If your business sells products online, then you understand the importance of having great product photos. But for those business owners that don’t have the skills or desire to learn about photography, there are other options.
ProductPhotography offers one of those options. Customers can send their products to the company, and they provide photographs of each item. They can then use the images on websites, advertisements or other materials.
Over the years, ProductPhotography founder Robert House and his small team have worked with some interesting clients and photographed a variety of different products. Read more about this company’s story in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.
What the Business Does:
Mail order product photography.
Businesses that are interested in using the company’s services can contact the company for a quote, then send their products out to be photographed. The company charges a per-photo rate based on the amount of products to be photographed and a few other factors. Then they quickly provide high-resolution photos of each product and either send the products back or discard them, depending on the client’s preference.
Providing a credible, legitimate experience customers can trust.
When he first started the business, House said he was unsure if people would trust him enough to send out their products. But he made sure to provide friendly service and a quick turnaround to provide the best experience possible. Because of that, he said it didn’t take long for the business to get some return clients.
The company has been in business for about 12 years and has built a reputation that clients can trust. Since it was one of the first businesses of its kind, House said that gives them an advantage over newer businesses:
“Having had all of those years to refine and perfect our photography approach gives us an edge over newer competitors in the market, and provides our clients with confidence in our abilities and lends credibility to the services that we offer.”
How the Business Got Started:
On a whim.
In 2003, House and his wife had just been married for a few months. He saw a gap in the market for this type of photography service so he quit his job and jumped in. Luckily, he said his wife was pretty gracious about this big change. He explained:
“I saw a need in the market for this type of mail order product photography service. There was really nothing like it at the time and I thought I’d give it a go, see if people who did not know me would send me their products for photography.”
Securing the ProductPhotography.com domain.
When the business first got started, it was called Robert House Photography. But House wanted a name and domain that reflected the company’s specialty. So he contacted the owner of ProductPhotography.com and he agreed to sell it. House said:
“Having that domain name gives us legitimacy, lends credibility to who we are and what we do and inspires confidence in our clients. It certainly was a “win” for us.”
Spending big on a specialty domain extension.
Earlier this year, some specialty domain extensions became available. One was “.photography.” House decided that having the Product.Photography domain could be beneficial, so they took the gamble and spent $13,000 to secure it.
They still don’t know if this gamble will pay off or if these specialty extensions will ever become popular. But he hopes that if they do, this early risk will help the business in the long run.
“Early on, I’d always been really conservative in my approach to business. I never wanted to feel overextended so I took the slow path of growth. Slow and steady wins the race, sort of thing. It worked out just fine, but if given the option, knowing what I do now, I’d have expanded sooner and taken more risks. I would have analyzed decisions to a lesser degree and let my intuition take the wheel every now and again. The inability to let go of control, I think, hindered our growth a bit in the beginning.”
How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000:
More space, photographers and gear.
“We actually just expanded into our largest studio yet, around 3,000 square feet, and it’s still feeling a little tight. We have two photo studios running simultaneously, in addition to a warehouse dedicated to storage, styling and prepping. It would be really nice to have more room for the studios. Our team of photographers and support staff is fantastic, but a couple more skilled hands would great. And of course with more space and more photographers, more gear is necessary.”
Most Interesting Product They’ve Photographed:
A pomade jar from the Titanic.
“Following the tragic sinking of the ship, this pomade jar sat on the bottom of the ocean, nearly 2 miles below the surface for more than 70 years, until the late 80’s when artifacts started to be retrieved from the downed ship. One of those recovered artifacts was a fully intact pomade jar bearing the name Truefitt & Hill, London who happened to be a client of ours. Needless to say, we were incredibly careful with that small, delicate pomade jar. It was pretty special to be able to hold a little bit of history like that in your hands and it was awe-inspiring to think of the journey that little jar had endured.”
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