Case Study: Textile Photography for Cromwell Leather Group

Six days with the smell of leather pervading the studio, Matt Witherspoon and our retouching team delivered 213 fantastic photos of genuine leather and bonded leather to the Cromwell Leather Group for their new website.

Photographing Leather Isn’t Easy.

It is January of 2021, and Cromwell Leather faces a need to redesign its website and the need to reach new clients around the nation. The digital presence of Cromwell Leather is the central focus of all new marketing efforts moving forward. To make it a reality, they need fresh photography to elevate their designs and compete while COVID-19 keeps customers at a distance. Kaitlin Loper, Margaret Zulkowsky, and Peter Sieminski, of Cromwell are leading a search for talented photographers.

They want their new images to look elegant and offer customers a visual experience of their high-quality materials. Cromwell has both genuine leather and bonded leather products, and every variation possesses a unique texture that must be captured in the new photos.

Photographing finely detailed leathers isn’t easy, and Kaitlin’s and Peters’s past experiences prove that. Many photographers struggle to capture the “feel” of textiles in a still image and Cromwells old library of photographs lacks definition and color accuracy. Photographing something this particular requires a creative eye paired with technical knowledge of lighting and focal depths. 

With COVID-19 limiting the possibility of a photoshoot in person and the niche skills required to photograph textiles properly, Kaitlin opens the search up nationwide. After some searching around online, she finds OMS Photo’s textile page and decides to reach out.

The Photography Test

Nancy Armstrong, our producer, quickly responds to Kaitlin and begins discussing the details of their project. Nancy recommends our photographer Matt Witherspoon based on his years of experience with clothing and textiles. Katilin and Peter need to know Matt will be worth every dollar of the investment as they’ve had lackluster results in the past. Kaitlin asks Matt to do a test shoot with samples she will send to OMS shortly. However, he’s not the only one, three other photographers around the nation will also be receiving samples.

Matt happily agrees to the challenge and spends a day in the studio figuring out the perfect lighting and understanding the nuanced needs of the genuine and bonded leather.

When the results are sent to Kaitlin, Peter, and Margaret, Matt soon became the clear winner!

… It wasn’t only the dimension and the tones of the photos. It was also the elegance and the beauty of the material Matt captured that we wanted to show through the photos. And I feel that it was done very, very nicely.

Peter Sieminski, Global Sales Manager
Cromwell Leather Group

213 Photos of Detailed Genuine and Bonded Leathers

Cromwell needs their entire catalog photographed for this project. High-volume textile photography is rewarding but challenging, as it requires consistency across a variety of textures and colors.  The shot list of products includes a finely detailed shot with a wave in the material to demonstrate “feel” and a flat-down shot to illustrate accurate color. In addition, there are a handful of beautiful sample books and bonded leather rolls to photograph for website banners and more.

It is now June of 2021 and Matt spends three days in the studio with the clients participating remotely via Zoom. Plus, three days with photo assistant, Marci Rhodes, capturing flat shots with a color-checker for retouchers to ensure color accuracy.

Each leather and bonded leather variety requires lighting and focus adjustments to capture all details and elegance. It makes for a rewarding experience when it’s done right. Especially when a few white and glossy bonded leathers felt, as Matt said, “like photographing a polar bear in a snowstorm.” Overall, the years of lighting experience Matt possesses proved necessary for the photographs to be just right before handing them off to the digital team.

Each image is touched up by our retouchers and receives basic clean-up adjustments to color, lighting, and textures. Margaret, having the most experience with the products, handled the review and offered input on color accuracy and lighting. The retouching team was responsive and found it fun to work on this project.

Photoshoots Still Work Remotely

Despite the inherent limitations of remote photoshoots, the experience proved to be great for this project. Unlike traveling to a location shoot where all gear is limited to what the photographer thinks is needed, in this case, Matt can use the resources of our entire studio. Having one extra light or modifier makes a difference. From the client’s perspective, they could check in throughout the day and not lose time on travel or the distractions of the photoshoot. Small businesses often ask employees to wear various hats every day. Peter and Kaitlin couldn’t have afforded taking three full days to be in the studio with Matt. Screensharing via Zoom is a great way to give Small businesses access to studios like OMS and still fit in their tight schedules. Of course, a hands-on experience can help progress a photoshoot a little faster, but remote shooting during COVID has proved invaluable for many of OMS Photo’s clients.

Website Photography that Works

After the finals were prepared and delivered, the photos moved the new website project into a new phase of development. By December of 2021, Cromwell launched the new website! Not only do the images add a whole new level of engagement to the website, but they also are proving to be a fantastic sales tool. Before receiving a sample, every client can receive photo samples of the genuine leather or bonded leathers they are interested in. Peter and Kaitlin love the new sales flow they are developing and feel confident in the photos they are sharing.

“I thought the whole thing was fun. We were so worried about how our material would photograph because it was so difficult in the past, and no one really could ever do it. Then as we were seeing the photos come to life, we were saying, “oh, that’s perfect! That looks great!”

Kaitlin Loper, Sales and Customer Support Associate
Cromwell Leather Group

Matt and the team at OMS are thrilled the project has worked out so well for the kind people at Cromwell. We hope to work with them again on their next marketing campaigns.

Are you interested in hiring OMS Photo for your next project? 

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