FLOW: New York Rewind
We kicked off 2024 with our very first 2-day FLOW event in Los Angeles. A new year of FLOW events led us to the theme: Fresh Perspectives on E-commerce Content Creation. This included bringing in speakers from different countries, different backgrounds, and different career paths within the industry.

On Day 1, we ran multiple workshops, hoping to give attendees practical skills and knowledge to apply in their own work. There were sessions on Generative AI and Midjourney, creating transparent and inclusive workspaces, a hackathon for studio challenges, and producing elevated content that converts.

Day 2 followed our regular FLOW format, with keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and loads of networking time.

We were able to bring this 2-day event together with help from our partners: Profoto, Creative Force, and SpinMe.

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

The Power of Image in E-commerce

The day kicked off with Carlos Leon, Photography Manager at Mango. He brought his European perspective to e-commerce imagery and opened up the conversation with the audience on the differences between imagery in North America and Europe.

Here are just a few of the differences mentioned by the audience included:

  • Better examples of size inclusivity in North America
  • More editorial/artistic images in Europe
  • Europe is focused on the brand and beautiful images and less focused on the product
  • America is more commercial, playful, and smiling

Despite the differences in imagery and aesthetics, Carlos says that brands shouldn’t change to fit the market. Focus on providing cohesive and coherent brand stories across all the different platforms - this even includes UGC and social.

Transforming The Studio Into A Content Creation Hub

Is your studio siloed off from the rest of your company's operations? Bimi Ibok, Studio Director at Nogin, asked this question to the audience, albeit with a much more eloquent metaphor. She then walked us through how her studio has pushed the boundaries of what a studio is and how it can become a strategic partner - not just a tactical partner. How does that happen? Here is Bimi’s process:

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:

  • Diversify studio skill sets
    • Increase both operational and creative skills.
  • Invest in the right technology
    • Explore solutions and identify what fits for you and your studio.
  • Cultivate community
    • BTS or in-studio UGC experiences can flex creative muscles and invite customers into the brand.

An American Portrait: Reshaping Perceptions Using AI

We started our back-to-back sessions on AI with Marcellus Neel, Amazon's Global Creative Director. Marcellus explored how much of the American experience is depicted in a very narrow spectrum. We often only see examples of the New York, LA, or New England American aesthetic. Marcellus walked us through his project, Yearling Heights. He has leveraged AI to not only tell a complete story but also build a world.

Here are some of his tips for using generative AI to tell your own story:

  • Edit generative AI images as you would any image
  • Add grain for more realistic images
  • It can take many iterations to get one image - just like a photoshoot
  • Use ChatGPT to develop character names and captions

AI and Human Creativity: Making the Machine Work For You

Continuing our look at AI, Nathan McDowell, Lead Photographer at NATTYMACMEDIA took over the stage. As Nathan says, Generative AI is a tool that we can learn to work with rather than against. It can speed up your work and ideation process. It can be used to create campaign briefs and becomes your proof of concept.

He also covered some of the latest updates that are making creating AI images more cohesive and realistic. SREF, allows you to use images as a reference, and CREF, allows you to reference an AI character that has already been created to create consistent images in AI.

How To Strategically Incorporate Video Into Your Production Flow

Muriel Schneider, Senior Art Director, brought her video expertise to the stage. She broke down different categories of video:

  • PDP Video:
    • This includes editorial and standard product videos. Their purpose is to set the mood and show the product in motion.
  • Narrative Video:
    • A narrative video could have a voice-over and a storyline. It often has a much higher budget, typically used for ads and then repurposed for social.
  • Social Video:
    • The best way to meet your customers where they already are - on social media. Social video allows for a lot more freedom and fun. It can be created by piggybacking off existing photoshoots.

Besides discussing different types of video (and sharing examples), Muriel also had advice on how to start incorporating video:

  • Have a clear direction
  • Align on budget
  • Make something that resonates
  • Don’t be afraid of a few constraints - some of the best ideas come from being limited

Crafting Your Tech Strategy

From the creative strategy of video, we moved on to the tech strategy with Sebastien Eskenazi, R&D Leader at Pixelz. He kicked off his session walking through how AI is used in post-production - with a reminder that all this technology isn’t exactly new. The AI we use at Pixelz for symmetrization is based on AI that was designed around 40 years ago. Sometimes, we don’t need to invent anything new; we just need to understand how to use it.

When it comes to leveraging technology, Sebastien advises internally assessing your existing tools, surveying the market for new tools, and training your staff before testing out new tools. And when it comes to partnering with a technology company, never be afraid of giving them challenges. They just might be able to come up with a solution for your challenge.