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MarlonPhotography
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About
MarlonPhotography's posts

Happy New Year to all. 2016 was a good year. We are on track to make 2017 even better. We are currently in the process of expanding with plans to move to a larger location to service new and existing clients more efficiently.

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Many good years have passed with a plethora of catalog photography products which highlight my portfolio. I am grateful for all of the great clients who made this possible.
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I photograph all brands for e-commerce merchants with their own company storefront or for Amazon and E-bay retailers. I see a lot of unique and original manufactured items mostly new or a small percentage that may have been acquired in a closeout sale or being sold as a premium used item. Occasionally an item may catch my eye and I put an extra effort into making it look great with the intent that it may be a good piece to show in my portfolio. This MK watch was one such item.
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A potential client mentioned that they purchase their merchandise from India and the prices are just right, including freight. They added that since their costs are so low then why should they pay more for photography. I replied that they could either ship their items back to India with the hope that they would be photographed correctly or they may send them all to me right here in the good old USA for fees that are just slightly higher than India's fees because I have to pay studio assistants enough to afford to live in North American real estate and purchase food and gas at North American prices. They just recently sent a few samples for a complimentary test shoot. :-)
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It's a dog's coat. I created custom props to shoot this one as if an invisible dog was modeling it. Even though it may be a great shot which represents the color and fitted shape and textures, the client ended up using a live pet, which i do not do. Their images were not consistent and they even used a stuffed animal in some of the shots. They had over 100 items which could have been very consistent from the first image to the last if they went with my way. I was not disappointed at all that they decided to do them differently on their own. I was happy to experiment with a completely new item. I sometimes create custom props for clients and do not charge additional fees for setups since it is possible that I may use the prop for others in the future.
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Shooting reflective metals are definitely one of the most challenging materials to capture correctly. I spend 2-3 times longer on extremely reflective products. There is a mental conflict at times between blocking out all reflection, utilizing natural ones, or deciding that some items will be a total edit job.
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Shoot one, output many was actually mentally difficult to accept until I started producing them myself. This particular imagery reinforced my thinking about being diversified in a competitive world. Clients love the consistency with this method.
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When stock markets crashed and real estate crumbled just over a decade ago, many of the unemployed were forced to look for ways to make a living when 9-5 jobs were not available. Literally millions of people turned to photography as a way to make ends meet since technology and training was extremely easy to access online. This surge towards professional photography careers seemed to over saturate a market that was already highly competitive and challenging. The average end user looking for professional services had to be overwhelmed with the choices of websites and different levels of quality before deciding to hire a photographer for their needs.
I personally remember when I was a highly recommended event photographer with a Google first page listing and displayed great imagery in my portfolio. At the time potential clients were comparing my services to other photographers based on the total cost and not the quality of my work. On any give day I did a local search on Google maps in my local zip code and noticed that in a 5-10 mile radius the map showed hundreds or even over one thousand choices for photography. My established business which provided a superior quality than many of the local listings near me was also soon plagiarized. The suspects even used all of my images. I investigated and learned that my established website was duplicated by a young couple who had moved to South Florida looking for employment and took the easiest path by stealing my work. Months after my phone stopped ringing and the emails had almost stopped I decided to search the web for my plagiarized material and discovered other had also copied some of my original text as part of their pages. I legally had many of them stopped and decided not to try to rebuild my event photography services but concentrated on promoting my commercial product photography services which was less stressful and not quite as competitive as event photography. It would appear that event photography probably made up around 60-70 percent of all of the photography services in the world today or at least in South Florida. That thinking made it easier for me to concentrate on honing my skills and offering an affordable option to online retailers who were seeking professional product photography.
Within a year after the dilemma my services for product photography began to grow. I observed and paid close attention to the attitudes and likes and dislikes of clients from all levels of professionalism. I was also surprised to know that many of them did not initially seek out professional photography services and with the rise of the cellular revolution they were producing imagery for online sales with poor results. They seemed to have been at it for a few years before acknowledging that it did not improve their sales. As I became aware of the overall expectations and the client transitions from cellular photography to professional imagery, I slowly began looking for ways to address their needs in a timely manner and create an almost assembly line system and still maintained the high quality I was already offering. Becoming innovative in my process and constantly thinking on a daily basis of ways to produce better images at an extremely fast pace landed clientele who were even shipping as many as 12,000 samples a year to be photographed. At any given week I had over 500 new items to work on. I employed a couple assistants and kept pace with my clientele. It was a sweet deal to be able to shoot dozens of color variations of one style without changing setups, exposure, white balance and props. As business continued to grow I was also longing for diversity in my portfolio and was not getting it from larger clients. As time went by I pondered on my longing to diversify my portfolio. They say that timing is everything and then Amazon exploded with the most diverse sellers of any e-commerce portal in the world. Sellers were moving away from Ebay and even Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, was beginning to pay attention to Amazon’s growth. I believe that one year Amazon even spent over 100 billion dollars on just the delivery of merchandise in the United States. In addition to their growth they were setting higher standards on how sellers needed to display merchandise by seeking out professional photography services. This was part of their plan to not be in the same category as Ebay and other auction portals with lower standards. They went even further to drop ship merchandise at unheard of shipping deadlines as well as Sunday delivery.
I wanted diversity and I saw opportunity through Amazon. In recent years I began marketing services to smaller clients while still maintaining my base of established larger businesses. With smaller clients and smaller quantities I could still gain the sales to support my business but had more time in between jobs for family and recreation. Amazon went as far as to develop a standard in their own studios for producing amazing photography on a pure white background and even secured a patent on their setup to keep photographers from copying their system. I really don’t believe they were trying to take anything away from photographers but instead promoting their interests in maintaining a higher standard for their selling platform. Amazon even offers professional product photography to sellers but at a much higher rate than anyone wants to pay. This is where smaller established studios like mine could benefit. I already have my own system for producing pure white backgrounds in the camera many years before Amazon developed their own. I am now producing quality images for many smaller clients with average quantities of 20-30 diverse items in a timely manner. It is no secret that my rates on my website http://www.marlonphoto.com are lower than other studios of comparable quality and definitely much lower than Amazon’s. I am presently communicating to as many as 5- 10 new clients every week, many of them returning for additional services. I’m still always searching mentally daily for ways to improve my services and quality and still turn jobs around quickly. I’m setting myself apart from traditional photography with new techniques on a regular basis. As Amazon continues to succeed as the largest retail platform in existence I can envision years of continued service from my studio to clients who are building an online presence with superior images. If someone else like Walmart develops different system to challenge of surpass Amazon I will also adapt to new ways to grow and be of service to their sellers as well. We may not be earring as high a rate on photography as we did decades ago but the volume and return clientele is surely a rewarding surprise.


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Photography services to small business owners who sell and market products and merchandise online at Amazon, E-bay and business websites.

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Silver or metallic products perfectly white balanced to show correct color representation. No color correction is performed on any product shoots. 
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