The Mobile Commerce Forum here in Houston comprises of two main segments: There’s the conference and then there’s the exhibit floor. The conference begins in earnest this morning at 815am sharp, with frequent breaks to pop into the exhibition area.
Yesterday evening there was a reception in the exhibition area so I managed to take a quick flying tour around it. I’m aiming to visit each stand to get an overview of what each company is doing. One of the rather smart companies I came across last night was Ortery. They’re entirely new to me.
Ortery produce products that almost every single e-commerce (and m-commerce) operation needs: Light studios. To be fair, it’s the sort of thing you don’t think about until you realise just how important photography is to selling products online. It’s super critical.
Indeed, when I think about my own purchasing habits, I get really, REALLY annoyed if I can’t see the product properly, or in any detail. When I think about how my wife shops for clothes — especially for our little boy — a lot of it’s ‘sight unseen’. That is, you read the Amazon, or the totally rubbish product entry on the website and then try your best to make out the product from a 100×100 pixel thumbnail.
It’s a shit experience, to be frank.
I always opt to pay slightly more from a nicely constructed commerce site that offers decent photography of the stuff I’m trying to buy. It gives me more confidence that the company is reputable. And I’m not just talking static photography. I’d like to be able to zoom into detail and to spin the product(s) around using flash (or HTML5 if I’m on the iPhone or iPad).
Perhaps the worst experience shopping (beyond stupidly designed sites) is when you’re forced to endure amateur imagery that actually features hands, fingers and reflections of the site’s webmaster trying to get a decent photo.
Or when the image is too over-exposed by an over-active flash. Or too many annoying shadows. Poor image quality on shopping sites really, really winds me up.
So how do sites get proper photography done?
Well, one option is to get a proper agency to take the photos. This is certainly doable, but expensive, especially if you’ve got a lot of goods — or if you’ve got frequently changing stock. Or, as is more likely, you want to control the photography yourself.
Another option — and it looks like a sensible one for me — is to get hold of your own Light Booth/Studio from Ortery.
They’ve got all sorts of models but the one I saw on their stand yesterday was about the size of a small refridgerator. Inside this box was a turntable which was connected to a laptop. One side (or a top, if you like) of the box was open, enabling a camera on a tripod to shoot the product.
The laptop — using the Ortery Windows app — controls everything. So if you want a 3D flash video of your product, no problem. Press the buttons and hit ‘go’ and watch as the turntable moves as the camera snaps the relevant photos. The app will then stitch everything together into a flash/HTML5 file. Or you can get stand-alone imagery.
Here’s a sample of the type of quality you can get:
You can find out a heck of a lot more at the company’s site. And rather interestingly, they don’t just focus on helping you photograph small products. No, you can actually use their technology to shoot full size human beings.
I think I need one of these lightbox studios to take proper product photos for Mobile Industry Review.