At a glance

Kemmetmueller Photography is a family-owned business that has been active in Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka area for over 50 years.

In 2010, lead photographer, Matthew Kemmetmueller, took full ownership of the company his father founded in 1972. Back then, it was primarily focused on wedding photography. After photographing 36 unions in 2009, Matthew decided to expand the business into different markets.

"With, we can save time at a more affordable price point and run the process without a person actually being involved."

Matthew Kemmetmueller

Matthew Kemmetmueller

Owner & Lead Photographer at Kemmetmueller Photography

Today, Kemmetmueller and his large team photograph hundreds of thousands of high school seniors and sportspeople along with families, babies, and even the odd wedding.

The challenge

Kemmetmueller Photography's growth has been phenomenal: the company photographed just 86 school children eight years ago, rising to well over 100K students booked for this fall.

Meanwhile, 40,000 sports team members photographed increased to 250,000.

“We are disgustingly busy all year around doing a mix of sports and school photos,” says Kemmetmueller. “But we have to hire 22 extra photographers from the second week of August until the third week of November when we are doing school yearbooks. That’s when we are slammed.”

These are added to the company’s 12-14 year-round full-time photographers.

Added to this huge volume, a new generation of photography customers is increasingly tech-savvy and familiar with eCommerce best practices.

“It used to be, you put your money in an envelope, take it to school and give it to the photographer,” he explains. After that, you would wait to get your picture mailed out to you in a few weeks and you hoped you liked it.”

“We introduced a view first model which means parents can choose from several poses of each child hosted in a protected, online gallery. We wanted to be able to clean up the pictures as effectively and quickly as possible and offer customers a choice of backgrounds.”

Early in the development process, K-Photography began to discover issues with the most popular method of background removal at the time, green screen. "Like many studios, we faced significant challenges achieving consistent, even lighting on our green screen. This, combined with the green cast, resulted in numerous issues that required us to frequently clean up our images. enabled us to transition to a grey background, effectively eliminating cast problems and still providing our production team with an efficient knockout process." he recalls.

Because the company was spending time cleaning up all the cast color, they were keen to experiment with AI background removal software.

The work

Kemmetmueller discovered through a colleague who worked at digital photography platform, CaptureLife.

It was love at first sight.

“I logged on and thought, this is crazy!” he says. “I pushed it pretty hard including in my Facebook group that now has over 6,000 members.”

“We had come such a long way. When we first started out, we couldn’t do AI knockouts at all, then we tried green screen and that wasn’t good enough. With, I thought we would be able to offer the same product as bigger companies with access to their own proprietary software without having to invest the money ourselves to develop a product.”

He started using the bulk uploader on his so-called “action stations”, four Mac Minis set up to carry out the huge amount of automated work required.

A team of seven quality assurance editors then makes sure everything is optimal before being sent out to the customer.

The result

“We found does an amazing job knocking out headshots,” says Kemmetmueller, who grades it around nine out of 10 for the service.

“It’s pretty close to flawless,” he adds.

The numbers were even more impressive.

“When we had the green screen action, it would take 30 seconds to run the old workflow, to do the work and save each as a PNG. With three images for each of 114,000 student heads, it would take 171,000 minutes this year.

“With, that process is done automatically and takes just eight seconds per image.”

That totals 45,600 minutes, a saving of 125,400 minutes. That represents 2,090 hours, 87 days or nearly 12 and a half weeks.

Because works in the Cloud, he can continue running resource-heavy software at the same time.

“It’s able to do everything without killing my Photoshop running on the same computer,” he says.

Kemmetmueller adds that is also “extremely useful” when stripping backgrounds from sports and team photos but sometimes cuts out “props”.

“You might lose part of a hockey stick, for example,” he says. He is working with customer support, which he says is great, to supply images for training and improved outcomes.

In summary, Kemmetmueller says the background removal service has been a “big win” for K-Photography.

“We are trying to grow a company while doing a lot of work at the same time,” he concludes. “The most expensive thing is always labor. And running out of time is the biggest constraint.

“With, we can save time at a more affordable price point and run the process without a person actually being involved. You have reduced friction in a critical phase of our digital process while producing high quality results.”

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Alex Lupascu

Alex Lupascu

Account Executive

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