Meet Ashir Cherkezov, Our Art Dept. Photographer Who Makes TechMikeNY Servers Look Gorgeous!
Over the years, we've received compliments from our customers (and indirectly from our competitors when they steal our images!) on how impressive our product photos are. We thought it would be nice to give credit where credit is due and showcase our in-house photographer, Ashir Cherkezov. Ashir has been our exclusive photographer for TechMikeNY servers and parts for the past three years.
We thought it would be fun to take you behind our tech curtain, talk to Ashir, and find out how he makes our refurbished servers look better than new.
How long have you been taking product photos for TechMikeNY? Approximately how many shots of products do you think you've taken?
I've been at it for about three years. Initially, I was only retouching product photos, but they liked my work, so I was asked to take the photos too (that I would then retouch!).
I have taken tens of thousands of product photos for the brand. It may even be past one-hundred thousand now. When a product needs a new image, it's not just one photo per server or even one photo per angle – you have to take multiple shots of the product to create the options you need for retouching. It is incredible how one poor-quality image of just a section of a server, such as a blurry internal component, can ruin the quality of the entire image. Also, we have recently implemented a 360 view of some of our products. Those 360 interfaces, depending on the frame rate or quality you want to achieve, can require hundreds of photos.
What is your process like in taking the server photographs? What is the greatest challenge in creating them?
For servers: I position it correctly to the angle it looks the best, and I start taking shots at different focal distances. There may be more than a hundred pictures of one object from one point of view. After the whole photo session, I come to my workstation with around fifteen hundred shots. Then I sort the entire batch, delete the unnecessary ones, and stack sets of images from one point of view. When that process is complete, I have only around 5-10 pictures for the retouching process.
The greatest challenge is Enterprise rack servers are not a stand-alone product, and you often have to take photos of their accessories. For example, a server SKU can have bezels, rails, power supply units, etc., as part of the build. I have to take shots of all these components separately from one position to combine them in post into one seamless composite image.
It’s very satisfying when you see the finished product come together. We live in a visual society, and people want to see quality pictures of what they are buying!
What is the most interesting or most fun product you've photographed?
The micro SD card. When I first received the request for the product photo, the only information I had from our inventory tool was that it was a storage product and its volume. I was expecting to get a standard 3.5" or 2.5" hard drive, but instead, I received a tiny SD card!
Fortunately, I had been looking for an excuse to use my macro 1:1 lens, and this was the perfect opportunity for it. Getting a photo in focus of that tiny SD card wasn't an issue.
What are the tools you use? The camera? What software applications do you use?
The primary tool is, obviously, a high-quality DSLR camera. I prefer the Nikon brand.
As for software: Helicon Focus (stacking software), GIMP for photo editing (YES, it's GIMP, not Photoshop), and sometimes even Cinema 4D (3d computer graphics application).
Do you have any photography work that isn't of servers and server-related products?
Yes, of course!
My hobby is 3D design, which encompasses several visual discipline design mediums (including Photography)and software tools. I use a lot of available graphic design resources to transform into reality an idea that might come to my mind. My hobby has stayed the same for over 17 years and I can’t image switching to something else. Although I never consider any of my hobby projects completed – they are continually growing and changing!
Do you have any questions for Ashir? Are there any other “behind the scenes” people or processes that you would like to see us cover in our blog? Leave a comment below, and we’ll put it in the queue!