Assign shoot day responsibilities to your staff. I have learned from experience that it’s very important for all of your staff to know what their roles are on shoot day. This day looks so different from our normal workdays, and it creates too much additional stress if someone doesn’t know what she is supposed to be doing. We all have assigned shoot day duties and talk about those responsibilities before the day gets here so that there is no confusion. When the shoot begins, the expectation is that our staff is ready and willing to jump right in and start executing. Shoot day is not a time to be prideful or have an attitude that you are above your job. On this all-important day, you will find me serving food, getting water for the models, cleaning up the office, taking out the trash, and checking on our photographers. My job is to make sure that things are running smoothly and that everyone has what he or she needs. The attitude of servanthood starts from the top, so if the leaders are above getting on their hands and knees to get the work done, you can’t expect the staff to do so. On shoot days, my entire staff comes together and uses our gifts to accomplish something as a team that none of us could accomplish on our own. It truly is such a beautiful picture of the Kingdom of God.
Well, that's all folks. Stay tuned next week for an in depth interview with our crazy talented photographers, Brandon & Kristin. They will be dishing out lots of tips for brands that want to execute a catalog shoot. We will also be sharing our behind the scenes video from this day. But for now, here's a peek at how we all felt after the 12 hour day was over and we wrapped up a successful shoot.
Lots of love,