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Pro Product Photogs - Please offer your analysis

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Peej Davidian
Pro Product Photogs - Please offer your analysis
on Feb 28, 2009 at 9:18:20 pm

I've been working for 3 years as a full-time product photog for a retail website which has around 10,000 products with a high item turnover, which means we usually have a raging river of new additions to our inventory, most of which are transit-crumpled clothing and accessories.

I am solely responsible for unpackaging, detagging, hanging and steaming each item, after which I dress a mannequin with the garment, adjusting and primping the fabric until it sits attractively on the form, then staging and lighting the shot for optimal merchandising and clarity. After shooting the item at a few exposures and apertures, I then undress the mannequin, retag the item, repackage as necessary, and return to my office , where i upload the images to my computer, select the best capture, and begin centering/leveling, extracting, retouching, color correcting, applying gradients & filters, etc (hopefully you know the process if you're registering your take on this). After i'm done with both the routine and the nitpicky, I take the finished, full-res (1200x1200) images and run batch conversions to duplicate, rename and resize the images as necessary before uploading them to our server via FTP.

On average, this entire process takes me about 20-25 minutes per image.

The owner (advised by a couple photog friends of his, neither of whom produce much/any product imagery) suddenly decided he was going to require me to produce images almost twice as fast (he proposes it should take me 14 minutes per image start to finish).

I have linked a few examples of my work that represent my usual standard of quality, which the owner emphasizes should not diminish an iota regardless of the new quantity demands. My images are nothing state-of-the-art, but I hope most would agree that they exhibit the products accurately and vibrantly even at full resolution.

http://img530.imageshack.us/img530/3518/zmfy38cnsp7301.jpg
http://img530.imageshack.us/img530/7699/zmfy37cnsmknbb.jpg
http://img530.imageshack.us/img530/9245/zmfy37cnsmknbf.jpg

My question to you esteemed colleagues is:

Relative to other gigs across the industry, and considering the quality of my work and my $14/hour pay grade, wasn't my boss already getting his $'s worth at a pace of 20 images staged, shot, edited and uploaded per 8-hour day? In other words, he's been paying me about $5.60 per image for the whole shebang. Wasn't he already getting a bargain, or am I just really slow?

Thanks for taking the time to read this and offer your insight on where I stand compared with industry standards.


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Richard Harrington
Re: Pro Product Photogs - Please offer your analysis
on Mar 1, 2009 at 6:04:03 am

Not digging on you... jut going to offer a few workflow suggestions.

1. Don't keep going back and forth... Learn to shoot tethered so images download automatically from your camera to computer whilel you shoot. If your camera can't shoot tethered, look at Eye-Fi cards (but much slower). This way you can shoot for 5 hours and process for 3... moving back and forth is killing you.

2. Learn to batch process and or use Camera Raw settings to automate. For that matter... use Apeture or Lightroon which are much faster for this style of workflow where you don't need layers.

Richard M. Harrington, PMP

Author: Photoshop for Video, Understanding Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Studio On the Spot and ATS:iWork


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