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Photography Tips with Jeff Delacruz President of POW Photography #25

Unedited Transcript

today we’ll be talking about photography and what it takes to have good photos. My name is Stephen Pope, and I’m the founder of my Amazon guy. This is theme I Amazon Guy podcast. All right, so now I’m joined by Jeff Dela Cruz, who’s the president of power photography or products on white photography. I’ve thanks for Thanks for joining me, Jeff. I appreciate it
spk_0:
00:26
happy to be here,
spk_1:
00:27
so I’ve personally used their service and absolutely recommend them to my clients. And some of my clients have also used their service, and I think there are go to place of professional photography. But just to start us off on our podcast today to qualify you as an expert in the space, can you walk us through why you guys are the go to place? Why do you think you guys are doing it right, so to speak?
spk_0:
00:50
Sure. So products on life photography we specialize in just white background product photos for e commerce. Amazon Sellers. That’s our specialty. That’s what we do. 9 to 5. Monday through Friday, seven days a week. Um, right now we got seven full time photographers shooting this stuff every day. Um, and one of the things that really makes a special. Besides, the fact that we’ve photographed hundreds of products for thousands of sellers, um is that we really focus on quality. So I think a lot of sellers out there I’m sorry. A lot of photographers out there we’ll just stick it in a light tent or just use cookie cutter lighting. We’re not doing that. One thing that we’re doing that’s really special is actually lighting these products in a very special way. So if you imagine we have these big sets such a product on their we look atyour match directions and we can copy it exactly. We can say all we want to highlight here, or we want toe, uh, at a little bit of fill in the cider at a hard shadow. Um, each product is being lists, especially and then retouched. We do a lot of compositing to really make it look beautiful and just putting this. You’re putting your product in a light tan and taking a shot. There’s no way you could make it look this good. So that’s really what we do best.
spk_1:
02:06
I I completely agree with you and the reason I know this is because I tried to shoot some photos of my wine glasses and they looked like trash. And so then I sent one to you guys, and it looked way better. I also sent one of my glasses into Amazon’s photo service and yours be theirs as well. So, um, so yeah, definitely would prop you up. Is an expert in this space here. Um, how did you come up with the name of your company?
spk_0:
02:34
Well, you know, it’s products on my backgrounds. We wanted to keep it pretty. Uh, pretty simple. So products on Wait. Um, and then we were like, Wow, this is kind of cool. We could call it Powell. So we call power for short when we’re talking to people. You know, the answer. The phone. How How can I help you? You know, it’s,
spk_1:
02:50
uh how can I help you there, Ugo? That’s great.
spk_0:
02:54
So, uh so, yeah, so I don’t know. It’s ah, just want to make a simple
spk_1:
02:59
and so right now is you know, the economy is going through this crazy revolution on, and as I understand it, you started your company in the middle of the last economic fallout back in 2000 and walk me through that.
spk_0:
03:16
Yeah. So, um, first of all, I’ve been a photographer for a really long time at this point, Um, you know, So I remember what it was like to be a photographer before, before the 2008 meltdown. And, um so it was me and my business partner in 2008. Um, is we just lost all our business as freelancers? June custom stuff, lifestyle stuff. Um, and but one thing that kept coming in was the’s just white background photos and people just wanted, like, one or two shots of their product. But as a professional, we would build it as a day rate. We would say, Oh, you want a full day of shooting? That would be, you know, 5 500 to $1000 a day or something like that. And that was just ridiculous. If you just wanted one product photo on a white background. So we’re like, there’s gotta be a way we can help all these sellers, right? And so that’s how we created our system, where we flat rated per photo where you can send send it in order online, sinister products but what it was. But the genesis of that when we came to realize is that, um is that this was the kind of the beginning of the Amazon gold rush. And this was these were sellers that had been laid off of their job. They had kind of maybe lost faith in having job security. And they were like they wanted to take their, um they’re, ah, life into their own hands, right? And this was a way that they could do it. They could say I could I could get my own products from China and resell them on Amazon. Or I could create a brand and sell it on Amazon and was super easy back then. It’s a little bit harder now. I think that’s
spk_1:
04:56
why we’re in business.
spk_0:
04:57
That’s right. That’s why you’re around here. Uh, but back then it was so much easier. And I think it was a real opportunity for people to kind of take control of their lives. And I think we’re probably going to see that again. Maybe differently. Now. I think it’s gonna be more established. Businesses that have kind of resisted the e commerce push that are saying
spk_1:
05:16
I’ll have no choice.
spk_0:
05:18
Now, I have no choice. Yeah, we have a couple of clients like that right now. You are
spk_1:
05:21
mad, Dash. Okay, we’re gonna shoot 1000 photos. We need We need this by Friday. Come on, Jeff.
spk_0:
05:27
Get exactly exactly
spk_1:
05:28
sure that’s coming in. Uh, it’s definitely definitely chaotic right now. So, um, so let’s get into the heart of our conversation today. Photography is an art that is hard to get, right. And you’re an expert. You can speak to both the art and the science behind photography. So? So this question would not surprise me if it took us the majority of our podcast to get through. But what makes a good photo?
spk_0:
05:56
Oh, man, that’s such a ah e. It’s a cultural Ah, kind of, like, you know, aa dark hole there because you could really go into, Like, what? What do we like? You know what? What is pleasing to us? What do we need? You know, maybe we could just kind of compartmentalize this to just, um, Like what? What is going to encourage people on Amazon to click my listing photo? Right? Because when I think about it, when I think about Amazon, that may listen. Image is the most important image into getting somebody to click. And, um, and if somebody doesn’t search for like like, um, like, lip balm, bunch of it lip balms are gonna show up. One of them is gonna be your image. And the rest of you were going to be your hundreds of other competitors, right? And making optimizing that image. Making that image look good is the real question I think that we need to focus on, I think.
spk_1:
06:54
Yeah, yes. Oh, so I agree with you, and I teed that question of knowing it was impossible to answer. Right. But, like so we’re gonna try, and we’re gonna try and tackle that question and compartmentalize it a little bit. So, uh, clearly, a lot of people know at this stage that they need their main photo on white all ah, power photography pictures on white photography. And and so but there’s a lot of elements that go into it. So, like, walk me through why your studio shot is superior to that light kit tent, if you will.
spk_0:
07:25
Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, I think first of all, you know you. You got to get beyond the idea that you just got to meet the requirements. The Amazon image requirements for that main list image is just, ah, product on a white background. That’s like the bare minimum. Right? And anybody can really do that. Um, you know, you could just put up a piece of white paper and take a photo of your product, and you’ve done it right? But that’s not what we’re talking about here we’re talking about How do I win that click? How doe. I have my photo stand out. And really, it’s all about how you light the product. How do you make it different? How do you make it look better? Um, you know. Ah. And I think that’s that’s what that means is different to every product. So, for example, like we could shoot a bottle you’re talking about like a white wine bottle before.
spk_1:
08:14
Yeah, So wine glass I’ve got No, I don’t have
spk_0:
08:16
a glass.
spk_1:
08:18
Well, maybe I d’oh. So a wine glass is very difficult to shoot photography wise. Cause of the lighting because of the refraction of the glass makes it really, really difficult. So we packed these really well, that’s why it took me so long and hear that crackling in the background, if you just listening in. So
spk_0:
08:35
like a transparent glass with some type on the front, very difficult product and to photograph.
spk_1:
08:42
And as I put this on the Webcam for those that are watching the video, you can see the refraction of the wine glasses. I rotated around very difficult to actually read what’s on the Glass. And so when I was trying to get this wine glass shot, we would throw liquids into it. We would try and take without a liquid shot and play around with it. And it’s not easy, not easy at all.
spk_0:
09:05
Yeah, and I think like a lot of people find us when they’re struggling to kind of take these type of product photos because you’re just you’re just not gonna be able to make that look good on your own. Not unless you have all the right gear and know how to use it.
spk_1:
09:19
And that’s probably the probably the biggest piece of advice I give my listeners is. Don’t even try to take the photos yourself. I would just hire the professional from the start the costs and the time investment I made personally when I was trying to figure this stuff out is well dwarfed by the the ease and use of your product service. And and so you cannot just hire a photographer off the street or a freelancer local to you. Shooting for e commerce is a completely different game. So So walk me through some of the things that you’ve learned over the years that you know can when you take a photo like mistakes that are commonly made maybe.
spk_0:
09:58
Sure. So, um, you know, I’m gonna focus on that wine glass and tell you how I would photograph it. So And I guess I guess this is just indicative of me being, ah, product photographer whose shot hundreds of products on my backgrounds. You know, Um and just like the rest of our staff, we can just look at a product and know exactly how to photograph it before we even put it on set. So how I would photograph that wine glass is I would bring it on set. I would set the background and light the background separately. Um, I know a specific color number that I wanted to be, which is around 250 which is which is like a white but not 100% white. So there’s a little bit of density behind it, and that density is gonna go into the glass itself. Now the problem is, is if you just put it in there and light it evenly, then everything’s gonna disappear. So we’re gonna need to use some placards on the sides to kind of create some shape. If you go black, it’ll go completely black on the sides, and that glass is gonna actually reflect it. So you’re actually doing with the reflection off of the black cards as opposed to the actual lighting of it? I don’t know. That makes sense.
spk_1:
11:06
It makes every sense to me because I’ve been through this motion before, but I know it’s pretty nervy for those that are. Listen, you have never picked up a camera before. It’s it’s that, like, you know, some of the cured you mentioned, like density, refraction or reflection of the black cars and stuff. I mean, it’s complex to get right, like I totally get it. Um, so when you so what do you think is some of those mistakes that could be made, like not putting black cards, choosing the wrong light density number? Like what? What?
spk_0:
11:37
Well, that’s the thing is like, if you’re trying to do this yourself, you wouldn’t even get to this point of your questioning. You know, like, you know, like like you’re you’re if you’re doing it yourself. Your basic problems are How do I get a white sweep and how do I get light coming in? So, like, um, I’ve taught classes on D i Y product photography. And, um, you know, the biggest mistake is first of all, trying to do it like a professional, like you’re just not gonna be able to do it, because in a multi lights set up, you need to have an understanding of what I like to call photography math. I was a professor for a while. I talk some photography, and, um, and one of the things we could teach is how to balance lights. Right. So if we have a key light overhead just lighting the entire glass, which is providing the even light, we want to set that at Let’s just say we want to set about it. 1 1/100 of a second F 16 and I s o of 100. Right then we want to add the the ah, some highlights down the side, which we want to do it like minus one. And we could do that with soft boxes or some sort of reflective panel. Right? And we would like that separately. Um, I can keep going, but I think you kind of get the understood. The point is that if you want to get to this professional level, you need to first understand the photography math and then understand how to set up the basic tools. Um, so I think he kind of get where I’m going here.
spk_1:
13:01
I like that. So So we way said. We mentioned earlier on that there is both an art and a science to photography. The last bit was very focused on that science and even fashion photo math. I don’t think most people would have thought about that when they’re thinking of photography. And that’s really interesting to kind of, uh, say out loud. You know, if I’m a customer shopping on Amazon, I personally would not know how complicated it is to sell on Amazon, and it’s a super complicated process, right? So
spk_0:
13:33
it right,
spk_1:
13:33
I’ll bring a college kid. You just graduated out of college and training mint and bring him a member of the Miami Zahn Guy team. And usually there’s two re occurring comments I’ll get. The first is they’re They’re surprised at the amount of navigation that they have to do to get a product to sell on Amazon. I would second that that’s probably applicable to photography. And the second point that they, um, usually make is man. I had no idea how much stuff goes into this or how complicated it is. So photography very much could be the same boat as well. Um, so as a buyer, when I’m looking at the product listing search page on Amazon and I and I see these hundreds of commoditized products out there, you know why? Why would why would the customer click on this photo versus another’s is a debatable conversation. So So let’s let’s So we talked about basic starting point. We talked a little bit about a couple of common photo mistakes and how amateurs can’t be professionals, and we get that What Is there any tips that you would suggest that let’s say someone who was gonna higher power photography. What? What kind of shots do you think they need to obtain from you to be successful on Amazon?
spk_0:
14:51
Yeah, When working with us. You know, really, the best thing to do is just first survey. They’re the competition. Just see what everybody else is doing with their photos, right? There’s gonna be one or two. They’re just knocking it out of the park. And if you can’t find any, you can search other product categories with similar similar shaped products. What? You were looking for our photos that just, like, really stand out to you. And then if you’re working with us, all you gotta do is just take a screenshot and say, Make it look like this. That’s literally all you gotta do, right? Point. I want this and then send us that image in the shot list. And then you can also say, Oh, I want to look like this, but I want the angle. I want the I want the box next to the product instead. You know of this of this arrangement. So we have arrangements and we have, ah, lighting match images that you can you can provide for us.
spk_1:
15:42
One of the things I really like about your website is it has a bunch of tutorials on how to go about the ordering process, because it is hard to connect. Um, the purchaser of said photos I’II an Amazon cellar to the photographer and outlining the desired outcome. Right. And so you have tutorials on, like, how to, um, show you. Those look like photos like you mentioned. Show the competition you also have. Ah, you know, if if you want shots taken, shoot him with your cell phone and give us those examples and will replicate him. I thought that’s a very visual, easy way to transfer the requests on. And I gotta say, I give you props for how your websites built to handle those orders.
spk_0:
16:24
Thanks. Yeah, you know, and the whole thing is like, we know that that our buyers air, not our customers are not photographers, you know, And very rarely do we work with somebody who’s able to art direct us at ah, at like a really complex level. You know, it’s it’s very uncommon. So we have to we have to be ableto have a ah way of communication between a non photographer and a photographer, and that way is visual, right? Just writing it out. But that’s gonna help us, you know, but taking cell phone shots of something everybody can d’oh!
spk_1:
16:59
And I think that’s a great way to do it. So props to you on in boarding that’s into your website ordering system. Um, okay, so So if you had, um, had the floor right now and you just wanted to tell Amazon sellers out there a piece of advice. What would you tell them?
spk_0:
17:17
You know, there’s there’s really a kind of a progression. I think that every cellar needs to go through. Um, I believe that every cellar just needs to get to market as fast as possible. Just get your listing up there, get your stuff out there. And I realized that, um, you know, that might mean just taking your own cell phone photos. And if you’re going to do that like there’s lots of tutorials out there, we have one with Shopify on how to use window light to shoot yourself, and it’s just a great way to just kind of get up there. But once you’re up there, it’s time to start optimizing just like you’re gonna optimize your ads just like you’re gonna optimize your copy. Um, you know, optimize your photos because that’s the kind of the next stage to kind of level up, and you’re never gonna level up with just these d i Y photos. But I do think you should get the market.
spk_1:
18:05
So I I really like that comment, because, um, we’re very action oriented as an agency. Um, there’s a lot of agencies that our perception based and we’re like the opposite of that. Like, we don’t have a photo of me shaking hands with Jeff Basil on my website. You can find that we’re not networking. We barely leave the house because we’re so busy. Kind of like what you mentioned You guys were shooting photos all the time. Yeah, but ah, getting to market and doing whatever you can to growth hack to get up and running It couldn’t couldn’t agree more with you on that. Um, Okay, so So here’s some random questions. What’s the hardest product you ever shot and why?
spk_0:
18:43
Oh, yeah. We had the set of uh, of whiskey, um, glasses and had a cantor in it. And just like the glass was telling me it had this white text on it. And you know that first we had to get the glass, and then we had to go in there and extract all the text. Incident meant selecting it all and, uh, just doing in post. It was a lot of work, you know, So stuff like that is extremely difficult, but I mean, I mean, we probably sh shot over 200,000 different product photos over the last 10 years. And that’s only the one of them, you know. So I
spk_1:
19:24
totally get it. All right, on the other side of the spectrum, what’s what’s an easy product? You can shoot all day long.
spk_0:
19:30
We love shooting bottles, you know, Senator Bottles. But I would say, like one of the things that we do really, really good is beauty products. Um, because we’re able to get really custom with lighting. And our our photographers love it because beauty sellers tend to be focused on, you know, beauty imagery. There’s a lot of really great brands out there that really set the bar. Really high with their photography. And so, um, people that are new to the beauty category often reference, um, some of these high end brands and have us match that we just we just love doing that kind of stuff. So
spk_1:
20:06
we have a lot of beauty clients, very high demand on Amazon. I had one referral tree were my first beauty client, recommended, like three others. And then those three recommended three other suits, so I think we have a lot of beauty clients. Yeah, so off to keep that in mind. Okay. So ah, you probably have an opinion on, like, there’s probably a service that you are you offer. You think people should take more advantage of, Or maybe like, a photo that customers aren’t asking for. That you think would just be awesome and make their sales go through there? What do you think people are missing right now?
spk_0:
20:41
So, um, the biggest question that we get is do you guys shoot lifestyle photos? And you know, I think the anatomy of a kn Amazon listing is really your main listing image. Your secondary images that are kind of benefit focused. Oh, our feature focus. And then these these lifestyle images, and for a long time we weren’t able to offer that, because shooting lifestyle stuff is really challenging right to do a lifestyle shoot for real. Kind of like what I was doing is a freelancer before I started. How is a huge production? It costs thousands of dollars like we’re talking like $2000 just to get into it. And the reason why is because, first of all, you have to have a model that model needs to wear clothes and have their makeup all all done. Then you need an environment to shoot it in, and then you gotta You gotta feed all the people that are there and you got to do the shoot. And then you got to do all the post processing, and you can really only get like 10 looks done a day if you’re really working hard and it’s just really expensive. And if you’re an Amazon cellar, that’s just an absurd amount of money to spend for a secondary list. So based on that, we started a service pretty recently, maybe about six months ago, that we’re just really going to market with right now, called Amazon uh, lifestyle composite photos. It’s kind of a long man. You called. We called stock Stock Composites is another short name for it, but it’s really cool because of what we do, is we? We start with a stock photo. So if you go to Istock Photo, there’s all these images that have been pre created with professional models and professional scenes in a professional environment. So imagine, like a professional model photographed in the kitchen, right? And she’s just leaning up against the counter. And imagine your product is a blender bottle right now, instead of actually going out and photographing this blender bottle in that scene, we can actually look at the way the stock photo was created, the lighting and stuff and then will photograph the blender bottle and light it in the same way so that it matches that stocks. That stock scene and then our re touches will retouch it into the scene so that it looks perfect and we’re really good at this. And, ah, it’s only 150 bucks per photo, and it’s a great way to create these lifestyle photos at a really high, high end professional level.
spk_1:
22:55
I’ve got a client that I’m thinking of would be a good fit for this. They have, ah, lights. And, like, flush mounts and stuff like that, They would be a great candidate. I’m gonna I’m writing that down right now to make sure I go refer that one for composite shots. That’s really good.
spk_0:
23:10
Yeah. We can definitely do stuff like that. Lights on a wall like you start with a room scene, um, or or hanging lights. We can do stuff like that. Um, you know, getting those scenes looking looking really good. Um, those lifestyle photos, um, I I’m really excited about this. This Ah, this new service we’re offering, So
spk_1:
23:29
all right, a couple more questions for you. So, Jack, what’s the what was the funnest product you ever had to shoot?
spk_0:
23:36
Oh, man. Um, so it’s like so many after, like, go down the list of
spk_1:
23:43
about off a couple. That’s fine. And then pick one you want to talk about Maybe
spk_0:
23:46
So we did. We did this huge project with Chlo Ron, which is this beauty product brand who’s really big out in ah, in in Europe. And they have a U. S presence. They’re not as big out here, but they’re huge brand, and they just got really creative with us. I love it when brands get creative with us, and they provide really good direction as to how to do it. And, um and they wanted to do this like hard light. Look where this hard light shadow was going across their product. It was kind of like an overhead kind of thing. Um, and it really kind of redefined. It created a whole new lighting style for us, and we way actually offer, um ah, background service called Hard light. Because of them on, it was just super fun to shoot. And we had a really great time, just kind of working around their specs and stuff. So, um, you know, brands, if you’re listening, you know, challenge us with some really fun and creative lighting.
spk_1:
24:42
That’s that’s awesome. It’ll definitely take a creative person to challenge you guys. I could guess. Yeah, All right. All right. So ah, types of photos. So there’s a lot of different types of photos that can be taken. Could you just, you know, quickly run me through the types and, you know, obviously got angle shots and close ups and far aways and whatever. Just walk me through some general general photo shots. People should get
spk_0:
25:05
so, um, in specific to Amazon. Sure think. Yeah. OK, so So I believe that the the anatomy of a perfect listing is a really awesome main listing image, right? And And that images needs to be really stand out amongst all your competitors, right? So in that in that category search or that keyword search, that image has to be different. It needs to pop its look great.
spk_1:
25:30
We’re nobody’s gonna click on it to begin with and
spk_0:
25:33
right or is right. You want to stand out, You want to be different, you know, And, um And then after that, there’s the’s other secondary listing images, right? So, um, I think one pitfall that people fall into is just doing the front back inside of their product. That’s not what those those images air for. Nobody cares about that. Where people really care about is, um, are images that sell features. You know, start talking about what makes your product special. So is it Is it extra big, you know, is it does it comes a pack. Is it tough? is it, you know, made of actual glass? I don’t know, like, and you can see you would take a product photo and then do, like, call outs on it. Maybe a little closer detail shots. And And instead of just showing what the product is in the secondary images really sell me on what makes this product special. And
spk_1:
26:28
I like that. So really, sell me. Show me the context of the item. Um, interesting pitfall conversation with front, back inside. Just too limiting. We got to go above and beyond that. Show me the context of why I should buy your product versus All
spk_0:
26:40
right,
spk_1:
26:41
guys. Product with front, front, front, side and back shots. That makes sense. Right. Well, cool. Jeff. I appreciate you coming on the my Amazon guy a podcast today. Photography is obviously complex subject. Um, last question for you. Anything else you want to tell listeners before we end here today?
spk_0:
26:59
Um, yeah, I guess if you’re listening today, um, you know, these are hard times right now. It’s Ah, it’s crazy out there. Um, but hang in there. And, um, you know, now is the time to to create a brand and create a product. Um, is what happened the last time? We’ll get through this and Ah, yeah, Just keep pushing forward and keep selling.
spk_1:
27:22
Well, perfect. Thanks again, Jeff. For joining me. That was Jeff the presidents of power photography. And we appreciate you coming on. Thanks so much. All right, so that’s my Amazon broadcast. Feel
spk_0:
27:34
free to sell three of people
spk_1:
27:36
about us in your network so we can spread the word with you.

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