This production company is trying to democratize content creation

For many small businesses, quality photography and styling have long been out of reach. The overhead of such expenses (booking a studio, stylist, photographer, or videographer) is often just not something that newbie entrepreneurs can sway. This barrier to entry is a reality that has never quite been Elizabeth giorgi, who started his own video production company in Minneapolis six years ago and routinely turned down smaller-scale clients who couldn’t afford his rates. So in 2019, she co-founded Soona, a ‘quickly laid back’ content studio that allows users to ship items – whether candles, cosmetics, or pillows – to their studio for have them professionally photographed and styled for just $ 39 per photo. or $ 93 for a video clip.

Customers can join Soona’s virtual shoots online in real time and provide feedback.

“Social media is the modern equivalent of a great business card,” says Giorgi. “Great photos and videos can improve a business’s success and make a big impression on consumers. Our goal is to make these assets as easy and affordable as possible. »Giorgi and his co-founder, veteran colleague of media production Hayley anderson, see Soona as a way to democratize content creation.

All photographers at the company’s studios in Minneapolis and Denver (an Austin, TX location arriving this fall) are trained in styling and art direction, but users can hire the services of professional stylists for a fee. . “The à la carte nature of our services allows the user to pay for what he wants and not having to pay for an entire production if it is not what he needs,” explains Giorgi. This choice-your-own-adventure mentality carries over to the style of filming as well. Customers can currently choose between options such as flatlay, where products are shot in aerial thumbnails; lifestyle, where products are seen in real contexts; and e-commerce style photos, where products are shot against plain backgrounds. Lifestyle pictures are Soona’s most popular, which Giorgi attributes to being the most difficult to perform on your own.

Soona’s current customer base ranges from food and beauty to home decor and gardening (one notable customer is plant retailer Bloomscape). “The space at home has been very good for us so far,” says Giorgi.

A product photo by Soona

A product photo by SoonaCourtesy of Soona

In addition to virtual services, Soona offers in-person services in its studios. Before the coronavirus hit, around 70% of its clients chose to come to the studio; in the past four months, that number has completely shifted, with 80% of customers now going virtual. Virtual shoots begin with an online questionnaire about the user’s product and shoot requests, such as prop preferences and background colors. On shoot day, clients can log in to view footage as it’s taken and uploaded in real time and chat with the crew, expressing their opinions as the shoot progresses. The user receives the photos within 24 hours and has the option of purchasing the raw file.

While the pandemic hampered Soona’s immediate plans to open in more cities after Austin, the brand has expanded its reach in another major way: by partnering with the Shopify e-commerce platform. “Towards the end of 2019, we asked a lot of our customers where they were using these photos and the response we heard over and over again was ‘Shopify’,” says Giorgi. They’ve made contact with the company and now offer direct integration with Shopify sites, so if Soona takes a new photo of your product, it can be automatically updated on your brand’s page.

Giorgi knows that the Instagram-ification of retail has left many businesses struggling to compete and produce network-worthy content on a consistent basis. “It may sound intimidating and overwhelming, but we hope Soona can be an invitation to show off your inventions and dream a little bigger,” she says. “And, of course, sell more products.”

Front page photo: Elizabeth Giorgi in one of Soona’s studios | Photo courtesy of Soona


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Jenny T. Curlee