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Dec 11, 2009 | 2 minute read

Product Photography: Getting the Picture

written by Linda Bustos

The following is a guest post by Cynthia Kounaris of FitForCommerce.

You want images of your products on your website? Of course you do. And with digital photography, that should be cheap and simple. Right? Wrong. Product imagery is far from black and white.

There’s a lot to consider before you shoot images for your online store. Do your homework. Learn what the best practices are and ensure that you are following them.

  • Label any “call outs” on the image and target them to image details, accordingly.
  • Determine the best type of photography for your customer; consider lifestyle, mannequin, model, layout.
  • Use real images – not stock photography.
  • Have high-resolution, high-quality images that show the details the customer wants to see.
  • Ensure that the images displayed accurately depict the product being purchased; describe any differences.

Looking at the Best Practices above (from FitBase), you can immediately see a few things:

  • Using images correctly involves your overall site design. You’ll need to understand where to place them, what imaging technology is needed, what browsers work with your imaging technology, download speed, what server capacity is required, etc.
  • You need to understand your demographic and your marketing strategy. What images will appeal to your customer? What overall user experience are you looking for?
  • It will be expensive (photographer, models, sets, lighting). It is a lot more than sending someone out with a digital camera to do it right.
  • You need to pay attention to detail, and that takes time and planning.
  • Product images need to accurately reflect your inventory, so your backend must be tightly-coupled with your front end. If you no longer carry that color, don’t show it.

Below are two good examples from two very different types of retailers. Both are high-quality images with a lot of detail and with options to enlarge and/or to view different angles. You can add 360-degree views, zoom, “swatching” and show scale. Of course, all this rich imaging costs you in time and money. The good news is that, if you do it right, you can significantly increase conversions.

Additionally, there is detailed product information available in these examples to give customers further clarity about their purchases. Images and copy need to work hand-in-hand to best display the product and best convey critical information to the customer. The goal is for the customer to feel confident in the purchase and not need to go into the store to physically inspect the product.

The take-away is that this is not a one-day, one-person task. This impacts and is impacted by many different areas of your online business so involve the key people from those different departments. Be sure to select the photographer and the tools that can provide what you need for your website. The copy must be clear and useful and relate to the image. You need to consider your budget, your creative design, your marketing (budget, demographics, strategy) and your inventory.

A picture can be worth a thousand words (and a thousand sales!) so focus on the time, effort, tools and planning needed to do it right.