chapter 1

Why Product Photography is Important

An Introduction to Product Photography

We live in a visual world. A customer walks into a brick and mortar store because they like what they see from outside. Similarly, when customers land on your store page, their attention gravitates to your images first and, if they like what they see, they keep on browsing and, hopefully, make a purchase. That is why product photography is essential to the success of any ecommerce operation.

The purpose of this guide is to teach you how to create product images that turn your customers into loyal followers.

Quality product images are a key driver of store engagement, conversion and retention, and overall customer lifetime value. This guide will walk you through the entire process of producing images that help you grow your store.

When you are through, you will know:

  • What kind of images to produce for both your product page and social media.
  • What kind of equipment you need, even if you are on a budget.
  • How to use background and lighting to take professional photos.
  • How to retouch your images to drive more engagement.
  • How to build a killer visually driven product page and optimize it for maximum conversion.

Eye-tracking studies show that store visitors are first engaged by visual elements, which makes them more likely to stick around and explore the site. The quality of your images will define this first interaction, the perceived value of your products, and your brand’s image. First impressions can make or break an ecommerce store and your product photos are at the helm of that interaction. This guide will help you understand what makes an image engaging and walk you through producing photos that boost the lifetime value of your customers.

We offer all the photography tricks and tools you will ever need to take great product photos that help you turn your customers into loyal promoters of your store.

There are a few key decision points along the way of a successful photo shoot, and, if you keep them in check, you will consistently get images that keep your customers coming back. If you want photos that bring results and sustainable growth, this is the Guide for you.

Images are a Key Element of Your Branding

Branding should be intertwined in everything you do, from your store design to your social media taglines. Your branding speaks to your target audience, and successful brands understand its importance in crafting relationships with customers. You form relationships with customers by using your brand voice and personality to resonate with buyers. And images are a key element of that voice and personality.

Think Roar Cordials, a brand that keeps it upbeat with pictures of fresh ingredients and bright colors that communicate the vivacious personality of it and its target audience. When your image resonates with that of your followers, it adds value to their lives, and they become loyal promoters of your products. Good branding promotes trust and appeal, making your products more desirable and ultimately translating to higher retention and conversions.

When done well, branding goes beyond trust and builds up an emotional connection with your buyers. Think how Apple turned people into die-hard fans that own every device the company’s made by promoting their philosophy more than their products.

The images you use across your ecommerce ecosystem radiate your brand’s identity. And the elements that define them define your brand. Some of these elements are:

  • Color palette
  • Saturation
  • Focal length
  • Shadows
  • Composition
  • Location and context

Your images enrich your content and speak to your target audience. If you see a white polar bear on a red background with nothing else, you will immediately think Coca-Cola. Though it may look simple, that level of brand recognition has been years in the making with images of those same colors and main characters all over every kind of physical and virtual experience.

Loran Polder, Old World Kitchen

“When I photograph our products I am not just trying to show the item, I am trying to create a mood and a feeling that I want people to experience when they see and use our handcrafted goods. There is so much competition in online sales, and unless you can compete by having the lowest prices around you really have to find other ways to make your products stand apart from the rest. In a brick and mortar store a very specific mood is created through the lighting, music, decor, etc. Ideally, the mood you create would be something that resonates with and attracts your potential customers. With an online store a picture is worth a thousand words because it’s the only way the customer can experience not only the product but also that mood you want to evoke.”

Source: Old World Kitchen

Photography is a Crucial Part of any Creative Strategy

Images grab and hold consumer attention, forming their first impressions, so make sure they are unique and resonating. The internet is flooded with visual content, but only a handful of it actually improves non-verbal communication and influences consumer emotions. That is the difference between generic photos and photography that tells a story with your product, setting, and color themes.

Your strategy relies on images to improve understanding, increase engagement, and inspire consumers to take action. To do that, you have to create timeless, emotional, and dynamic images that create a favorable perception and ultimately drive sales. Your images have to tell a story and convey your value proposition in a visual voice that resonates with your audience. Creativity can be something as simple as the lighting you use to take your photos or as grand as doing a photoshoot on the beach with the whitest sand. Either one can help you get a competitive edge.

Stats and Facts on the Importance of Images

People form their first impression within a mere 50 milliseconds. That’s less than half a glance! And making that impression count rests on the quality of your images.

A great example of slick and enticing product photography is Bulbul Watches. Their images are utterly simple but uniform and in tune with the brand’s minimalistic designs. The occasional context photo adds the appeal of an active and infinitely cool lifestyle every millennial dreams about. Bulbul passes the 50 milliseconds test with flying colors and makes visitors not only stick around but engage with their website too.

Source: Bulbul

More than half of online shoppers think that product photos are more important than product information, reviews, and ratings. Your images are like windows into your store, and the more representative they are, the more buyers trust you and the momentum they build to wards completing a purchase. Take Dropbottle, for example. They sell water bottles, but their photos make their products look distinct and unique. Their photos are engaging and upbeat and in line with the store’s mission to make hydrating delicious.

Source: Dropbottle

On the other side of the spectrum are sellers that do not put enough effort into their product photos and, in return, enjoy very poor conversion rates. Think a poorly lit and unedited eBay photo on a bad background of an otherwise stylish and expensive pair of sunglasses. You may like the product, but the poor image immediately brings down its perceived value and makes you think of looking for other sellers.

Source: eBay

Product Photography Enhances All Buyer Interactions

Your product images serve as your ambassadors, not only on your product page but across your store and beyond on your on- and offline marketing channels. They help you nurture your buyers along their decision-making journey and, naturally, do a better job at that if they look better.

From grabbing attention with a social media post to an email with casual in-context images, and from physical flyers and banners to product pages that convert, your images do a lot of the legwork.

On social media pages, you can be more creative with your photography but you still have to adhere to high-quality standards. When your customers land on a collection page, you are showcasing your entire product line with images doing most of the talking. Your photos build trust at each touchpoint and transform that trust into higher conversion and retention rates.

Your marketing channels, like blog posts, emails, social media posts, and your product pages, enjoy higher click-through rates when they contain visuals. Imagine what would those places be like without images. If you’re flashing back to 1997, you’re probably already seeing it. Good photography brings life to all corners of your ecommerce efforts and makes customers want to come back.

Don’t forget offline marketing like promotional events and pop-up shops. When you are bringing your ecommerce store into the physical world for an event, you will need flyers and banners that make an impact. While the images you use for digital promotion on small screens have to focus on the product, when you are printing images for your pop-up shop flyers and banners you can use multiple visual techniques for grabbing attention and telling a story.

Next chapter

2. Photography Basics - Understanding Photography Terms and Techniques

10 min

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