StyleShoots is a photo machine (with an embedded Canon 5D mkII DSLR camera, Mac mini computer, and iPad app) that is used for product photography. It allows users to quickly and easily create images that are ready to publish online and in print. Features include automatic background removal, the ability to export photos in multiple dimensions, file types, and qualities, zoom capability, and customizable settings for backgrounds, compression, dimensions, and more.
Machines sell for $85,000. Leasing options starting at $2,500 per month are available, and the machine can also be rented for $300 per hour in a New York City and Los Angeles showroom.
Genevieve Ascencio, senior account director at Factory PR, has been using StyleShoots since August 2013.
How do you use it?
We start by brainstorming about what we're lacking in terms of visual assets we can use for media and blog pitches, as well as for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram because we also handle those channels for our clients.
When we know what we need to shoot, we head over to the StyleShoots office in New York City. We usually book one hour and send two people so the shooting goes a little faster.
The machine is sort of like a billiard table – it's a really large surface so you can shoot more than one product at a time. Having two people simultaneously using the machine makes it quick and cost efficient.
There's a computer within the machine, so it's not like a regular camera. You just hit a button, and it takes a few moments to capture the image.
It allows you to get two kinds of images – one on a light background and one with the image cut out. There's a trend now where consumers are making their own looks using cut out images of various products. We do that quite a lot for our clients so their customers can visualize how to put things together, and being able to get images that are already cut out is really helpful.
We usually download all of the images we shoot onto a USB stick.
We had a training session the first time we used StyleShoots. Now we work on our own when we go in. There's always someone there to help if you have a problem or a question, but we don't typically have issues.
How does it serve your business needs?
The work we do as a PR agency has changed a great deal – we have become photographers, creative directors, and copywriters. So many things fall within the scope of work for a PR agency now that you really have to have resources such as StyleShoots to fulfill clients' needs.
StyleShoots has increased the results we get for clients because it gives us the ability to provide media and bloggers with assets they need to run stories on our clients.
Most media outlets ask us for a high-resolution image of an item so they don't have to shoot it. Many times we may not have it, but StyleShoots solves that problem.
For example, if New York magazine wants to run one of our client's shoes in its holiday guide, and we don't have a shot of that shoe, it might cost us $2,000 to shoot it with a photographer in a studio. StyleShoots is a couple of hundred dollars per an hour, almost anyone at our agency can use it, and time is never an issue – StyleShoots has never told us we can't get in to shoot.
We have seen an increase in placements we have been able to secure for clients. One week after our first shoot, we got a placement in a weekly magazine, so we immediately saw the benefit and so did our clients.
It also gives us all the images we need to keep engagement high on clients' social media channels. We represent brands that release new products every day, so we need to make sure all their social media platforms have fresh imagery because consumers rely on social media channels to get images of clothing, shoes, and accessories that they can't get on a brand's e-commerce site or website.
How does it integrate with your existing infrastructure from an IT standpoint?
It doesn't. We move images from the machine to our computers with a USB stick.
What are the main benefits?
It's cost effective.
We didn't have to sign a contract, and we don't have to use a certain amount of hours per month or year.
It allows us to react quickly to media and blogger requests for images and be even more creative in terms of social media posts.
It is also very easy to use.
What are the main drawbacks?
I haven't identified any drawbacks. It's been fantastic.
What would you like to see improved/added?
Having machine showrooms in additional cities would be great, as everyone always wants more.
Our client Macy's Merchandising Group owns one of the machines. We have other clients that I believe could really benefit from owning a machine, but buying the machine is cost prohibitive for most. If StyleShoots could make a smaller, more affordable machine, I would definitely recommend that our clients buy one.
Professional photographers and graphic designers.