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Squaretalk: Product photography landscape with Keith Krick

Squaretalk: Product photography landscape with Keith Krick

On the second episode of Squaretalk, we sat down with Keith Krick to discuss the product photography landscape in the United States, the key difference between studios and freelancers, how to maintain consistency from shoot to shoot, and much more!

Pylyp Sukhenko

Oct 20, 2021

Keith Krick is a photographer of 20 years, specializing in still life and product imagery. Keith also has extensive experience working on projects as a producer and now leads the New York studio for Squareshot.


[2:57] How the content creation industry changed since Keith began, and what it has evolved into.

Photography became a resource to everyone, but at the dawn of this medium, thorough training and understanding of the technical aspects was required to even get started.

[5:38] The e-commerce boom and its impact on photography

E-commerce didn’t exist when Keith was starting out, and its advent was overwhelming. Online sales have changed the game, and photography is at its forefront.

[6:50] Does immediate accessibility devalue product/professional photography

In the eyes of most professional photographers, the answer is – absolutely. It devalued the craft of what they do. The market is now oversaturated with photographers, and the world saturated with content. To stand out, you have to be very good at your craft. Average people, for the most part, can tell what is a bad image and what is not, which is no small amount of pressure.

[9:13] How do you differentiate a good studio/photographer from a bad one?

Some technical things are absolute (true color, contrast, saturation, highlights, shadows etc.). Context of the image and where it’s posted matters.

[10:34] How do you notice a bad photo right away?

Comes naturally, market oversaturation makes it easy for experience to shine through.

[11:32] Breaking content production stereotypes

Product photography does not have to be cheap and dirty. You’re selling the product, why hinder yourself with sub-par imagery?

[12:48] Are catalogue photos and how they drive the success of products undervalued?

People are starting to understand because they need this resource to sell their product online. E-commerce does not exist without catalogue and product photos.

[14:40] The knitty gritty of launching a product and how that process collides with photography. The difficulty of working in the future. Cutting the time to market.

A lot of the photography work is done during the prototype stage of the product. Development goes together with shooting, which is essentially working in the future. That has some difficulty attached.

[16:42] Will product photography ever be automated?

The technology is there, but they lack flexibility and the human touch. It’s moving in that direction.

There is a future where a lot of product photography is automated and is queued in the production pipeline, so entrepreneurs and photographers alike, need to be ready for that reality.

[20:35] Are we moving into a studio-oriented landscape, or a freelancer landscape?

During certain busy times of the year, you’d hire more freelancers to take on that workload, and as things taper off – you’d go back to your normal staff, and the cycle tends to repeat. Both have their advantages.

But does that impact consistency?

If you have doubts about maintaining consistency, you hire professionals regardless of context. Professionals will be able to dive into their backlog of experience or reverse engineer particular things if necessary, to get the product to market.

The economy will play a huge role in the future of photography – studios and freelances alike. Cost of living, real estate and growing markets will always be changing. The values and mindsets of photographers, as well as their reach, will too.

[27:15] Case scenario – Say you’re a new brand: do you hire a freelancer, or build your own studio?

Depends on the budget.

If you have a high budget – of course spend more on imagery, marketing, and social media presence. If money’s tight, maybe working closely with a freelancer will yield surprising results.

[30:05] Hero shots – semi advertisement photos that are the absolute front page images of your brand. Why is it so hard to price/productize in comparison to catalogue photos?

Every one of them is custom. Custom vision and custom idea. Every one of them has to be handled in such a way that it suits the client’s needs for exactly what they want. There are too many variables to put into a cookie cutter format because it could involve too many fluctuations in ideas, intent and necessities.

[31:50] When should people consider them? When are they of utmost importance?

You have to stand out, it is categorically the first priority to establish your presence.The more streamlined, the less custom. Aim for personality, that’s unlikely to get productized. Ask for advice or pay for advice, especially in new areas. Studio growth – are they going to become more accessible due to location, or scale in size akin to Amazon warehouses?

As ecommerce and consumerism grow – there will be more production. You are going to have to scale somehow. You’re going to have to have more resources to produce content to be consumed on a daily basis.

To scale in volume or scale in points on the map, depends on the size and model. Build studios around supply chains if the demand asks for that kind of step. 

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