15–17 Backfields Lane
Stokes Croft,
Bristol, BS2 8QW

A good photograph can sell a thousand products

Posted by Cat How, February 28, 2018

A picture tells a thousand words, and in the case of selling your products online — a good photograph can sell a thousand products.

Never underestimate the power of a well-taken photograph: you can have the best product in the world but if a customer can’t get an idea of what it looks and feels like from your photograph then you are selling it — and yourself — short. Which is a travesty! Give yourself the best chance by taking into account some of the things that we considered when selecting work and photographing our own products for our previous design shop.

  • What we look for: Ideally if a designer is able to provide a great cut-out shot as well as a lifestyle shot of their product, shops are generally more than happy to use these also. With our old design shop, specifically, we always aimed to take a range of our own photos (especially lifestyle ones), but with most shops this is not the case so if you can provide them with what they need from the outset then you are saving them time which is always a winner!
  • What is a Cut Out Shot? A cut-out shot is a photograph of your product on a white background. Press almost always want these as they can then cut out your photo to arrange on their pages with little fuss. I would say it is pretty much essential to make sure that every one of your products has a product shot, and not only that but that you have them in a range of different sizes.
  • Press and Cut Out Shots: Print press always ask for 300 DPI (Dots Per Inch) or Print Quality pictures so make sure you have a high resolution version of your cut out shot you can send over to them. It makes sense to have the same shot as a lower res version (72 DPI) which works better on the web and is more appropriate for online press and blogs.
  • What is a Lifestyle Shot? A lifestyle shot is a picture of your product in a setting which gives a customer or buyer a flavour of what it looks like in situ. Lifestyle shots are great for creating a mood around your product and for giving people a sense of its size, colour and feel — things which can sometimes get lost in the harsh abstraction of a cut out shot. This is your chance to tell a story with your product so have fun and take 2–3 in different angles and positions to really show it off!
  • How many pictures should I have? There is no hard and fast rule for this, but generally the more the better! The more angles and positions you are able to show your product in, the more of an idea a potential buyer can get of what it would look like in the flesh. This is good for you, because the last thing you want is a disappointed customer. I’d say between two and six photographs per product is a good amount to aim for.
  • Be honest with your photos: Make sure your pictures are always truthful to your product — a little Photoshop tweaking is a good thing and I would actively encourage plumping up a photo a little to make it sing; but make sure that you don’t dramatically change what your product looks like in order to sell it. It will only come back and bite you in the bum when a customer or buyer gets something that looks completely different and wants to send it back.
  • Have fun with your photos! Aside from your cut out shots, think about fun and innovative ways of presenting your lifestyle shots and your products in general. At Howkapow we used to use coloured paper and quirky arrangements to tell a slightly different story. If you have a range of pieces that work together, consider doing a photo shoot with them all in or using props or models to create a feel all of your own.

(Photo Credit: Sarah Illenberger)

Cat How is a Creative Director and Co-Founder of Pollen Place — a unique workspace and event space based in central Bristol designed to nurture creativity and help people and their businesses grow. She is also Creative Director of branding and graphic design agency, Polleni. Cat studied at the University of Bristol and Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. She has worked as a journalist and graphic designer for newspapers such as MetroThe Guardian and The Observer. Most recently, she was creative director of the e-commerce design business, Howkapow, she founded and ran with her husband Rog How. Howkapow was sold in February 2017. In that time Cat and Rog were running it, Howkapow was given accolades such as the “Best Online Shop for Stylish Homewares” (The Guardian); one of the “Top Ten Online Design Shops” (The Sunday Times) and their pop-up “The Best Shop To Visit In Bristol” (The Guardian).

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