Hacking Photography – one Picture at a time
Digital payments company Square has just launched Square Photo Studio, a new app that lets you take and edit product photos in a few clicks. It’s useful for small businesses who sell their products on online platforms, and it allows you to take “professional” photos. But how professional are they, really? Can they replace dedicated photographers who would take decent shots of the stuff you sell? Let’s see.
The app seems pretty simple to use from what I can see. The first thing you need to do is, obviously, open it and take a photo of your item. The app will first walk you through a set of simple photography tips for lighting, framing, and more. It guides you to get your image straight, and it remembers your settings so you get consistent shots every time.
Next, it’s time to style your photos. Like a bunch of other apps nowadays, the Square Photo Studio app is equipped with AI-powered tools. The app recognizes the subject, deletes the image background, and adds a transparent one. Now you can choose a preset or custom color background so that it appears you took your photo in a studio. You can even add “a realistic shadow.”
Once you’re happy with your photos, you can go straight to selling your product online. The app lets you create Square items through it and sync them with your Square catalog. You can also connect new photos to existing items.
David Rusenko, head of eCommerce at Square, recognizes the importance of high-quality images for selling your products. “Unfortunately, the cost, skillset, and labor involved with taking those photos were often prohibitive,” he says. “Now, with Square Photo Studio, sellers can give their items the look of a professional photo studio shoot from the comfort of their home, the office, or on the go.”
An app like this is a fantastic idea for small businesses that still can’t afford a professional photographer to take photos of their products. It’s even useful for individuals who just want to sell their stuff on eBay. Good photos will definitely gain more attention and you’re more likely to sell your products, even if it’s just a bunch of random second-hand items.
I’m lucky to be a photographer so I take photos of my own stuff in order to get potential buyers’ attention. But not everyone has photography skills, or time and willingness to master them. On the other hand, they may still not be able to afford a photographer, so apps like this are a helpful tool.
So what’s the problem? Well, first, pay attention to the sneaker in the demo (the shoelace). It’s not the same photo edited with the app. Also, look at those gorgeous catchlights on the wine bottle – I think you need more than a crappy room light to take a photo like that. All of this makes me wonder how trustworthy the demo is. One of my photos was used for a fake demo, so pardon me for being a bit skeptical.
Another problem is that these just aren’t professional photos. Kudos for the distraction-free background, but I don’t think they look nice. As I said, I get it, not everyone is a photographer in addition to their other job. And not everyone can afford a professional photographer in the early stages of running a business. However, I still think the photos will look more professional if you learn a few basic things about lighting and composition, and then take your own shots. You can even improvise a bunch of lights, backdrops, and whatnot without investing too much (or any) money. After all, DIYPhotography is all about it.
Finally, you should hire a real photographer. Once your business kicks off, you need someone who knows exactly what they’re doing to make truly stunning photos of your products. Before you even start a business, consider the budget particularly for the photographer, you won’t regret it.
To sum up, I’m not saying this app is all bad. I’m always up for trying stuff out and playing with photo apps. After all, it’s free so you can see if it works for you or not. Sadly, there’s only iOS version so I wasn’t able to try it out, but you can do it and let me know how you like it.
John Aldred is based in Scotland and photographs people in the wild and animals in the studio. You can find out more about John on his website and follow his adventures on YouTube.
Dunja Djudjic is a writer and photographer from Novi Sad, Serbia. You can see her work on Flickr, Behance and her Facebook page.
Alex is a commercial photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She mostly shoots people and loves anything to do with the outdoors. You can see her work on her website and follow her Spanish landscape adventures on instagram.
Adam Frimer is a Guinness World Record holder, producer, and DOP based in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Adam owns a production company that specializes in corporate marketing and brand strategy. His videos have collectively hit over a quarter billion views