Founded in 1977, Baycrew’s is a Japanese “select-shop” business, providing both domestic and international items, as well as its own products. Starting from a base of over 40 fashion brands, Baycrew’s has greatly expanded its endeavors into a variety of industries such as fitness, lifestyle, furniture, and restaurants. In August 2020, Baycrew’s online store sales topped 50 billion yen, making it one of the most successful shops in Japan.
The flash of choice used for shooting Baycrew’s products is our Profoto D2. As a marketing planner, photographer, and videographer Keisuke Miyamoto oversees the online store. He also supports social media operations, sales, and the creative production for the webshop. We asked Keisuke about his experience with Profoto D2 and how it helps the team achieve operational excellence.
Baycrew’s handles many brands and attractive products ranging from clothing to furniture. How do you shoot the products for the online store?
There’s a 4-booth studio at our headquarters and a 10-booth studio at the warehouse in Kashiwa, Chiba. Shoots happen every day. We shoot somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 products a month. Basically, I shoot everything that appears in the online store, from original Baycrew’s products to imported brands. In 2020, we shot 47,000 products with Profoto D2. We take about 10 shots of each product, so that comes out to a total of about 500,000 shots.
Tell us why you chose to work with Profoto D2.
Shoots are done not only by professional photographers but also by in-house staff, so I figured we should shoot with a product that can easily be used by those who don’t have any experience with the equipment. What I like about Profoto D2 is the great design but also the fact that it’s very easy to operate. Easy-to-understand design is crucial for learning how to use equipment quickly. I chose Profoto D2 after hearing how much other professionals like it.
What do you like about using Profoto D2 for your shoots?
When shooting a model, we shoot in bursts so as not to miss a single moment of movement. Profoto D2 charges quickly, and its shutter can snap in an instant. Also, two important aspects are color accuracy between the product and photo as well as capturing the beauty of different skin tones. At Baycrew’s, Profoto D2 is held in high regard for providing a stable color temperature with almost no color cast. We can use the photos for our online shop without editing much in post. The stable flash power means there is no variation from shot to shot, so editing isn’t that troublesome, and highlights come out looking nice without overexposure. It’s also sturdy, and I don’t have to get it repaired as much as the equipment I used to use.
What do you focus on in your shoots?
With clothes, it’s important to convey a sense of size and silhouette. Our customers have expressed that they want to know how the clothes would feel on their skin, so I make sure to convey the texture and feel of a garment. I do so by using close-ups to capture details. Profoto D2 is perfect for that.
Profoto D2 casts the light evenly, so I first shoot the entire garment, and then take shots while gradually getting closer. By doing so, I can get consistent images just the way I want them without having to change the angle or the light every time. Even our staff with no knowledge of lighting can take great shots in a limited amount of time, which helps wrap up our shoots quicker.
How do you add variety to your shots?
First, to show the details of a product, we take simple shots against a white background. Then, we take shots of someone wearing the product outside. We either do so with a professional photographer and model or with some of our in-house staff wearing and shooting the items.
The professionally shot images are more attractive. But when our colleagues, who know all about the products, model the garments, the photos give the customer a better understanding of the product, even if they aren’t as technically advanced. We try to appeal to all our customers’ needs, so we upload lots of different images and videos.
When a pro photographer does a shoot, store staff is also there to communicate key points regarding the products and brands being shot. We have a team that analyzes past data to determine which types of photos work well depending on the brand, target group, media outlet, and type of social media. We realize that the creativity with which our content is shot is directly tied to sales. If a product doesn’t perform, we sometimes do a quick swap-out of the photos. It’s difficult, but it’s worthwhile.
So you approach your shoots from the eyes of your users?
Yes. I think that the company culture, which generates creativity in-house, is the biggest reason why Baycrew’s has some of the highest sales of any online clothing store.
Are there any other creative endeavors you’d like to tackle?
The Baycrew’s staff has become proficient in shooting product photos, but we still need to improve our skills regarding fashion shoots and visuals for brand advertisement.
Nowadays, the dominant arena for spreading information is social media. This, combined with constantly improving equipment, means that we live in a time where everyone can be creative. I would like to focus on communicating knowledge and technique widely throughout the company. Therefore, I do everything in my power to help our employees, who are experts in their brands and customers, to take on a wider range of creative endeavors.
Interview cooperation: Baycrew’s Co., Ltd.