As technology transforms industries at breakneck speed — sometimes to the point of rendering them unrecognizable — it’s fair to wonder where high-volume photography is headed. Our sector is on the bleeding edge of technology, both in terms of the equipment we use and how our customers expect to engage with us, which makes our arena a prime candidate for transformation. Exciting, yes. But radical change leaves casualties. Any studio not willing or able to change with the times is at risk of being left behind.
The rewards of successfully adapting, however, are great. The opportunities ahead have the potential to enhance everything from the way we manage our people to the speed at which we’re able to deliver products. And there’s even more good news: As technology reshapes the way the world works, increasing efficiencies and reducing costs, we have an advantage that many other industries don’t.
Until the pandemic made remote work standard operating procedure, most businesses had no reliable model for it. High-volume photography is all about remote work supported by technology. We’re used to being out of the office, dashing back and forth between non-office locations, working on laptops, and hunting down Wi-Fi signals and cell coverage. With that head-start, we can now draw on the wisdom of other remote-working industries to find new innovations to add to our arsenal.
The distributed workforce model is also becoming increasingly feasible as connection speeds ramp up and wireless coverage improves. Our ultimate vision at Fotomerchant is to facilitate faster, easier people management that simultaneously reduces labor costs and makes studios more efficient at delivering top-notch results for customers.
In fact, let’s talk a little more about results. When your customers interact with highly responsive technologies in other parts of their lives, it can be jarring for them to suddenly be faced with a system, such as an online ecommerce platform, that’s not up to the latest standards. For high-volume photography, this means constantly chasing moving goalposts in terms of results, as customers demand shorter delivery times, a wider range of products, more interesting digital applications and more customizability.
Part of the capacity to deliver at this higher level means recognizing that many of studios’ traditional offerings are losing their value, being replaced by workflows and products that leverage today’s most impactful technologies. These include things like wireless flexibility, facial recognition, and AI-driven automation, to name just a few.
A particularly good example of this is the transition from green screen to automatic background knockouts, where anything to the rear of the photo subject is intelligently removed as soon as the photo is taken. This gives studios greater flexibility in terms of the environments they can capture images in, reducing equipment burdens and set-up times.
Another exciting development is the implementation of dry printing. The days of wet printing are numbered, with silver halide–drenched darkrooms being replaced by dry presses that are faster and more efficient in terms of production resources. These newer technologies have advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years, to the point that the difference between dry- and wet-printed images is virtually indiscernible.
As well as enhancing products and related processes, these technologies can help studios reduce delivery times, with the possibility of near-instantaneous delivery using solutions like those that Fotomerchant provides. Lightning-fast digital delivery also means lower costs, because the printing and logistical infrastructure used for physical provision isn’t necessary.
At the end of the day, the Fotomerchant objective is to support an entirely new studio workflow paradigm, where five-day turnarounds for school photography are guaranteed, whether you’re dealing with one school or 5,000. Where businesses can operate with minimal headcount. Where technology drives infinite, effortless scalability. And where production resources are reduced to zero.
Agree or disagree? I’m always interested in other opinions and ideas about our industry so let us know what you think.