When walking into a store, do you like to see the products up close? Do you touch the material just to see how it feels? What about smelling that new perfume you’ve been so curious about?
We use almost all of our senses right when we walk into a store. However, in this new era of excessive and exclusive online shopping, most of our senses are -no pun intended- out of the picture. We can only grasp the ideas of what something feels like, smells, like, or even really looks like from the limited online photos provided.
Senses lead to sales. So, if a consumer is only relying on their sense of sight, it puts that much more pressure on visuals. Lifestyle product photography is a great way to bring senses back into selling- and if this isn’t already convincing, we are going to break it down for all the skeptics.
Compensating for the lack of senses involved in the buying process is a challenge for any brand. Capturing all 5 senses is difficult, even for the serial iPhone photographers out there. Crafting eye-catching lifestyle product photography, that captures a product in a natural environment or realistic scene, can give customers a better sense of what they are looking at online. Whether it helps an audience understand scale, uses, or potential routine changes, a professional studio is the best bet in creating images that positively impacts sales.
In 2018, it was found that “75% of online shoppers rely on product photos when deciding on a potential purchase, so just imagine how high that number is now” (IIP, 2018). As the number of online stores continues to steadily rise, product photography will become even more essential to brands worldwide. Statistics like this show just how important product photography is and the large impact that they have on a buyer’s decisions.
Creative direction, extensive resources, and especially-the photography itself- can put some visual sense back into a consumer’s buying experience. Including models, realistic scenes, or demonstrating uses, are sure to increase buyer understanding of a product. Industries like apparel, cosmetics, fitness, and household goods are dominating the world of online shopping and are leading in visual experience through retail product photography. A large amount of competition means that a brand and its media should be carefully crafted to make the best first impression possible to potential buyers.
In a similar way, accurate images matter much more than one might think. Online businesses are constantly having to reinvent and innovate when it comes to customer service and communication. While these can be the most difficult factors to deal with as a brand, they are also some of the most important.
Research by TrueShip tells us that “22% of returns occur because the product looks different in person.” In order to prevent this, companies need to ensure that their product photography is as accurate and descriptive as possible. Lifestyle product photography can assist in demonstrating a realistic representation of a product. Having a model hold a product can show scale, putting it down next to foods that might be used with the product can show off utility, or setting it in a bathroom scene could show how it would fit into a customer's lifestyle.
Customers need to understand all aspects of the product that are being sold in order to prevent losing energy (and even money) on returns, shipping, bad reviews, and unhappy customers. Not only does the color accuracy, ideal angles, and styling of a product matter, but accurate images can be the best way to avoid any unnecessary loss of resources.
The visual experience is one of the most important aspects of creative branding. There are many behind-the-scenes aspects of product photography in general that can seem like a mystery to many eCommerce brands. Apple itself might have convinced everyone that iPhone pictures are all that are needed to sell and promote products. However, when relying on visuals alone, the technical aspects of photography matter that much more, especially when it comes to the more complicated lifestyle photoshoots.
Research shows that “it takes 90 seconds of initial viewing before people make a subconscious judgment about a product” and over time, that number has begun to decline (Turo Law, 2011). There is an abundance of small, merely unrecognizable cues that we subconsciously consider when browsing online. A studio will be able to provide a company with the essentials that would be unavailable when doing an at-home shoot, such as sets, light stands, endless props, camera rigs, models, and of course, a professional photographer.
However, it is important to note that just because someone is a professional doesn't mean that they’ll create professional-looking photography- just because a person has a good pair of scissors, doesn't automatically make them a hairdresser. The key is to find a professional photographer with technical experience and a portfolio with photography that represents the desired creative goals. Working with the right studio can ensure that with just a quick glance, a potential buyer won’t scrutinize or question the image quality.
Gaining the trust of a consumer is harder than it used to be and can be quite difficult.
Recent studies have shown that “around 75% of people base the credibility of business on how their website looks'' (Standford, 2002). As we mentioned above, people know the difference between good and bad lighting, even if it is subconscious. While consumers may not always be able to describe it in technical photography terms, they know the difference between the quality of the visual representations of a product.
The modern informed online buyer looks much different than they might have 5 years ago. When shopping online, it’s usually quite easy for a consumer to recognize a professional photo over one that is amateur or shot in-house. Whether it is conscious or not, the quality of a website, social channel, or product photos greatly influences a buyer’s idea of how credible they are as a brand.
Unprofessional photography is a dead giveaway to an unprofessional website. Factors like model experience, location choice, technical choices, and product styling can all influence a consumer’s opinion of a brand. If photos seem basic or unprofessional, a customer may think that a company is unreliable or not trustworthy enough for them to consider buying.
It’s better to take the time to do it right the first time, instead of rushing, and having to redo the work altogether- a testament that holds true in the world of product advertisement. A DIY approach may seem like the quickest and cheapest way to create visuals for a website or social media. However, hiring someone to take care of all aspects of the creation of any photography needs can allow a brand and its team to put more time and energy elsewhere.
Considering that high-quality retail product photography often requires pre-production, shooting, setup, post-production, editing, and retouching, it’s most likely not something that can be pulled off without a production team, studio, and professional software. Any growing business needs to use its resources wisely. Allocating profits and assets into quality and versatile images can make for a quicker return on the investment.
In 2020, Vennage found that “marketers reached their goals with visual content: stock photography ranked at 13% while original photography & graphics ranked at 40%.” Working with a studio allows a brand to tailor the creative direction of the photoshoot specifically for its strategy. Stock images and amateur photography won’t do the trick. Everyone is looking for a quick return on their investment, and professional product photography can do just that.
The better the images that are sourced now, the less a company would need to keep working to create more and more subpar photos, just to fulfill some of what a customer is looking to see on a website. Quality AND quantity matter.
We’ve already covered how hiring a professional or studio can help save resources and help customers’ understanding of a product. However, we can't forget about the time a creative team could save by working with a studio, instead of taking it all on themselves.
For instance, copywriting can take longer than one might think, and nowadays, consumers don't want to sit and read product descriptions anyways.
Images of products, especially lifestyle images, are relied on heavily when consumers want to know what they are looking at before deciding to make a purchase. Curalate found that “76% of American consumers purchased a product after seeing a brand’s social post.” The more posts that a brand has and the more interaction that happens online, the better.
High-quality lifestyle product photography can help reduce the need for other creative resources that customers need to make informed purchase decisions. Realistic photos allow a customer to see many more aspects of a product than other photography would, especially if a professional studio is used. Allowing a studio to handle the content product, more time can be spent coming up with new ideas, creating campaigns, and communicating with clients online. Writing long paragraphs on a website and answering customers’ questions can be thrown out the window if the photography is that good.
The larger amount and variety of images at disposal, the faster conversion rates, and consumer engagement will grow. The higher quantity and quantity of product photography, the closer a company is to making a sale.
The product market is saturated with advertisements, commercials, and photos that are all competing to capture the attention of their potential customers.
In 2020, Hubspot found that “across social channels, photo and imagery posts are the most-used content type to increase audience engagement.” With the overwhelming amount of this media, it makes it much harder to stand out in the crowded world of online consumer brands.
Coming up with fresh new ideas for social media is difficult enough, so leave it to a professional! Keeping up with all the new TikTok trends, Instagram “rules”, and fashion fads is near impossible for an average brand already. However, using lifestyle shots can help keep things exciting.
While much of the product photography that we see on socials can be on-white photos of e-comm spreads, these types of images can help a brand stand out. Including scenery, models, or a product in use, not only gives consumers a better understanding of the product but can also encourage someone to stop their scroll and learn more. A professional studio should know just what to do with whatever ideas a brand may have for its website or socials.
As previously mentioned, we know new ideas for socials can be tricky. When campaign ideas finally start rolling out, chances are that there has already been loads of time invested on working to find something that most teams agree on, or that works for all channels. Using a studio to create successful images can help expand on the smallest ideas, to get as much out of that one idea as possible.
Most modern brands try to take advantage of any and all social media platforms that they can, in order to promote their products. Studies done by Statista Research, this year, found that “43% of global shoppers research products online via social networks,” and it’s shocking that this number isn't even higher. The power of social media is rising, which means more campaigns, more posts, and more creative assets overall.
Mass media content creation can get confusing, especially when it comes to figuring out complex crop ratios, file types, unique content ideas, or even needing to tailor content for each channel. Especially with lifestyle shoots, an at-home shoot may create a few images that are relatively decent. However, a studio can take a few setups and turn them into dozens of versatile images. Taking photos of the scene or set-up, then including the product, and then adding in a hand, and then a model- these are all ways that a studio can create many images that can all be used in a variety of ways. A differentiating, yet coordinating spread, can take brands above and beyond, making promotion and advertising that much easier.
While creating branding and finding company identity are some of the first tasks on the to-do list, brand awareness can be overlooked. It doesn't matter who a brand is or what they stand for if no one is recognizing them for it. Identification of a brand includes obvious factors like its products, its name, and the logo, but every color, every font, and every shape all craft a brand’s image in the eye of consumers. Creating brand-specific images that an audience can recognize will ensure that a target audience really remembers a product.
People like to know what they expect, and having a familiar experience with a brand will help build trust with customers. When buying new products, it has been found that “90% of users expect to have a similar brand experience across all platforms/channels” (CrowdSpring, 2017). Having a succinct brand across a website and social platforms allows a company to create a satisfying consumer experience all around.
Replicating brand colors, using similar props, and angles are going to be easiest when using a professional studio. When creating lifestyle scenes, there are even more ways to create a recognizable brand. The set design, type of models, wardrobe, materials, and/or location call all add to the creation of an online brand. Realistic photography can help increase the potential for recognition while causing more engagement overall.
From the production, branding execution, and retouching, replication of the branding is going to matter when creating that identifiable content for all platforms. Not only will a studio be able to replicate a current brand identity, but they can also help develop a new and improved version, or even update current campaigns. After building a brand identity, consistency is going to be key, and a professional product photography studio will have the capacity to do just that.
Many online brands that are looking to scale or grow, often have trouble deciding what photos to take or how to allocate their budgets for photography. Any great studio is familiar with these issues and can assist in creating creative, versatile, and high-quality photography. Whether it’s photography for a website banner or a future Instagram post, they’ve done it and they know what works. Production value, resources and contacts, photography quality, and retouching abilities all matter, and can be found in a professional product photography studio.
Invest in the brand, invest in the customers, and invest in professional product photography.