Square Constructs Robot That Can Operate a Camera, Begin Offering Product Photography for $10

Square is launching its own photo studio, utilizing a new mechanical robot that can work a camera, in order to offer cheap but professional product photography for as little as $10 per shoot.

For many start-ups, sourcing quality images of their stock can be a huge financial setback, but Square is aiming to make good product photography a more attainable goal. The process begins when a business ships their product to Square’s photo studio, before choosing their photo package. The options include a pack of three high-resolution, multi-angle photos for just $9.95, or an interactive 360 photo – something becoming increasingly popular for online retailers - for a reasonable $29.95.

After the product has been photographed, it’s sent back to the business owner, and the images will be made available to them within 14 days. Square are also offering discounted rates when orders of over 30 products are requested, which is likely to entice larger, chain retailers.

Square said:

We use a cutting-edge robotic camera to shoot your product from multiple angles. Then our eCommerce experts identify the best product shots to maximize your online sales.

Special requests are also available, such as drawing attention to specific aspects of your product, or having the photo taken from a certain angle. The only noted restrictions are that products need to be “84 inches in combined length and girth—meaning the length of the longest side plus the distance around the thickest part of your object can’t exceed 84 inches,” and a maximum weight of 20 pounds.

PetaPixel also reports:

The resulting images are the property of the Square Photo Studio, but come with a “perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide copyright license to use the images for any use” as long as that use doesn’t violate Square’s Terms of Service or the specific Photo Studio terms they’ve drafted.

Check out the video to see more.

What does this mean for the future of product photography?

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17 Comments

Logan Cressler's picture

Soooo.... Who owns the copyright? :D

Ivan Lantsov's picture

Inglish not good, so you send product and pay 10 for 3 photo, who pay return post to you
gues I no need camera!

michaeljin's picture

Stuff like this is the death of formulaic photography. If you're just running on the hamster wheel doing the same shots over and over again, you're going to get squeezed out. The only way to survive is to consistently bring something that AI and robotics cannot imitate. Right now it's still easy as these technologies are limited, but it's going to get harder and harder as they become more advanced so better start expanding your skills now to stay ahead of the curve. :P

Logan Cressler's picture

I would say the primary advantage a human photographer has, is being human, talking in person, being fair and working with the client directly, adding in their own creativity and expertise to make a much better photo than they could have ever come up with on their own. It will be some time before that can be replaced with AI.

I will also add in that I believe that photography is a dying career choice, the amount of time before it is completely dead is indetermined so far though. It will always be an art form, but I am not sure how much longer it will be a commercial product.

michaeljin's picture

Given enough time, technology has the potential to render every career obsolete. It's an interesting to question to ask what we're all going to do when nobody needs to work anymore.

Logan Cressler's picture

Pornhub will likely be VERY busy.

And will need a lot of non-robot actors...

Logan Cressler's picture

Nah the first human like robots will be employed in the porn business, porn or war, the two big moneymakers.

David Justice's picture

Exactly. The lower to lower-middle of photography jobs are going away because of phones and LED lights that are cheap and easy enough to use.

Just don’t be lower to lower-middle talent. If you’re not that good, don’t expect to get paid or make a career out of it.

That’s the world we live in now and we need to go with the times instead of trying to push back against an inevitable force.

Meet your New Photographer!

Simon Patterson's picture

Photographing those kinds of products looks like a soul destroying job for a person. The robots can have the job as far as I'm concerned.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Yes - my clients can bring their items to the studio, discuss their exact needs and I can match to previous shots.

Some clients stay whilst I shoot - doesn't add too much to the time and it guarantees they are happy with a tethered laptop to view.

There are often fine details to shooting against pure white - a flag here, a reflector there... great e-commerce photography is not the same as plonking something in front of an autobot. I can shoot a white bottle against a 100% white with NO cutouts or comp work, and not get any awkward reflections or glare, even at the base - viewed at 100% Not sure an autobot can do this.

Turnaround speed is quicker and there is a personalised service with a real photographer. Not everyone wants cheap cheap cheap... those people just buy a light tent and an iPhone.

I'm mixed on this: I think it's a good idea and I'd rather see good photos on small business websites than bad ones. But it's one more stake in the financial heart of photographers who do tabletop product shots.

dale clark's picture

This type of photography is similar to mundane assembly line work in factories. Robots have replaced humans for years in manufacturing. When you look at sites like Amazon, etc...The product photos are all the same basically. So why not automate the process? Automated people shots have been around a couple years https://styleshoots.com/live

Rob Mitchell's picture

Not quite worked this out yet.
So I have to send the truckload of products I want shot, to them?
They carefully unpack everything, check it, dress it and shoot it exactly how I want before carefully packing up all the stuff into the original boxes and resend back to me?

Or, I just hire someone to come to the warehouse and shoot everything as I want.

I'm thinking that the 2nd option would actually be more efficient and cheaper in the long run.
What am I saying, 'thinking' I know is is cheaper, I do it.

Rod Kestel's picture

If all this works, robots will take the orders, pack and ship the products to customers. Who are also robots.

Ryan Cooper's picture

I'd assume this thing is still pretty limited. Likely just big flat lighting on a solid background. Product photogs who creatively layer multiple exposures to craft the perfect highlights to showcase the product are still going to leave this service in the dust, quality-wise. But if all you are capable of doing is making a flat, clean shot then prepare for machines to replace you.