August 20, 2017

To achieve high-quality photography of products that’s both affordable and without the drama, Photographers Erika Dufour and Renee Gooch co-founded Snip Snap Go

Photographers Erika Dufour and Renee Gooch are making professional-grade product photography more accessible and affordable for the small-to-mid-size business owner by offering their recently launched DIY system Snip Snap Go. Here, they share their story on how this invention was realized, where they want to take it and how it applies to the desire of driving traction to an idea.

What is Snip Snap Go?

Erika: Snip Snap Go makes it easy for you to take professional and affordable photos. We provide a ready-to-go photo studio and you take the photo! It’s a perfect solution for those in need of professional photos of product or people shots—in a flash. All the elements are in place, tested and on: lighting, computer, camera, tripod, software and sweep. We also are on site to help solve rigging problems as well as adjusting the lighting if its not working. We have found that people learn a lot about photography and lighting when they are shooting, which is an awesome unexpected bonus.

Here’s a video showing you how Snip Snap Go works!

Appreciate how you arrived at the idea of your photography system. It’s an epiphany: you experienced the issues of a photo shoot with a client; so you went ahead and made a solution. Similar to Chicago-based Basecamp not finding a web-based project management tool that fit their needs—therefore, making their own. All done without asking permission. Just picking yourself. As you were “mulling over and over,” how did you capture your idea and visualize it? And how did you hone in on the condition of lighting, that this is the constant?

Erika: I thought about how people were shooting their own photos for their website, which were goodish, but not great, and knowing that the main thing missing was the lighting.

I also thought about how to make photo shoots more affordable to smaller companies, but also how do I not exercise too much energy on a photo shoot for people who can’t afford regular rates, a.k.a. How do we all get what we need? What was the commonality of smaller shoots that I had for startup/small companies—what did they need? Most shoots were shots of companies inventory, a.k.a. basic product shots.

I then thought that the lighting and camera settings rarely change for simple product shoots, and for a photographer, it’s a very mundane shoot, without much photo knowledge needed after everything is set-up. On a lot of shoots that I have done in the past with regular clients, sometimes the clients snap the photo from the computer on their own if they know the command key.

With all of those elements together, along with thinking outside the box, created the lightbulb moment of Snip Snap Go.

Two heads—and hearts—are better than one. How did you connect as co-founders? What makes your working together actually work?

Erika: We were meeting to talk about the photo industry in general and talking about how the business is changing. We have actually known each other for about 14 years through a mutual friend, and we had always exchanged thoughts about the industry throughout the years. Renee had several ideas on different types of photo services, and I kept thinking that the services that Renee was presenting could be linked to Snip Snap Go, and I knew that I needed a partner, so I asked her if she was interested in working with me on Snip Snap Go and she very enthusiastically said, “YES.”

Renee: Erika and I have known each other for years. Earlier this year, we were regularly getting together to collaborate on some future photo projects and also provide each other with business advice on our side businesses—one of which is Snip Snap Go. Randomly or not so random, she asked me to join her with Snip Snap Go, and it was in that moment, I knew this partnering up with Erika on Snip Snap Go was exactly what I wanted. While both of us have similar backgrounds in the photography industry, together we bring very different strengths to the table that work well together—I’m the dreamer, full of “crazy” ideas, Erika keeps us on the ground, I like to move fast, and Erika is a little more thoughtful.

How did you make yourselves decide to start Snip Snap Go? Because “Just do it” is easier said than done.

Erika: I had a client hemming and hawing about price and after I had the lightbulb moment, I figured I just try it out to see how it works. In this case, there was no other option than to “just do it”—I had to see if the idea held water.

Did Snip Snap Go officially launch this year? What were essential steps taken to start and establish your company? And why were these steps important?

Renee: Erika had established clients literally asking for this service before it even existed. It was a simple implementation for her, considering she had the necessary equipment and expertise to quickly get the ball running.

Erika: The lightbulb moment happened in 2012, and I have had a few false starts over the years, but I am now more dedicated to see what Snip Snap Go’s full potential is to see how far we can take it!

What was the first thing you did when you embarked on getting Snip Snap Go real?

Erika: Simply put, just set up the equipment and let people use my camera to see if it was doable.

Who and/or what are your consistent photography and/or business-related influences? This is a conglomeration of many things come together at the right time.

Erika: When I came up with Snip Snap Go, I was noticing the evolution of the digital age, I was intrigued by Louis CK’s way of making his work accessible and easy to clients as opposed to making people jump through hurdles and having them pay more. I was listening to the “Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders” Podcast a lot, which helped me think about photography in a different way, and being less attached to the ego of being a photographer. I also met Jason Fried, and he and I chatted a lot about business and asked him about how his business came to be. I liked his way of thinking about things and how defying the norm is a good thing, if you have a good reason to do it.

Renee: Working in a creative field and helping others are two important main features of any new venture I would embark upon. Joining Snip Snap Go provided me with the opportunity to embrace this. With that said, I’m always in search of inspiration, listening to podcasts that focus on startups and reading about successful business savvy speakers to glean inspiration and knowledge for whatever comes next. Also, keeping an eye on current trends and exactly what gets me excited in my day to day.

In running Snip Snap Go, what are some true and/or emerging “best practices” in working well, in working as best as possible?

Renee: Lots of communication and understanding the mutual goal for the business. If we’re on the same track with the same mission, there’s a mutual understanding between us that we’re aligned, even if not agreeing on something.

Erika: I agree with Renee about the communication. Also, I find that meeting in person at least once a week helps us keep on track with keeping Snip Snap Go going and discussing ideas and ways to market and discussing experiences with clients, as well as our growth going forward keeps us excited about where Snip Snap Go is going.

What is the size of your team? Do you have remote team members? And what size of company do you prefer?

Erika: Right now, it is Renee and I, but I am excited at the prospects of expanding the business nationwide to make affordable photography accessible to everyone! I am excited to see how this grows and expands over time.

Renee: As Erika mentioned, we’re a thriving business of two now, but see the need to expand very soon to accommodate for growth and customer development. We envision the business growing in all large economic sectors in the US within the next 2 years.

What is your definition of growth, as it relates to business?

Renee: Expansion and profitability, but also creating an inspiring work environment that helps our employees and customers grow.

Erika: I see growth in that society finally sees the need for your company. It seems as if a lot of the successful innovative companies started very small with an idea that initially feels too different for people to understand, and then there is a switch moment when people understand the need for that company and are excited to share it with others.

How important is it for you to follow your instincts?

Erika: Very important, I feel like with startups, so many people have opinions on how it’s going to fail, so following the gut feeling of knowing that it works is very important. It’s good to listen to advice from others, but to stay true to your gut/idea and not let yourself be ping-ponged by others’ opinions.

Renee: I’ll second Erika’s answer on that. Trusting your gut instincts is usually sound practice.

How do you handle disagreements while you’re working?

Erika: I feel like we are very open with our feelings and we express our opinions. If we don’t agree, we marinate and see if we can compromise or figure out what is the best solution to move forward. I tend to be very stubborn, so I have to watch out for my bullheadedness and make sure that I am not resisting just to resist. Self-awareness is key.

Renee: Communication! Always communicate openly and honestly. Holding anything in, whether it’s an observation or a criticism will only backfire in the end. I fully trust in our business partnership, and know that we both value and respect each other’s opinions. We won’t always agree on everything and that’s actually a good thing. There needs to be regular back and forth to grow.

How do you get the word out about Snip Snap Go, build awareness and attract customers?

Renee: Tell everyone you know about Snip Snap Go. There’s no shame in being excited about something! Other obvious funnels: utilizing social media to it’s capacity (which to be frank, we’re still getting our feet wet here), installing pop-ups, throwing mini-launch parties, cold emailing, cold visiting businesses, regular contact with people we’ve connected with in the past, networking at events.

Erika: I believe that talking to people and explaining how the business works in person is key, especially at this starting point, people have reservations and fear that they can’t use our photo equipment, so I think that making it clear on how it works is best. Social media, and doing events like our August 27 headshot promotional event, are a good way to expose people to how easy it is to use Snip Snap Go.

Must say, your company’s name is snappy. When and how did you arrive at the name for your business?

Erika: Originally, I was mulling over calling it Snip Snap and different interactions, I have to give credit to Jason Fried about adding the GO part, it made sense, his reasoning was that it sounded like Tic Tac Toe, which makes it more memorable and singsongy, adding the GO also resonates to how you just get the job done and go without hassle.

What effect do you strive to achieve with Snip Snap Go?

Erika: SO MUCH! I want people to realize that they can take photos of their own products and feel empowered when they do, I get very excited when people love their photos using the Snip Snap Go service. I also hope that people realize that photography itself isn’t as easy as you think and that they still find value in hiring a photographer for more complex ideas and concepts. What I have noticed with our current customers is that they realize how important the lighting is and that it is the key to great photography.

Renee: To empower business owners and others with a tool that enhances their product, image or branding to a new level—all while doing so in an affordable way. We’re accessing a middle ground with regards to photography, which hasn’t been offered yet, and solves the problem many new business owners have with featuring a product in the best light.

Erika: HA!

If a person approached you and said, “I have this idea for a product/service and want to pursue it,” what’s your response?

Erika: Nike coined it best: “Just do it.” You wont know until you try something if it works or not. I cant tell you if it will or won’t, because as we know Airbnb was told it would fail, Whole Foods was told it would fail, Uber, Lyft, Dollar Shave Club, all these new inventive companies that were outside the box were told that it would never work until they proved that it could!

Renee: “Just do it”—I don’t think that’s cliché at all or misguided. Prove your idea or concept, test the market, build, ship and see what happens. It’s not that complicated. Go online, Google what you need to know to get started and do it. Take the baby steps or leaps needed to get it going, and make it happen. One can think about something endlessly and think they’ve made progress, because they’ve thought it out, but until you start taking some real initiative, all you have is an idea.

How does the city of Chicago contribute to your work? And what makes Chicago special for startups/business/creativity-at-large?

Renee: Because Chicago has vast growth in all sectors of business, whether established or new up-and-coming. It offers a plenty of opportunity for a business to flourish with available quantifiable resources and appropriate people to connect with.

Erika: Chicago makes it easy to connect with people face to face, and its affordable to host a space to have Snip Snap Go. I feel like Chicagoans are a friendly bunch as well, and there are a TON of startup companies that need photos whether it be headshots or product photography! We can help!

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Images courtesy of Erika Dufour and Renee Gooch of Snip Snap Go.

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