Give Aaron Johnson the chance to give you his elevator pitch and he just might convince you that you need a tabletop photo studio.
But even if you accept his points, you probably don’t have studio know-how or the room for the lights, the tripod, backdrops and a ladder.
Johnson answers with the SHOTBOX, a collapsable tabletop studio with seamless diffused lighting with a setup that can have you camera-ready in seconds. The SHOTBOX is designed for iPhone and other smartphone users who want to make simple product pictures, digitize family photos and copy documents.
Johnson is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to bring the SHOTBOX to production. Early backers can get the hour-glass shaped studio for $99 (projected retail will be $149).
The iPhone and other smartphone cameras have greatly reduced technical barriers to photography, and humanity shoots billions of photos every day. Even if you do not make a living shooting products for catalogs or advertising, there are millions who sell on eBay (6.7 according to one eCommerce statistic) and CraigsList. Quality photography often makes the sale.
Like the iPhone did for portraits and candid photography, Johnson wants the ShotBox to provide near-perfect studio conditions without the need for a photographic education.
Open up the SHOTBOX, plug it in and two LED light panels combined with the ribbed inner walls provides diffused and balanced light. The hourglass shape directs the light to prevent shadows and openings in the top of the box allow for a variety of angles for shooting overhead. An adjustable platform for your smartphone can be mounted to the front of the box for shooting 3D objects.
There is also a dimmer switch for the LED lights and the company is working on a mount for DSLR cameras.
“A photographer has a closet or studio full of pieces and it can be painful to setup,” Johnson told Cult of Mac. “There’s a need for self-containment, something simple, fast and plug it in. The cameras on our phones are awesome and they can do things never done before. I am replacing a scanner, I can go head-to-head with most functions on a scanner.”
Johnson lives in a part of the United States with an instant market for SHOTBOX. He lives in Utah, where documenting family history is part of the culture of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints.
Johnson is one of the inventors of the Cricut machine, an electronic paper cutting machine for scrapbookers and DIY crafters produced and marketed by Provo Craft.
More and more, Scrapbookers want to create digital backups and find that the standard scrapbook page of 12 x 12 does not fit most consumer scanners.
Johnson and his team of engineers created the SHOTBOX 16 inches high and 15.5 inches wide so that the average scrapbook page falls well within the viewfinder without unwanted cropping.
“The memory is the most important thing to us,” he said. “The joke is if your house is burning down, you grab your kids, then you get the photos and scrapbooks – then you get your husband.”
There is another problem Johnson is trying to solve with a supporting app. He wants people to copy their photo album pages without taking the photos out of the sheet protectors. To remove the plastic protector, especially after years, could risk tears to the photos.
The light causes glare problems so Johnson wants to create an app that eliminates it by merging two photos made from different openings in the SHOTBOX.