Maintaining Creativity in the Photo Studio Means Uninterrupted Flow Blog Feature
Tim Grey

By: Tim Grey on September 11th, 2020

Maintaining Creativity in the Photo Studio Means Uninterrupted Flow

Digital Asset Management (DAM) | best practices

When we think of photo studios, we think of bright lights, models wearing the latest fashions, and a photographer snapping photos as the models pose. The end results are fantastic product or editorial images that end up on websites, advertising, and magazine layouts. But beyond the glitz and glam, there is an entire logistical engine tracking every possible piece of data from managing talent contracts, keeping track of the whole product lifecycle in the studio, when it comes, when it’s scheduled to shoot and when and where to ship it back to. And that’s not even taking account of the actual shooting of photos, which has its own specialized process. An efficiency expert in a Washington Post article determined that work interruptions can cost up to 6 hours a day. And photo studio employees are no strangers to work interruptions.

The entire idea of a photo studio is making creative imagery. Still, in many cases, a significant portion of the work to be done involves managing the processes that enable creativity. With that in mind, investing in technology can take a massive burden off your staff and eliminate time-consuming, tedious manual processes.

Identifying areas for improved efficiency 
Since we are talking about photoshoots, the logical place to start is with managing the photos. Right now, you might enter your information for inventory and shots manually, say on a spreadsheet, or maybe you've graduated from excel to airtable or smart sheets. But the question now is, are they integrated with your photo software, your product software, and are you able to communicate with your entire team this way? Can you get the data out in an easy way to work with the photo, inventory, and retouching teams? 

The purpose of technology is to manage the data and the processes that allow your team to focus on what they do best; photograph, direct, retouch, and style- not be caught tracking things down. Instead of burdening the photo team with data retention and retrieval, use technology to enable creative serendipity. Trying to manually manage your data and information is essentially a slow death by a thousand papercuts. Is this you? 

The benefits of technology
By leveraging the right technology, all of the data and processes can be handled by software solutions. Imagine all of the inventory tracked, and photos were managed with related product information, so that product teams and the C-suite can make the right decisions around planning and marketing spend. A proper approach to technology can offer a better way to track information and provides a central database where information can be shared throughout an entire organization.

Where to start?
The best place to start is to do a thorough audit of how you are currently handling data. Some questions you should ask are: 

  • How do you keep track of product samples, and where they are at any given time? 
  • How do you keep track of what products are in what images? 
  • What about multiple products in images? 
  • Can you easily find all photos with a particular product?
  • How do you manage a high volume of raw and processed imagery?
  • How do you manage the process around retouching and rework?
  • How do you share this imagery with the rest of your organization?

I'm willing to bet you are using hot folders on a fileserver, or legacy software that wasn't meant to do this. The main thing to look for here is how you track information and how it is shared across systems and teams. Once you've mapped this out, you have a blueprint for selecting appropriate software to meet your unique needs, and this should be far superior to your spreadsheets and file shares. The goal here is to eliminate interruptions in your workflow that are not related to the creative task and remove human manual processes that are better handled by technology.

If all of this seems overwhelming, it is. But once you can think critically about your needs and document them, you then have a comprehensive list of requirements that can help determine the solutions that are best suited for your business.

What solutions to look for
The good news is there is an emerging new technology sector called Studio Production Management. We’ve found that these systems combined with a proper Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution will cover most basic needs in a Photo Studio production environment. Digital Asset Management is a very mature technology and there are many options. Choosing the right solution to fit your needs will be determined by the your specific way of working and business requirements. At IO Integration we recommend working with an industry experts/consultants who have a deep understanding of a variety of solutions and can align the best fit for your needs. For Studio Production Management (SPM) we recommend Shotflow, which offers the most comprehensive set of features to help manage all aspects of photo studio production. 

Studio Production Management software features should include: 

Handling of inventory
Use barcodes and check your inventory in and check it out to set. No more guessing or searching where a product is or needs to be.

Integrated with Product Information
Product Data is linked automatically to your samples and to the shots. Multiple products in a single image can be managed easier- no tedious copy and pasting data from spreadsheets.

Image enrichment
Enrich your images with data about product, model, and studio staff automatically, no data entry or human error.

Integrate with Digital Asset Management
Integrate your Studio Production Management and Digital Asset Management software to manage image assets for retouching, routing images, and managing rework to the right people. No more confusing and error-prone file shares.

Connect to your entire production ecosystem
Integrate data about imagery back to your PIM or marketing software to inform the team.

Managing all of the moving parts is the key to a streamlined, efficient studio. The entire purpose of technology is to save time and makes your staff's lives easier. When everyone is focused on doing the job they were actually hired for and not spending a significant amount of their time searching for something that technology can easily manage, you can create a much happier employee and a productive studio. Isn't that what we are all here for?

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About Tim Grey

Tim has over 10 years of experience working in creative production for large studios and brands in the fashion and beauty industries. His creative and technology experience in the fields of digital asset management, product information management, project management and creative production workflow bring a hands-on insight to the implementation process. At IO Integration, Tim facilitates discovery and implementation for Project Management, Digital Asset Management, and Creative Production systems.

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