Design! It is worth reflecting back to the film world and thinking about how small a role design played in photography. Whether you were a consumer shooting your pictures or a pro-photographer your choices were what film to use, what kind of paper to print on and what size. At best pictures got displayed in albums or portfolios.
With the advent of Digital Photography all this changed. Back in 2000 when I worked at Shutterfly, the company came up with borders and effects for prints. Consumers could go on Shutterfly.com and apply simple borders, effects etc to 4×6/5×7 prints. This to the best of my knowledge was the first time I think the industry saw design play a significant role in how pictures were “rendered”. The borders and effects that Shutterfly offered became a killer feature when the company started offering greeting cards (a grand tradition during the Christmas/New Years in the west is to send greeting cards with a picture of the family or company during the Holidays). The variety of borders, messages etc that could be used to customize the cards took the quality of the Greeting Cards to another level. The same easily extended to Calendars and Photobooks. No company in the photography space today can ignore the importance of design in customizing print products.
At Canvera we see a wide variety of designs required to service the Indian consumer. Since more than 60% of our Photobook business comes from weddings, I have had the opportunity in the last 3+ years to learn more about the aesthetic sensibilities of nearly every part of the country than I ever did growing up. Today Canvera’s design services team is one of the largest groups in the company and is doing some very innovative work to capture customer requirements and deliver something that is both aesthetically pleasing and can be turned around in a timely fashion. This is no easy task and we have made our share of mistakes and have a lot to improve on. But never before have I been as excited about the value the design services team is delivering to the marketplace. In addition to our internal design team we work very closely with a number of designers all over the country who know the requirements of our systems. It is interesting to see how Digital Photography has quite literally spawned a new class of designers that did not exist until 5 years ago.
This is obviously not restricted to design of printed products such as Photobooks. In the professional market in particular Pros engage the services of designers to design their websites and micro-sites as well. This too has now become a critical requirement for the industry. Just as in the case of Photobooks where we provide templates through our software and custom design services to our high volume Pro clients, the Canvera Vivyo platform for websites will bring this two pronged approach to delivering great websites. More on this as we work to get Vivyo out of our closed beta program.
Needless to say, at Canvera we are very excited to be doing some very core R&D work both on the services and software front with the goal of delivering great design services either through our internal team or through a network of freelance designers. If you are a freelance designer and want to learn more about how you can offer services to the photography industry, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org