Just realized that I’ve not finished what happens after I shoot. Sorry about stepping out for so long, but no one complained. Anyone really read these anyways?
After the shoot. Once home, I spend just as much time on the computer working with files as I do on the shoot. In fact, it’s nearly one to one as far as time goes. If I spend eight hours on site for a shoot, I pretty much spend the same amount taking care of files and preparing them for delivery. Nothing is sacred once the camera shutter is released. On the computer I color and density balance, clean up requested unnecessary elements, clean up any dust spots as well as dirt missed on floors and walls, then prep all files for delivery and archiving.
I like to email a contact sheet of the processed images to my client to see before I Fed Ex the DVD to them. This allows them to see the images in a more true form and to make requests if necessary before I send the images. The delivery would be a CD or DVD of 8 bit high res files in the Adobe 98 color space. I also include low res jpgs due to the fact that many people in marketing have computers which may not be able to read the hi res files. These people can use the lo res images immediately in presentations if need be. If prints are requested I would then print them and deliver with the final disk.
One thing I tell all my clients is that I appreciate the opportunity to work with them. I love what I do and am always happy to make their projects look the best I can. If there are ever any questions, please don’t be afraid to contact me at any time! And I mean that.
This image of M Passion was photographed for Amerlux, a lighting company that has created some wonderful new LED lights for the retail industry.
During this downturn one thing I’ve been focusing on is my health. I’ve managed to lose 38 lbs so far and I really feel better. One of the repercussions of it though that I never thought would happen is that I seem to be cold much more often than I used to be. I guess the body fat seems to make one a little warmer.
Now, I’m not telling this to receive pats on the back. I was thinking about it this morning and I really see an analogy to the times. As companies are trimming their fat, there seems to be a tendency to become cold. As a whole, people just don’t seem to want to reach out as much. I just find it much harder to communicate with many people during a downturn, when I feel it should be the opposite. This is when we should all stick together and let each other know how we’re doing. We need to build the foundations of our relationships.
As a photographer, I may not be able to do much for you. Lack of projects? Lack of money to document? That’s ok. Believe me, I’ve cut my spending back as well. The folks at the Apple Store don’t even know who I am anymore. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t stay in touch with each other and allow each other the opportunity to help where we can.
I guess this entry is not about retail photography. It’s about our relationships. They are so much more important. Take care of yourself, but let me know how you are doing. I do want to hear about it.
I’m off to Florida for a week long vacation. The sun will feel great. And when I get back-well, let’s chat.
Retail photography is more than retail architecture. It should be more about how the design intent of a space is handled. Working at Fitch for twelve years beside designers gave me an insight that I feel many photographers do not have.
I have learned what it is they see when planning spaces for consumers. Many times, due to things beyond their control, sites are not completed the way they intended when they were sitting at their desks drawing away problems and visualizing grandeur. I’ve walked through many sites with designers listening to the “designer bitch”. My job was to circumvent that and produce images that were representative of what it was they had in mind while they were sitting at the drawing board.
I plan on working with this a little harder than in the past. Please look here a little more frequently than every six months and I promise to do what I can for you. I’ve been working pretty hard on marketing and am planning a New York City trip on March 31-April 1st 2009.
If you work in a firm that designs retail interiors within the New York City greater, please call me, I would love to get together with you.
Upshot, a Chicago based marketing firm hired me mid summer to photograph their project for Proctor and Gamble Canada. The results have won numerous awards for Upshot and since resulted in a cover story in the Nov/Dec 08 issue of Contract Lighting Magazine. PDF here: http://www.contractlighting.net/mag.cfm
I do have many techniques that I use on the shoot as well as in post production. I pre-visualize each shot so if I happen to tell you that it will be okay when you get the final, please trust me. Things like shadow and highlight detail, contrast, color balance and the like are best left for my workstation at the office. I never trust a laptop screen, especially when I have no control over the lighting in which it is viewed. If you think it looks good on the laptop screen, trust me, it will look great on a calibrated monitor.
The best way to get great images is to make sure we have a good crew. An art director, stylist and a general crew work best with a larger shoot. Small shoots call for art direction only. The main thing with many shoots is having a crew that helps to move merchandise and product back to their original place once we finish with a shot. This allows us to move on and keep schedule. Many times it’s hard to keep track of where merchandise comes from as we are moving items around to fill out racks and shelves. While we do try hard to return everything properly, I can say that after working all night throughout the store, it can become difficult to find the proper place for everything. We try the best we can. Once finished at the site, we pack up, clean up, say our good-byes and head out of Dodge.
It becomes very hard to analyze what I do on a shoot. After so many years photography becomes so intuitive that I seem to just roll with it, and the next thing you know, the shoot is over. I won’t go into detail about techniques, lighting and the like-mainly sticking with procedure here.
First off, when working at night, once I start working I usually don’t stop. I would rather get the job done and try to get some sleep than to take a break sitting on a hard floor. Besides, I can’t rest knowing that there is more to do. The most important things as you might guess would be camera angle, merchandising and lighting. We work as a team with the art director, merchandising, and store crew (if there are any) to set each shot to its full potential within the given time parameters. I like to start at the front of the set and move back as foreground is most important. Many times, little things in the background can be taken care of with a little cloning in Photoshop later if it means we can maintain a schedule.
I like to get as close as I can to a final image on set as possible. As I do final work on each image back in the studio, I believe the place to correct each shot is while shooting it. If I know that I have to do any work in post later, I will shoot for the optimum files to make that as easy as possible.
While shooting, I bring up the image on my laptop to view for any possible problems. I check focus, lighting and merchandising and will discuss if there are any ways to make the image better. Once again, we have to be aware of time constraints and change plans accordingly. I have the ability to work fairly fast on a shoot. Much of what I do becomes intuitive so while a new client may think I’m just placing lights at random, there is a reason for my placing everything where it is. If there are any concerns about an angle, I might shoot the image two ways to speed things along, and allow for a later decision. Like I said, I like to keep it moving…
Everyone has their own style of working, subtleties in their style that influence the overall product. For retail photography I can give you the rundown of how I work so that there may be a much better understanding of the process.
Yes, we work at night after store closing. Makes it much easier for all involved save the poor store manager or employee who gets “stuck” with us. I hate being in the way of store employees and their customers as we have quite a bit of equipment and have the need to pretty much take over a space while shooting. Moving product, merchandisers and the like are pretty much norm and having lights with cords around makes for easy entanglement. Liability wise, it’s much better to leave anyone unnecessary to the shoot out of it.
I usually try to get on site before store closing. As my assistant and I try to fly into the city earlier in the day, we check into the hotel and get some food in our stomachs before the shoot. I like to have the client along for dinner to discuss the project and generally B.S. Usually, we’ll bring a stash of eats to keep us sustained throughout the night and as any of my art directors will attest, we bring it all to share.
Usually, it’s not the most healthiest of foods, so let me know ahead of time if you prefer anything special. After doing this for so long…we know what you like. Seems like it’s always the same stuff that is the first to go-it’s not usually the healthy stuff either…chocolate and Red Bull sound familiar?
After the meet and greet, we usually do a walk through to get the feel of the space. Sometimes, we have already received blueprints and “happy snaps” from the client so we have a feel, but nothing is better than being on site to get the feel for the space. My assistant calls this the “designer bitch” where we hear of all the issues that went with the design and installation of the space. I will sometime take a camera with me through the walk through and take a few handhelds to bring up the images on my computer to discuss angles. That helps us plan for the evening. And then we roll up the sleeves and have at it….
and Vacation… Arrived back from Global Shop a few weeks ago, then headed off to vacation. Such a break from the routine between a three day stint in Chicago followed up with a week in the sun. I came back from both feeling energetic and ready to get back to the swing of things.
Had quite a bit of fun meeting people at the Fitch party at BIN36 where I donated a days worth of services to the silent auction for the Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids/Chicago. Congrats to all involved for raising around $12K. I had noticed quite a few cutbacks within the booths and attendees as well. A sign of the times I believe as companies begin the belt tightening process.
I met so many people in the business and got to see many old friends that I haven’t seen in a while. Talked business with a few people I really respect in the industry and received great words of encouragement. Walked away with some great marketing ideas-including the idea for this blog. I’ll leave you with this beach scene from Gasparilla Island Florida.
Welcome. In this blog I would like to discuss retail photography stories as well as conversational items, and issues that I see clients, colleagues, and even perhaps retailers facing. As a frequent traveller to many of the new and hot retail sites I look upon with interest the new trends. But first, an introduction….
I consider myself a retail photographer in the sense that I almost entirely photograph retail spaces-much more so than architecture and the like. Difference between retail and architectural photography? Well, that will be a later entry as I get into this a little more. But for now, please be aware that I have photographed more than ninety award winners within the three main retail competitions over the past eight years including Retail Store of the Year with M&M’S Orlando for Chute Gerdeman. I work with top retail design firms as well as many direct retailers and each brings a unique perspective to the design and photography process. I enjoy the friendships I have developed within the industry and look forward to many more!
Mark A Steele Photography Inc
Columbus OH 43212