FLOW: New York Rewind

Passion and Purpose at FLOW: London

To end the year, we took FLOW to London for the first time. We knew we had to show up big since it had taken us so long to finally make it to London. Our theme for the day was Passion and Purpose, putting at the forefront the topics that our speakers were most passionate about. Moreso than ever, we were left with some deep insights and inspiration to take back to our everyday work.

We also were honored to have our partners with us to add to the day, including Let’s Flo, Creative Force, Profoto, and SpinMe.

If you’re interested in attending a FLOW event in the future, view our upcoming events here.

From Theory To Practice: Making Generative AI Work In Your Studio

Our opening keynote was from Nathan McDowell, who took us through his own workflow using generative AI. By walking us through his process, we learned how Gen AI can be used to help create social media content, be used to create mood boards, or as a pose guide for models.

Here are our key takeaways from Nathan:

  • Creating briefs with Gen AI can make it easier to sell your vision to your teams and speed up your shoot. Gen AI content can also be the mood board for stylists or a posing guide for models.
  • Approach creating Gen AI content as a chef in a test kitchen. Your ideas are the ingredients and the prompt is the recipe. You’ll need to keep testing and tweaking the recipe to get to your final output.
  • Nathan’s advice for getting into Gen AI: Be curious, be persistent—nerd out on it.

Generative AI And IP Rights – A Media Lawyer's Perspective

Following up on Nathan’s keynote about using Gen AI in content creation workflows, we were joined Kelsey Farish a Media Lawyer from DAC Beachcroft LLP. She was able to shed some much-needed light on laws surrounding Gen AI content. The answer to many questions is ‘it depends’ at the moment as this is still a new area. But Kelsey did have some helpful tips for everyone:

We’ve been here before with photography and currently everyone is still trying to figure out IP rights and AI. In the meantime, here are some steps to take:

  • Information gather and educate yourself.
  • Look into Practical Protections like watermarks and metadata and revisit your contracts.
  • Talk to the experts - lawyers.

How To Achieve Creative Alignment With Global Studio Teams

For our fireside chat, we were joined by Fatima Ianno, Head of E-commerce Creative at Farfetch and Kevin Boutwell, Senior Customer Success Manager at Pixelz. They had an open chat about what it takes to align studios across the globe. A very big takeaway from this session was Fatima’s belief in regular site walks to catch issues early and help create consistency across the studios.

Here are a few other key takeaways from this fireside chat:

  • Simply put - creative alignment is ensuring that everyone understands the shared vision. Foundation and framework are key so the creative vision isn’t interpreted differently.
  • What are the steps to gaining this creative alignment?
    • Share seasonal trend reports and conduct sidewalks.
    • Quality. Do you have feedback in place?
    • Consistent visual output through training and onboarding.

Generative AI

Breaking Down Gatekeeping In The GenZ Era Of Content Creation

Up next was Kevin Mason, Founder at Studio Workflow to take us into the world of GenZ and what we can learn from the TikTok generation. This wasn’t a session dedicated to how to use TikTok but rather what we can learn from it. Tiktok is allowing smaller voices to be amplified, narratives are not easily controlled and gatekeeping is highly frowned upon.

Here are our key takeaways:

  • GenZers are the true digital natives. An incredibly diverse group that is focused on change (even if it is unconscious).
  • Anti-Gatekeeping is having its moment on TikTok. People openly talk about bad bosses, day rates, and their experiences on sets.
  • What can we learn from TikTok? Allow space for different voices and responses; people love to learn, and transparency and trust are vital.

Building In-House Studio From Scratch

What goes into creating a studio from zero? Morgan Williams, Photography Studio Manager from Fenwick, did just that recently and walked us through her process and what she learned along the way. For Morgan, building an in-house studio meant stronger cohesive control over content and a reduction of cost. Whatever your reason for going in-house with your studio here are Morgan’s tips:

  • Moving In-house can improve time to the site, gain more control over visuals, and support the business with marketing campaigns or website visuals.
  • The different areas to analyze when considering moving a studio in-house include: creative, equipment, team, and space.
  • Creative: Understand your vision and your tone of voice.
  • Equipment: Start with equipment that's common and easy to use or easy to adapt to.
  • Team: Understand your volume and build the team out from there.
  • Space: Location matters; will you be able to get the talent you need?

Navigating Content Creation In The Photo Studio: Finding Your Perfect Method

After learning about building the perfect physical space for your studio, we moved on to finding the perfect method for content creation with Emily Morris, Studio Operations Manager at Sainsbury. Through her experiences in various major brands in the industry, Emily has formulated the steps to take to ensure you are creating content in an approach that fits your brand and studio. One of the highlights from this is session was Emily pointing out that everyone needs to understand how you and your brand balance operational and creative excellence.

Here is a quick breakdown of Emily’s method:

How to find your perfect method that is authentic and aligns with your studio:

  • Identify: Understand how your studio or brand prioritizes operational and creative excellence.
  • Implement: Communicate with your team and get them engaged and excited. Define your expectations with shoot and style guides.
  • Improve: Continuously improve and stay current with SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).

Video First Mindset

Peter Davies joined us for the first time in New York in 2022 and we were so lucky to have him back in London to talk about a video-first mindset. He opened up the session with an example of how video can build a narrative quickly and effectively over stills. He went on to provide some examples of how video could work in different ways for e-commerce.

Here are a few of his key takeaways:

  • Peter poses the question: is it time to abandon stills and turn to video - or is video only to delight and entertain and not specifically sell?
  • Keep testing and keep trying - the customer will guide you.
  • Be adaptable and quick to react.
  • The choice between video and stills depends on your specific goals and audience. The best approach often combines both.

Generative AI

Evolving With AI: Lessons Learned From AI-Powered Growth

To end the day, we were joined by Janus Klok Matthesen, CTO at Pixelz. As a co-founder of Pixelz, Janus is in a unique position to share about the growth of Pixelz from days of no AI use to utilizing AI to scale and grow. He shared how to approach integrating AI technology and how to stay up to date with the ever-changing landscape of AI.

Here are a few of his takeaways:

  • Finding the right problem is important to understand where you can apply AI or any tech as a solution.
  • Communication is key. AI is used along side humans and the people using the automation need to understand why and how the AI is implemented.
  • Take a break - keeping up with technology doesn’t have to happen every day. Rely on trusted resources and your community to bring you up to date.

In Closing

FLOW: London really brought the passion from GenAI to GenZ. The speakers brought their best to the stage and shared from their own experiences in the industry. It was the perfect way to end a year full of FLOW events. We’ve got some things in the work for 2024 so stay tuned for all the details.