The secret of cost efficient, high-volume photography

No business can afford to be inefficient with any part of their operation, and high volume photography production is no exception, but it can be a tricky area to really get ticking over well, because it crosses over so many different departments and processes.

So, any business that has a regular need for photography should look very carefully at their production processes.

Often the cost of the photographer is the focus of the business when they are looking at high volume production efficiencies because that cost is very easy to see, but the real cost differences are actually made elsewhere.

The key metric to look out for is a daily shot rate. What this should be, of course, depends on the type of images that are being created, but there should be an optimum shot rate that you want to achieve with your photography shoots, which allows a long term benchmarking of production costs.

The single biggest impact on the rate of photography is the supply and availability of merchandise. The rate of flow of merchandise into the studio is the most fundamental part of the process to get right, and this is where many issues can be traced back to.

Merchandise supply is complex with many things affecting the rate that merchandise can be supplied to photographers or studios; genuine availability issues, differing supply lead-times, and the potential to have a number of different departments, teams and suppliers that can be responsible for their own particular category of merchandise. Indeed the cost of suppling the merchandise can be one of the biggest overheads for the business when calculating the cost of product photography, so if a business is serious about maximimising photographic production efficiency, then it can’t afford not to have a photographic production process which is designed to work with the merchandise supply framework.

So, the small detail of the planning and the timing of the actually photography shoot should be dependent on the known supply and availability of the merchandise.

In complex and high volume photography shoots, another area that can spiral out of control easily if it is not carefully managed and policed is the image approval process. The biggest impact of this is on time; set standing time, and reshooting. There are genuine reasons why a team of people across one organization need to be a part of the approval process, but the problems creep in when too many people get involved in giving subjective feedback, which creates many problems. For example, a merchandise manager may be involved in an image approval process because they need to check that a product is correct and shown in an appropriate context. But, when their feedback strays into to giving creative opinion that is not part of their remit, this can create an endless loop of amends and feedback, with costs increasing all the time, and risks the eventual compromising of the quality of the images.

Getting clear production process set up is only worth doing if it is also managed over the long-term, so setting up reporting processes to keep a handle on ongoing efficiencies is prudent. High volume image production is an intensive process, so the concentrated effort on the day to day needs to be balanced with an ongoing view of the bigger picture.

More about Tim

Tim has managed the production of high volume photography shoots for some of the UK’s biggest volume photography commissioners, including B&Q, Homebase, Tesco & Aldi.

If you would like more information about how you can improve high volume photography production, you can contact him directly at tim@eposure.com

Don’t forget, Eposure is now free to join so if you are a professional commercial photographer then why not sign up? For more information please visit the membership page on the site.

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