As the current transition toward eCommerce is picking up speed by the minute, there is an important shift taking place in inhouse studios all over the globe. The consumer is constantly only a hunch away from clicking those shoes instead of these, and getting that sale is truly becoming a game of looks. Do your online product shots portray the brand perfectly? And if there’s room to up your inhouse photography, are you sitting on the gear that will make it happen?
All day – every day
Profoto identified the urgent need of many online retail brands to be able to create over a thousand images per day, and rely on images that are made in-camera - not in post. This sought-after ability lets a brand take control over their online look and keep the speed required in their industry.
You could go with LED, but most don’t. Simply because flash tubes create sharper images and give more light. Quality flashes open up for more creativity, they freeze motion and you’re not stuck to a tripod. Having the option of hand-held can also make the end result more dynamic. Interesting. Inspiring. Sellable.
Usability multiplied overnight
Another significant advantage of a user friendly system that gets it right in-camera, is that you don’t have to rely on one person’s individual skills. When more people around the studio are able to shoot with it, and nail the look – the usability of the D2 Industrial suddenly magnifies. With a carefully organized set, a product shoot will generate the correct result in-camera day after day, also eliminating time consuming (and costly) retouch and post production. It can all go live immediately, a speed which is a great asset as new images just have to get published with new drops, and new campaigns. Now.
We exchanged a few thoughts on studio photography, flashes and eCommerce with Mathias Nilsson, Photo Manager at the rapidly growing online fashion brand Nelly.com – currently the trendiest eCommerce among young women in Scandinavia.
Tell us, what does a day at Nelly.com look like?
Today’s eCommerce is all about seeing the product on a model that inspires. So we’ve chosen to only shoot on real models. They fly in from all over the world, and we work fast - shooting tons of images. Even though we only select approximately four images per style, we shoot up to 70 in a rapid pace. Any professional model do their own posing, so we don’t have to waste time on direction. This operation demands fast flashes – and each day we shoot up to 2000 images in each of our four studios.
So, what about using continuous light?
Sure, we thought about it - since we also shoot video in the same studios. But for stills, we simply need the sharpness that fast burn time gives. With our frantic pace, the flashes must keep up with minimal downtime. The tempo of shooting is also in sync with the vibe of the brand, and we could never get this with LED.
What’s most important to Nelly, in terms of light?
Color stability, for a uniform look with the same background and skin tones. We trust the graycard in combination with our flashes. This minimizes post production. Then, build quality and accessories. Profoto has tons of modifiers that are simple and interchangable. Before we needed to invent stuff inhouse, but with Profoto - everything exists.
Why choose the D2 Industrial?
Before, we had an outrageous array of different flashes, brands and modifiers. Nothing looked the same, and we simply couldn’t trust our lights, or that the results would be consistent. With the transition to Profoto a year ago, we know that it will produce color stability, thus minimizing post. So it’s both a creative and financial decision. We’re faster, with less downtime, less hours. Then, the D2 Industrials are cheaper than a system of Pro-10 and heads. We opted for the D2 Industrial for this reason - but also for it’s flexibility, and ease of moving around when needed.
Why are great images critical for eCommerce?
We sell to a generation that sees the online store as a digital dressing room. They shop, return, try again. And they rely on the feeling that the online images give. We could have used mannequins, but then also lost a lot of business. Today’s consumer will always be faster at changing ways of looking at pictures, than we are of adapting to those changes. So we must make sure that the combination of product presentation and shopping experience is as good as it possibly can.
Today, Nelly has 20 units of D2 Industrial at work full days in four studios. So each flash sees 8 hours of shooting per day, with no hick-ups. Initially, the built-in software gave Mathias and his team a heads-up every 3 months that it was time to change the bulbs – but Nelly has decided to set this interval for a year. The biggest improvment since switching to the D2 Industrials is definitely speed and reliability - which goes hand in hand. The low downtime is what makes these monolights keep up with the pace needed in this streamlined fashion eCommerce, and since they can rely on the color stability to get each exposure right in-camera, tons of retouch hours are avoided.
”Speed is the nature of the game, and the low downtime of these lights fits our pace – we can just keep firing as the model throws new poses at the camera”, Mathias concludes.
At the end of the day, it comes down to good business. Nelly stays competitive by controlling the looks that sells,more people can use the same flashes, retouchers are obsolete and the system won’t brake the budget on purchase.