The Robotic Studio That's Poised to Replace Photographers

Technology has been responsible for some of the greatest advancements in human history, but is it poised to take your job? If you photograph fashion for catalogs or online retailers, the new robotic studio launched by StyleShoots might do just that.

StyleShoots Live is essentially a complete studio space in miniature that features built-in lighting in the form of high-CRI LED panels, a customizable backdrop and floor, a Canon 1DX Mark II to capture both stills and video, and a depth sensor. All that is required to complete a photo shoot for a fashion catalog is a stylist who can also control the Live studio via an included 12.9-inch iPad, and a model. To top things off, Live will even output color matched photos and video in formats suitable for everything from social media to online retailers automatically, as well as pieced together video clips in styles specified by the user. No need for you to step in, silly photographer.

This sounds like a godsend for companies looking to keep their production costs low, say, minus the cost of a photographer and lighting crew, but it might not be such good news for photographers looking to pay their mortgages. If you want to purchase this robotic studio to keep up with changing times, you'll have to get a quote directly from StyleShoots, or commit to a two-year lease.

Should photographers feel threatened by this new piece of tech, or is this just another flash-in-the-pan?

[via StyleShoots]

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Felix Wu's picture

No. These manufacturers will struggle to survive due to the machine's restrictions in space and creativity.

Mike Gillin's picture

I don't see this as a risk to fashion photographers, however, I do see this as something that could replace, or change, the Target/Sears photo studio.

Darren Whitley's picture

I agree. A department store could easily sell it as an experience. Or... they could use it as a dressing room enhancement. Try the clothes on and then have your picture taken to properly consider whether to buy the clothing. Or if priced right and scaled properly, a small business could photograph their own products.

Nicole York's picture

That's a good point, Mike! Probably without any difference in quality.

user 65983's picture

I guess you're right. Photo booths haven't replaced photographers.

Benjamin Hüttinger's picture

If you call yourself photographer and can't compete with a fancy photobooth, than you are afraid for your job for a good reason. Everyone else won't have to worry.

Trevor Schneider's picture

A machine can be setup for lighting, automate tasks and made to click a button, sure. You cannot replicate a personality or creative vision that you pay for by hiring a professional.

Patrick Hall's picture

Well to be fair, couldn't the stylist learn to direct the same way a photographer does?

Nicole York's picture

You can't replicate personality, thats for sure, but for a lot of online retailers who just want clean shots of their product, that creativity and vision isn't as necessary.

David Vaughn's picture

Don't they usually have an intern taking those shots anyways?

Nicole York's picture

I know a few in-house photographers with that specific job

Ben W's picture

would be useful for a lot of apparel startups / boutiques for catalog and website shots. now to see if the $ per session or whatever payment model makes the business case

Alexander Petrenko's picture

It is 35K piece of equipment. Only leasing it may help someone small...

Spy Black's picture

The photographic equivalent of self-driving cars and trucks. Don't believe that this doesn't have the potential to cut out a lot of production gigs. A good chunk of bread and butter work will be taken away with stuff like this, and it won't surprise me if this type of technology evolves and expands.

An alternative I've now seen is not using pros. I freelance in one in-house studio where they're setting up "shooting stations" where non-photographers can shoot certain items. I can easily see either this studio or any others like it investing in stuff like this if the up-front price is right. It all comes down to money, and just like self-driving cars are really designed to replace professional drivers (think Über), stuff like this has the potential to replace professional photographers.

Leigh Smith's picture

Comparing to self driving cars to this is totally inaccurate. Driving takes no creative vision or personality. Photography is more than clicking a button.

Bill Bentley's picture

Maybe so Leigh, but a job lost, is a job lost, either way.

Spy Black's picture

Considering there are non-photographers "clickng a button" already, I beleive you're in for a very rude awakening.

Anonymous's picture

Just like with MP3s, people may be willing to sacrifice quality for convenience. After a while, with nothing to compare it to, they'll never know they gave up quality.

Edward Porter's picture

Sorry to burst your bubble Patrick, but besides 128kbps mp3s, virtually nobody can tell the difference between lossless and mp3:

Anonymous's picture

My point was not about the qualitative differences regarding between compressed and lossless codecs. It was, and remains, that people are willing to accept a loss in quality for an increase in convenience. My bubble is intact. No need to be sorry! :-)

That being said, I don't think "We Built this City" was a very good sample for this kind of test. Perhaps something by Bach or Mozart would have been better. :-/

John Ohle's picture

We have this already, think of a passport booth. I can see it been used for cheep, high tunover catalogs such as, in Europe, the likes of fashion for Aldi and Lidl. So yes, it will eat into some markets but it will not replace photographers - yet!

Bryan York's picture

Well written Nicole! I think I agree with most of these comments that it will immediately take the place of photographer's but over time and as things get better I could see the possibility. It's not just photographers it could possibly replace in the future but what about retouchers? How could it effect them?

Nicole York's picture

I don't think this particular advancement will affect retouchers, but it definitely leads toward the automated market, which may affect them eventually (think of something like Portrait Pro.)

Hans Rosemond's picture

Oh, there's definitely a market for this. Now, a smart photographer who specializes in catalogue work could lease/buy this, put it in their studio, and offer it as a low-cost option to start-ups who are low on capital. Keep the money in their studio, then offer higher cost options when those automatic shoots don't go so well. Either way, the money stays in the business.

Spy Black's picture

...until the cat gets out of the bag...

Nicole York's picture

That's exactly where my mind was at when I saw this. Of course, they'll have to be doing a enough work to justify the cost, but its a short jump for large companies to buy this to use in-house instead of a photographer.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Meh. Could be just one of those things that's expected. Like self-checkout lanes in a supermarket. Haha

Blake Weber's picture

Because all a photographer does is stand in one spot push the shutter button again and again.

benpearse's picture

C'mon guys this just an article for social impact and media traction....ohh whoops it worked, lol

Isaac Alvarez's picture

Great idea but I think you still need the photographer/director cause they have the eye for that creative department. I would love to see what a model and a stylist can come up with lol.