Sunday, October 12, 2008

Photo Styling and the Economy

Being in this industry for several decades, I have seen ups and downs and the effect the economy has on the creation of commercial photographs. When postal rates or paper costs increase the catalog industry is rapidly affected. In an effort to save money in tough economic times, advertisers cut print budgets and produce fewer images. They may use more stock photographs or squeak by without a stylist.

I found this editorial opinion in the August 2008 issue of Multi-Channel Merchant, formerly Catalog Age magazine, a trade publication for the catalog/web-marketing indusry. Written by Laura L. Hamblen, an independent stylist, it reflects the feelings of many of us. I was unable to find Laura in a Web search and I hope she doesn't mind my acolades for expressing her viewpoint so well.

She writes, "As a photo stylist, I have been affected by the current economy, along with most of my colleagues in the visual field. The 'bean counters' behind many catalogs are cutting the very people who are the interface between the company and its customers."Many are opting to hire people who cost less and have little experience to handle the presentation of their product, so photographs are not as striking and informative as they might be. After seeing the result, one might wonder why a customer might spend, say, $80 on a mid-priced catalog product that looks no better than the $10 offering at the local discount store. The answer is that in most circumstances, they won't.

"An experienced, talented stylist, photographer and crew will know a brand's customer and how to visually attract that customer to purchase. Understanding how to illustrate all of the product's unique qualities in an attractive and consistent fashion will typically enhance sales. And higher sales should more than offset the cost of hiring seasoned professionals."Many companies will blame their downturn in sales on the economy without thinking about the consequences of cutting the professionals who produce the images of their products. And this will make a difficult economic climate for catalogs decidedly worse."

Well said, Laura. What is YOUR opnion on the current economy's effect on stylists - and vice-versa? Please add to this POST.

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