June 27, 2014, 4:19 PM

How an eyewear e-retailer saves time and money on product photography

FrancisDrakeEyewear.com took images for 42 eyeglass frames in three hours, which would have taken two days with traditional digital photography equipment.

Lead Photo

Photographing 42 pairs of frames with traditional digital photography tools for Francis Drake Eyewear’s launch this week would have taken Tyler Evans two days, he estimates. But, with new photography software, it took him just three hours.

Online eyewear retailer FrancisDrakeEyewear.com launched this week, and it is the first foray into consumer sales for the Evans family, which started eyewear wholesale company J&K Optical in 1988.

For the wholesale business, product images were not particularly important, Evans says. But consumers buying online rely on images to see exactly what they’re getting, he says. “Obviously, price and quality of the product is going to play a factor, but you have to have nice images,” Evans says. “Consumers think that what they’re seeing on the screen is exactly what they’re going to get. With wholesalers, it’s a little different. They have an idea what they’re getting quality wise.”

So, for the launch of FrancisDrakeEyewear.com, it was important to take high-quality product images, but the e-retailer didn’t have thousands of dollars to spend for professional photography. Evans turned to Shutter Stream, a photography software developed especially for e-commerce product images.

Evans says the software allowed him to take three shots of a pair of glasses in one or two minutes—compared to the 15 minutes it would have taken him with traditional digital photography tools.

With Shutter Stream, a photographer can send images from a digital camera to a computer through a USB cord, then see what each image looks like on the computer screen rather than having to look through the camera’s view finder. The software also turns the mouse into a shutter button, allowing the user to take images with the click of a mouse.

The software also features an overlay option that lets the photographer see the previous shot, which allows for consistency if the photographer needs shots of a product from multiple angles and so similar products have the same framing. That lends a professional look to the images, Evans says.

An editing interface is included with the software and allows for batch editing, which means the same edits can be applied to multiple photos at one time instead of having to make individual changes. For example, if each image needs to be cropped to a square size, that can be done with one edit and applied to all selected photos.

Many smaller retailers use images provided by vendors or manufacturers, but having unique images can also boost a retailer’s position on search engine results pages, says Michael Atman, the CEO of IconaSys Inc., the developer of Shutter Stream. Atman says retailers can distinguish their unique product images by using alt text, the text that appears when a browser can’t display an image; matching image names to focused keywords and product names; and keeping the background consistent throughout all products images, regardless of manufacturer.

The software retails for $349. IconaSys also offers free trials of the software.

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