Reduce Your Photography Costs
Roughly speaking, all catalogs are styled in the tradition of either Louis Vuitton or Wal-Mart.
The former are created using a traditional catalog workflow: merchandiser, designer, photographer, stylist, color house and web printer. The result often is a high-end look that’s inspirational enough to coax customers into paying the substantial product costs.
Cocktail-party stories about these catalogs feature the photographer too heavy to fit into a helicopter and an art director arguing with modeling agencies by cell phone while standing on an island in a remote Alaskan lake shooing deer away from a fully styled bedroom set at midnight (true, by the way).
Stories about Wal-Mart-style catalogs, on the other hand, involve panicked people reacting ridiculously when they’re pushed to save money beyond all reasonable limits. Let’s talk about these folks.
Presto, You’re a Shirt
”We have five new shirts for the next catalog,” said the manager of a mid-sized outdoor apparel catalog.
“I’ll schedule a photo shoot,” replied the art director.
“Sorry, there’s no money for a photo shoot.”
“So how do you plan to get these new shirts into the catalog?” asked the art director.
“We’ll PhotoShop some products we already have.”
“We have coats! These are shirts!” said the art director. “We can’t PhotoShop coats into shirts!”
“Have you really tried?” asked the manager.
As computers get cheaper and faster, catalogers are increasingly finding themselves in gray areas concerning computer manipulation of images. You want your images to fairly represent the products, otherwise you get crushing returns and angry customers. But nothing in law or marketing requires you to fund a new photo shoot each time you need new images.
Following is a snapshot of how some catalogers used aggressive image manipulation this year to cut imaging costs to zero or nearly zero: