The E-commerce Content Creation Podcast

Creative Force, Daniel Jester

The E-commerce Content Creation Podcast takes a broad look at the impact of creative production in retail and e-commerce — focusing in on specific creative production functions and roles and how they collaborate with other e-commerce functions to achieve their respective organizational goals.

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Innovation, Safety, and Social Media with Martin Torner of Matthews Studio Equipment
1w ago
Innovation, Safety, and Social Media with Martin Torner of Matthews Studio Equipment
SummaryIf you’re like many people, having grown up in commercial photo studios, you may not have spent a lot of time interrogating the history of your grip equipment. But for Martin Torner, who spent close to 20 years as a grip working on film and television productions before joining Matthews Studio Equip., it’s all about the history of innovation and serving a tight knit industry who values efficiency and safety. Martin joins me for this episode to talk about how it all started for Matthews, what it means to be a pioneer and innovator in your industry, and how social media and supporting smaller scale creators plays into it for this legendary equipment manufacturer. Key TakeawaysMatthews has been in business for over 50 years, and was born from the extraordinarily talented key grips and electricians of the old days of film production.Matthews developed tools and systems for production that allowed for great advancements in how film productions were produced and much of that informs how we work in e-commerce photo studios.Safety is paramount at Matthews, and social media is key in getting that message out.Matthews has always been good at viral video, going back to the founder riding a dolly down his driveway to show what it was capable of.Matthews believes in servicing all creators, from the individual content creators to full scale bug budget film production.CreditsProduced by: Creative Force - creativeforce.ioEdited by: Calvin Lanz Sound - clsound.netHosted by: Daniel Jester - danieltjester.com
Innovation, Safety, and Social Media with Martin Torner of Matthews Studio Equipment
1w ago
Innovation, Safety, and Social Media with Martin Torner of Matthews Studio Equipment
SummaryIf you’re like many people, having grown up in commercial photo studios, you may not have spent a lot of time interrogating the history of your grip equipment. But for Martin Torner, who spent close to 20 years as a grip working on film and television productions before joining Matthews Studio Equip., it’s all about the history of innovation and serving a tight knit industry who values efficiency and safety. Martin joins me for this episode to talk about how it all started for Matthews, what it means to be a pioneer and innovator in your industry, and how social media and supporting smaller scale creators plays into it for this legendary equipment manufacturer. Key TakeawaysMatthews has been in business for over 50 years, and was born from the extraordinarily talented key grips and electricians of the old days of film production.Matthews developed tools and systems for production that allowed for great advancements in how film productions were produced and much of that informs how we work in e-commerce photo studios.Safety is paramount at Matthews, and social media is key in getting that message out.Matthews has always been good at viral video, going back to the founder riding a dolly down his driveway to show what it was capable of.Matthews believes in servicing all creators, from the individual content creators to full scale bug budget film production.CreditsProduced by: Creative Force - creativeforce.ioEdited by: Calvin Lanz Sound - clsound.netHosted by: Daniel Jester - danieltjester.com
Talent Retention and Growth with Josie Diamond
Jul 26 2022
Talent Retention and Growth with Josie Diamond
SummaryIt’s not an uncommon idea that the tenure of a creative team member in an e-commerce studio tends to be short. 2-3 years typically. It’s easy to understand how this idea persists because creative production for e-commerce can be quite repetitive, and changing teams, studios, brands can help keep things interesting for a career product photographer or other creative role. What if we in the studio challenged this idea? What if we create policies and culture that encourages retention and rewards it? Easier said than done, but Josie Diamond and Daniel have a bit to say about it. Key TakeawaysOften we think of the lifecycle of the creative in a studio as a full time employee to be only 2-3 years. We accept that and in some cases don’t really seem interested in changing it.I believe we should be actively working with our teams to get them ready for their next career move, whether in-house or elsewhereWhat are some reasons that a studio SHOULD consider making an effort to retain employees beyond what is generally accepted?High retention is desirable, especially when recruiting new employees. It’s an attractive pull, and even more so in such a competitive market.Social media is also a strong tool these days, with a high likelihood of good and bad practices being shared - you won’t attract great talent unless you prioritize keeping the great talent you already haveKnowledge stays within the team/business, and true progress can be realized in longer term projects, process changes or business-wide strategySome studies have shown that it can take individuals up to 18 months to fully settle, build confidence and learn the ropes inside & out of a new business - if this is true, we’re losing all positive momentum just as it starts with every resignationHave you experienced any programs or policies that you felt helped retention for creatives?Allowing use of equipment and space out of hours for testing & personal shootsIncluding (& protecting) time for R&D in the job description - this applies to every role, whether its sample management, pre & all the way through to post productionCOST days (Creative Off Set Time) - I’ve not experienced this myself, though have heard it mentioned enough times - it’s a great initiative, and relatively low cost if it’s planned in effectivelyWhat types of policies (official or unofficial) tend to hurt retention in the studio?All starts and ends with budget - if there is no budget assigned to learning and development, you will risk your team departingIn today’s world - flexibility in terms of location, hours etc. Provide some flexibility for real life scenarios we all deal with.Return to work plans for those on parental leave - I think this is a major area where development is required, especially for those roles that are based on site.Removing any limiting policies in the employment contract that allow you to work elsewhere at the same time - cliché but the world today is a different place, and deterring anyone from benefiting outside of your organization isn’t fitting anymore - if it’s not a direct competitor and little risk to your operation, just remove it from the contract - your team will be happierImage rights for personal work in employment contract - I once worked somewhere where the wording in the contract was so vague, that it stated any image created by the employee would be owned by the business - read your contracts! That business owns a lot of my pet portraits.For a studio that is serious about retaining talent, where should they start? (use this to talk about the interview and onboarding processes, in addition to everything else)An honest interview process - don’t gear people up for a perfect workplace, you’ll risk losing your talent far sooner than the 2-3 years!Proper onboarding - shadowing of all areas of the team and stakeholder teams in the wider business. Allow ample time for building relationships.  I think we’ve all been guilty of letting people come in and get on with it. It’s been a recent reminder for me to create an onboarding plan, not just for your full time team but also your freelancers! Super important, with the increase of hybrid teams.Have no expectations of new hires for the first few weeks.How can you prioritize expanding the skill stack of your teamDo you have a sample support colleague who has a keen interest in production (for example), and can you make them some time to learn this from your existing team, and even support in futureIf your workload peaks and troughs through the year, can colleagues flex in to different projects or areas to support in busy moments - providing alternative work experience for a future career?In-house support, dedicated to coaching talent - recent job we saw (I think it was Farfetch?)Actively discussing the issues of the world, and how you can implement change in the workplace to address them; whether that be DE&I, Sustainability or work life balanceBring in revered external talent to run training sessions, or for teams to shadow whilst they work (agree this with them up front though!)I can’t stress it enough to create flexibility wherever you can. If that meansCan good retention help you attract talent?ABSOLUTELY! We all know and have heard of great employers in the market, and I’ll bet they prioritise the development of their talent, so much so, that they want to stick with them longer term. CreditsProduced by: Creative Force - creativeforce.ioEdited by: Calvin Lanz Sound - clsound.netHosted by: Daniel Jester - danieltjester.com
Making the Business Case with Lauren Stefaniak
Jul 5 2022
Making the Business Case with Lauren Stefaniak
SummaryThere is an art form to asking your company for money or resources, and while business lingo changes and evolves all the time, right now that art form is called making a business case. It might not be a surprise to you that this skill generally doesn’t get taught in photography school nor is it wisdom passed among stylists while setting up the next look. It’s a skill that really gets developed on the job, and the opportunity to practice doesn’t always come up before  your thrust into the hot seat. Lauren Stefaniak joins Daniel on the podcast to help you learn how to make that compelling business case, and hopefully prepare you for a new phase of your career. Key TakeawaysWhat does it mean to make a business case?At its simplest: preparing, developing and presenting an informed point of view in an effort to persuade decision-making in your favorThey can seem daunting but on a micro level we do these every day (“what do you want for dinner”)Most people focus on the presentation, but that’s the smallest part of the wholeIceberg metaphorPreparing - 70%, 10 hoursResearch the hell out of what you’re talking aboutLook internalWho is your company today, tomorrow, yesterdayCan you tie your request to the companies mission or values?Look external (same & different industriesDeveloping - 20%, 3 hoursDistill it down into the most relevant & compelling info – 1-pagerFormat that works best for me:Current StateRequest or the ChangeBenefitsRequirements/Key Enablers[Short-term Recommendation][Long-term Recommendation]Known Open QuestionsUse language that a friend or family member outside your industry would understandTry to predict what questions you might be asked based on your information; assume someone will ask something you’re not prepared forIt can be hard to temper the desire to “show your work” but the details will drag you down & make your presentation less effectivePut the most relevant details into an appendix, 2 pages maxMake the document simple, use visuals as needed (must be pretty)Present & gut-check your work with mid-level partners for their feedback & buy-in ahead of the formal presentationSEND A PRE-READ 48-24 HOURS IN ADVANCERemember: you’ve spent many hours in this detail & even more hours living this; for some of your key stakeholders, this will be entirely new info for them. Your presentation could fall apart if leaders are caught off guard when they’d prefer to be preparedPresenting - 7%, 1 hourEnter the room with this mindset:This is not life or deathThis is not personalThese people are someone else’s family & friendsAsk to hold questions until the end – some questions will be answered in your presentation & Qs won’t derail the whole thingSpeak slowly & leave time for your audience to digest the info & what you’re saying (silence is okay)Allow time for questions & be open, honest in your answersIt’s ok to not know the answer – you can say “that’s a great question, i’ll find out that information and get back to you”If you’re doing it right, the best metaphor to describe you is a duck gliding across a pond (graceful on the surface, paddling like hell under the water)Commit to following through – this is when the real work beginsSend recap notes & next steps following the meetingCreditsProduced by: Creative Force - creativeforce.ioEdited by: Calvin Lanz Sound - clsound.netHosted by: Daniel Jester - danieltjester.com
A Cultural Style Guide with Anna Schaum of Straub Collaborative
Jun 28 2022
A Cultural Style Guide with Anna Schaum of Straub Collaborative
SummaryDEI has been a topic on this podcast before, we’ve recorded 3 episodes on the topic with Jessica Lopez in episode 52, with Karen Williams in Episode 47, and way back in episode 8 with Clair Carter-Ginn. While we were recording the live the episode at the Henry Stewart Photo Studio ops event in New York, we heard again during the Q&A session that this topic is still top of mind for many studio professionals. After our recording session in NY, Marc Katzin of Straub Collaborative and told Daniel about an effort that Straub was undertaking, a cultural style guide and defines DEI for Straub. Marc put Daniel in contact with Anna Schaum and they sat down to discuss this document, and what Straub is doing support DEI efforts across the organization, and how it impacts each employees day to day. Key TakeawaysStraub Collaborative has been developing a "Culture Style Guide" since 2020 to help guide the cultural values of Straub and it's employees. The process truly started in 2016 with the presidential election in the United States. The result of that election was a significant departure for contemporary American politics and created a lot of feelings in people across the political spectrum. Straub noticed tensions in the workplace increasing, and experienced an uptick in negative interactions.Anna's background as a therapist helped her identify the need to give the team at Straub tools they could use to communicate and interact more effectively.As this was in progress, during the summer of 2020, George Floyd was murdered by police officers in Minneapolis. This event precipitated a long, global conversation about race and racism, and we saw many brands and retailers expressing support for black Americans. Following these events, Straub's customers were asking about DEI statements and to express their values. The project really took off when Elizabeth Semple joined the Straub team as VP of Human Resources. The culture team at Straub was developed out of interviews with employees around the mission and values of Straub. The Cultural Style Guide is in 3 parts - Part 1 outlines how straub defines DEI. Part 2 covers inclusive language and part 3 covers diversity in model casting. Links CreditsProduced by: Creative Force - creativeforce.ioEdited by: Calvin Lanz Sound - clsound.netHosted by: Daniel Jester - danieltjester.com
Photo Studio Operations Live! with David Hice
May 17 2022
Photo Studio Operations Live! with David Hice
SummaryOn May 4th 2022 The E-commerce Content Creation Podcast was recorded in front of a LIVE audience at Photo Studio Operations 2022 in New York City hosted by Henry Stewart Events. Recording an episode in front of a live audience is something we have wanted to do since virtually day one of this show, and this event in New York was the perfect opportunity. David Hice of Aritzia joins me for a second round as a guest and we dig a little deeper into some of the topics from his first episode as well as take audience questionsKey TakeawaysThis episode was recorded in front of a live audience at the Henry Stewart Events Photo Studio Operations 2022.Daniel learned not to clip his lav mic to a name badge lanyard, sorry Calvin.Know you KPIs! A project managers mindset for the studio requires a deep understanding of the capabilities of your studio and how that capability impacts studio KPIs. Granularity in your metrics can be difficult to achieve, but provide deep value to studio leadership in order to forecast production throughput. This information can help inform the "Why." Why the studio can or can't do something, and help your cross functional partners understand the impact of the ask. Insulating your creatives (to an extent) can help protect their ability to create without getting bogged down in non-value added processes. We need to do a better job of learning what is creative and what is technical. Creatives sometimes get wrapped up in technical processes and mistaking it for a creative process. Anything we can do to reduce certain touch points, and remove the possibility for parts of the process to fail, can help enhance the creative parts of the process. CreditsProduced by: Creative Force - creativeforce.ioEdited by: Calvin Lanz Sound - clsound.netHosted by: Daniel Jester - danieltjester.com
A Project Management Mindset for the Studio with David Hice of Aritzia
May 3 2022
A Project Management Mindset for the Studio with David Hice of Aritzia
SummaryProject Management as a discipline isn’t exactly second nature to many studio teams around the world, but employing a bit of project management thinking can help inform studio stakeholder relationships, and set your studio up for success. David Hice of Aritzia joins Daniel for this episode to talk about exactly this. ReminderYou can save $100 off your registration fee for the Henry Stewart Events Photo Studio Ops Forum 2022 in New York City on May 4 with discount code CONTENTPOD100. We will be recording a live episode of the show at the event. Hope to see you there!Register HereKey TakeawaysEven in 2022, the idea of the studio as a magic box persists. Project management thinking and communication can help alleviate this. A note on scaling - scaling can go both ways. Build process that can scale up AND down when the needs arise. A clear understanding of KPIs and how to measure them is critical to the project management mindset. The studio needs to know what it can and cannot do and articulate that clearly. Constructive feedback on the complexity of creative requests can be very helpful to stakeholders understanding what is or is not possible. This mindset can also lead to allowing creatives to CREATE more than they manage. The right tools can build fluency and unify the language in the studio. CreditsProduced by: Creative Force - creativeforce.ioEdited by: Calvin Lanz Sound - clsound.netHosted by: Daniel Jester - danieltjester.com
Studio Automation 101 with Marc, Dan, Lesley, and Rob
Apr 19 2022
Studio Automation 101 with Marc, Dan, Lesley, and Rob
SummaryLast week our episode featured some high level discussion about automation in the studio with Marc Berenson. This week Marc is back and he brought friends! In a first for this show we had 4 guests, the team at Stanley Black and Decker that Marc worked with to find ways to automate their repetitive tasks, and save time and effort. As Dan Berzak, head of this efficiency team,  tells us, it’s about leveling not only the playing field, but your own expectations on what you can do. ReminderYou can save $100 off your registration fee for the Henry Stewart Events Photo Studio Ops Forum 2022 in New York City on May 4 with discount code CONTENTPOD100. We will be recording a live episode of the show at the event. Hope to see you there!Register HereKey TakeawaysBuilding off of episode 56, we talk to the team that built a useful and accessible automation system.One of the keys to success this team learned is to make scripts and actions as modular as possible.Level the playing field, find the lowest common denominator. Don't get too specific.If you can get 100 assets 50% of the way to completion with automation, thats better than getting 1 asset 100% of the way.Leveraging tools the studio had already, the team was able to improve accessibility to images, speed up the review process, and provide updates in real time.The team learned not to overuse tools in each platform, so as not to bake in to many changes.Thinking of the entire process as additive is a great way to prevent overcooking your images.Marc theorizes that the future of Photoshop actions may be actions that are triggered by keywords or other metadata.CreditsProduced by: Creative Force - creativeforce.ioEdited by: Calvin Lanz Sound - clsound.netHosted by: Daniel Jester - danieltjester.com
Thoughts on Studio Automation with Marc Berenson
Apr 12 2022
Thoughts on Studio Automation with Marc Berenson
SummaryWe’ve talked a lot on this podcast about agility, scalability and automation. It can sometimes sound like a huge undertaking to pivot a large in-house studio towards automated processes. Automation doesn’t have to be a huge project. Automation can begin with the tools any studio is using today. Marc Berenson joins Daniel on the podcast for this episode to talk about some of his learnings during his time at Stanley Black and Decker, and what he’s been working on since. ReminderYou can save $100 off your registration fee for the Henry Stewart Events Photo Studio Ops Forum 2022 in New York City on May 4 with discount code CONTENTPOD100. We will be recording a live episode of the show at the event. Hope to see you there!Register HereKey TakeawaysElevate the right people above the process, to assess the workflow, tools involved, and any existing scripts or automations being used ad hoc. Build your automation like bricks in a wall. Make a good foundation and build from there. It's possible to take automation too far, don't overdo it. If unexpected things are happening, you need a way out quickly. Leverage the possibilities you have today. Then you standardize and now it's beginning to scale. Stay tuned for part 2 with Marc where we meet the team involved in their scrappy automation efforts and talk about what they found. CreditsProduced by: Creative Force - creativeforce.ioEdited by: Calvin Lanz Sound - clsound.netHosted by: Daniel Jester - danieltjester.com
Has it Been A Year Already?
Apr 5 2022
Has it Been A Year Already?
SummaryOver the last year, we've learned a lot by doing this podcast. Discussing topics covering creation production, through all stages of the process and with key stakeholders, we've started to develop a better understanding of the evolution of creative production and that's helped us make some educated guesses about where the future might take the industry. Recently Daniel had the opportunity to discuss some of the history and future of e-commerce content creation with CBU Photography program's senior class, and in this solo episode of the show, he goes a little deeper on the industry of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Key TakeawaysCreative Production for the modern e-commerce company is just starting to mature.We are just now getting to the point where we have 10+ year veterans of these specific processes in the industry. Will we begin to see specific technical programs related to creative operations? Probably. Brands and Retailers have realized the strategic advantage that their production processes represent. We are shifting from cost center to having strategic value, even in some cases to profit driver. The future of e-commerce will be ushered in by the creative teams, the make up of the teams may look different, the titles may be different, but it will be todays photographers, stylists, digitechs, graphic designers and artists that usher in the next era.CreditsProduced by: Creative Force - creativeforce.ioEdited by: Calvin Lanz Sound - clsound.netHosted by: Daniel Jester - danieltjester.com
The Philosophy and Ethics of Retouching with Mercedes Castaneda of Fabletics Men
Mar 29 2022
The Philosophy and Ethics of Retouching with Mercedes Castaneda of Fabletics Men
SummaryHow much photoshop is too much? At one point does image retouching become dishonest or unethical? These questions in similar form have been around, since even well before digital took over photography. In todays world it can be hard to have a conversation on this topic that includes the kind of nuance required to really understand where the line is. Mercedes Castaneda joins Daniel for this episode and they do their best to deliver nuance and thoughtfulness in a roughly 30 minute episode. Key TakeawaysThere has been a persistent and passionate conversation about retouching in media and what it does to our senses. While it's hard to have a nuanced conversation about it sometimes, the answer isn't always the same, context is important. Mercedes' rule of thumb is "Is this thing temporary?" A temporary skin blemish, and out of place hair, these are temporary and become distractions in a still image. Consent plays a roll in how much change occurs in post, and what types of changes occur. When talking about celebrities, they may have a lot of control over the retouching and in some cases push for some extensive changes. Even if you want to present a natural beauty in your photography, there are many reasons why an image still needs to be retouched. There are technical limitations to what a camera can see or what it shows us, that needs to be corrected in post because of how can impact perception. Production constraints can also lead to an image requiring more post. A studio shooting a whole bunch of eye shadow colors, but only book 2 models and not every color may work. In this case you may want to adjust skin tones or eye colors to coordinate better with the product. One good rule of thumb may be "can you explain why you changed this?" If you can answer it, you're probably in the clear. Working with intention most likely means you will avoid being guilty of over-manipulation. ResourcesMercedes Castaneda on LinkedInHenry Stewart Photo Studio Ops New YorkFLOW New York - PixelzCreditsProduced by: Creative Force - creativeforce.ioEdited by: Calvin Lanz Sound - clsound.netHosted by: Daniel Jester - danieltjester.com