By Mario Toneguzzi
StylePhotos, based in Vaughan, Ontario, is an innovative photography and videography service geared at helping businesses create high quality photos and videos of their products as well as enabling companies to rent equipment to help bring their vision to life.
StylePhotos aims to help businesses improve their bottom line by reducing photography and videography costs, reducing wait-time for the products to be ready by eliminating the need for post-production, increasing quality of product photography and videography by maintaining consistency and transition of colour.
“We started off with an online platform originalluxury.ca to sell luxury fashion accessories such as Artioli belts and Faliero Sarti, Joshua Ellis, and other designer scarves that are imported from Italy and Britain. Given the nature of the luxury segment, and having contracts with Billionaire and Philipp Plein fashion houses that we are bringing this summer it was crucial for us to translate the quality of these pieces in the pictures and videos that we use on our website do depict them,” said Husan Aripov, Partner at StylePhotos.
“Our first order of scarves arrived in September of 2018 and we spent most of August searching for a photo studio that could take pictures for us - at that time we did not even think about the videos. To our surprise, an average cost of product photography on a per image basis started at $15-18 without any editing or product preparation. With editing, background removal, steaming, etc., prices quickly climb to $60-75 per image. Given that our product portfolio would easily exceed 1,000 units, and they require at least two to three images, we started looking for other innovative solutions, and found one based out of Europe.”
StylePhotos was established from that experience - a one-stop-shop commercial product photography and videography studio that provides a range of services to retailers, designers, and business owners.
“We have successfully imported and installed three separate and unique systems dedicated towards a specific product photography or videography need. We have the Horizontal system for flat-lay photography that is ideal for fashion, and flat products. We also have the Live system that is used for product photography and videography with live models and ghost mannequin compatibility. Finally, we have the latest product - the Eclipse, that is dedicated towards product photography, and videography including 360 videos. All machines are equipped with the latest cameras from Canon and hardware from Apple,” said Aripov.
“All machines are operated with an iPad, that allows for a consistent, and high-quality output to be achieved.”
He said StylePhotos offers its clients two options for using its services. The first option is a simple one. Customers bring the product to StylePhotos and it will take the pictures and videos. Within two to four days all the content will be sent to the customer and items will be ready for pickup.
The second option, which is very popular among local designers, is the rental opportunity where clients come to the studio and rent the equipment to take photos and videos of their products for a specific number of hours.
“We offer training to these clients and assist them along the way. When looking for a space for our studio we reviewed multiple locations, including the downtown core. We needed something that was not too far from a major highway and had easy access for parking to drop off and pick up of products. We were also cautious about the cost for leasing, since we wanted to focus on helping smaller designers like ourselves in creating photo and video content that would compete with content of premium brands while being affordable,” said Aripov.
“We were able to find a perfect location in Concord, around the Rutherford and Keele area, with the necessary space for all three machines, and a dedicated storage room for every client. This approach proved to be successful.”
He said the company is not currently planning to expand given the fact that startup costs are quite excessive.
“However, we are looking for an opportunity to expand into British Columbia at a later point,” he said.
“Moving the location of our studio to Toronto would undeniably increase our costs of operations thus significantly increasing the cost of our services. We do not want to do that - having an acceptable lease rate allows us to pass these savings to our clients, ultimately benefiting both parties. Initially, when we brought the equipment we had a strong feeling that fashion companies would be our primary customers. It proved to be incorrect. Right now, we have major construction material manufacturers such as tiles and hardwood, as well as large pharmaceutical companies using our services to either create catalogues of their products, or update their images on their websites.
“Ultimately, our client is any individual or corporation who is looking to get professional high quality, consistent photos or videos of their products at a low cost, but with a quick turnaround time.”
Aripov said successful retailers of tomorrow are uniting their physical stores, online stores, and social media stores together to create a stronger brand and message to their clients. Any brand that is lagging behind this trend will lose its position in the marketplace, putting its existence at risk.
“StylePhotos is here to help Canadian businesses in the process of establishing themselves, and competing in the marketplace with better, higher quality content while utilizing innovative technologies that made this process cheaper, more efficient and more effective,” he said.
“Technologies and especially disruptive technologies change the way we work, live, and learn. The technological innovation and processes that StylePhotos brought to the Toronto market aims to resolve the main issues relevant in the industry: high cost, lack of consistency, and long processing times. Throughout our interaction with clients we witnessed both positive and somewhat unwarranted negative feedback. To our surprise, creative directors and marketing managers of photography departments are seemingly concerned with the fact that our machines eliminate the need for photographers despite the fact that we provide much higher output and quality of the content thus lowering the operational costs. Instead, the concern is the fact that according to their views we eliminate jobs in that sector for the Canadian market thus threatening their personal financial well-being.
“We believe that these claims are in fact false, because this view is limited to larger firms where employees do not consider cost optimization as a benefit for the company, simply because they are not the owners and see no personal benefit of using such technology. We view our business model differently. Our firm allows small and medium sized businesses to expand, lower their operational costs, and bring their new products online faster thus allowing for faster commercialization and turnover of stock. In most of the instances we are the ‘to-go’ place for smaller designers and truly Canadian based companies, that actually manufacture in Canada whereas these other, larger ‘Canadian’ retailers manufacture overseas in countries like China, or Myanmar. Our goal as an enterprise, is to grow our clients’ business, which in turn would benefit both parties.”
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*StylePhotos partnered with Retail Insider for this story. To work with Retail Insider, email: email@example.com