Fox-Mar - success story
Photo Studio Saves 75% of the Time Required in Removing Backgrounds with remove.bg
Fox-Mar is South Florida’s leading digital school yearbook photographic studio with over 100 regional high schools and K-11 and K-12 schools.
Since 1974, owners Ira Fox and Mark Maynard, now aided by Ira’s son, Brian, have cultivated a reputation for the best in service and quality helping families commemorate their growing children.
The studio’s services include general portraiture, high school senior portraits, dance photography, special events, and sports teams group photos.
The bulk of the work comes in two seasonal waves: fall photos consisting of a head and shoulders portrait on a neutral background; and a three-quarter-length spring picture in which students can strike a more expressive pose, wear football jerseys or carry their musical instrument for proud display.
At a Glance
Fox-Mar Photography needed to offer their clients a choice of backgrounds for their portraits of students.
They had tried lighting the background with colored gels but the results were too limited.
Green screen technology provided choice but creating a consistent outcome was always a challenge. Errors needed to be corrected by hand in Photoshop.
Brian Fox tested remove.bg after a tip-off from a friend and was “blown away”.
The software was quickly added to Fox-Mar’s workflow. remove.bg to processes more than 20,000 images a month during busy periods.
With access to the API, the studio integrated remove.bg with another piece of software and can now replace, retouch and crop its photos in one click.
The company has saved 50-75% of the time it takes to remove backgrounds and cut thousands of dollars from the cost of manual labor.
Fox-Mar was able to reallocate staff to other departments and increase efficiency throughout the company.
remove.bg is “a near-seamless addition to the workflow 99% of the time,” says Fox.
For Fox-Mar Photography, successful competition is all about offering choice. Customers increasingly demand the option of switching out the background of photographs.
Fox-Mar had experimented with two ways to liven up their picture backgrounds for sitters: gels and green screen.
The gels - colored film on the background lights in the studio - were simple and easy to use and required no particular post-processing. But it was only a tinted background, at the end of the day, and not exciting enough to delight the parents and students.
Chroma-key, on the other hand, offered an infinite number of background choices but creating perfect conditions was always a challenge, even in the studio. Spillover and shadows would often creep in. In those shadows, the green wasn’t extracted, and the task would have to be done manually in Photoshop.
The studio was looking for a quicker and more efficient solution to replace the backgrounds.
Fox heard about remove.bg from a good friend in the industry who asked him to keep it under his hat since, “if we feed them too much work they might explode.”
He carried out some tests on the website and, he said, “it blew my mind.”
After filling out a form on the site, he chatted with someone about the volume of processing they would require - up to 21,000 images a month or two a minute - and then went ahead with becoming a customer.
He describes the studio’s work as moving sandpiles or doing sequential pieces of work to get the finished photo to the clients, normally the parent.
“Broadly, we take the images and associate each with individual students by matching a kid’s name to a kid’s face, making sure they are in the right order. Then we have to determine which want particular packages - prints, downloads, specialty items - which need post-production (such as background removal) and then deliver them to the school for their use.
“We wanted remove.bg to be one of the stops in moving these sandpiles about.”
Fox-Mar has saved 50-75% of the time required in removing backgrounds and cut thousands of dollars from the cost of manual labor.
“It’s a near-seamless addition to the workflow 99% of the time.”
He is particularly happy that remove.bg opened up its API. It has allowed him to integrate the background removal process with another piece of software that crops images.
“We can replace, retouch and crop the photo in one click,” he says.
Due to the increased efficiency, Fox-Mar was able to reallocate staff to other departments and increase efficiency throughout the company rather than cutting hours.
Fox-Mar expanded its offering and was able to offer different options to its clients “with ease”, expanding the possibilities into 100s of different, relevant background choices, American flags, something from their heritage, or even just the beach.
Fox says he has 90% customer satisfaction with the remove.bg service.
The studio has even been able to help some of its schools compete better in a competition for the best photography in a yearbook.
“One of the judges’ criteria is “consistency in the portrait background”, says Fox. There have been challenges. Bows in students’ hair are sometimes cut out as are lacrosse stick nets or strings on tennis rackets.
“We were told to upload any failed images to help train the AI,” says Fox. “The frustration was we could not find enough examples!”
The issue with bows in the hair got solved in time.
Everyone at remove.bg is always cooperative, he says.
For example, when Covid caused major disruption to the studio’s plan, the software provider extended credit on the plan until schools returned to something like normal running.
“We’ve gotten no customer complaints about backgrounds,” he concludes. “We might have used the wrong background sometimes!”