Digital Photography Takes Off
Digital photography is maturing into its own image capture specialty. but novice beware: to succeed, you need to do more than just point and shoot.
Photographs are the principal marketing tools of the retail catalog. The better the quality of the photograph—that is, its ability to express adequately the details and essence of the item—the higher the chance of customer satisfaction. Achieving enticing product shots traditionally requires a multi-step process, which includes: initial, instant film shots to test composition and lighting; the actual photo shoot; sending the film for development; waiting; checking the transparencies for accuracy; then re-shooting or digitally manipulating anything that comes out below standard. This time- and materials-consuming method is deemed appropriate by conventional photographers, because they understand the weight of the responsibility that rests on their product shots.
But another option does exist. A digital photographic process would eliminate at least five of the six steps mentioned above, as well as the cost of the Polaroid film, the lab processing fees and all costs incurred when shots need to be redone or fixed. Through the digital method, the composition and lighting are previewed on a color-calibrated monitor, the images are shot and downloaded directly as files, ready to be processed electronically. If a shot is substandard, the photographer knows within minutes, not days.
“Digital has definitely arrived,” states Richard Salas, owner of ASK Photography Studio in Santa Barbara, CA. But like any other high-tech solution, arrival does not equal perfection. The digital photography field is wide open, with many options for photographers and many opportunities for other service providers to get involved. With manufacturers making constant developments in performance and accessibility, catalogers should see more and more studios, as well as prepress vendors, offering digital capture alternatives to film. With the right equipment, training and workflow, digital image capture can revolutionize a catalog’s production.