Having stellar product images is one of the most important investments a designer can make for their business. A breathtaking photo sells the product and greatly increases the public and media’s perceptions of a brand, while a bad photo makes a beautiful product look terrible and hinders sales and marketing efforts. As a couture jewelry designer, I’ve shown my jewelry collections for several seasons at New York Fashion Week and as I’ve met with some of the top tier fashion editors and stylists, I’ve learned a lot about how to photograph and market my work more effectively.
1. Define your target audience and marketing goals
Your target audience and marketing goals greatly influence the ideal photography style for your products. Who are you trying to reach and what impression do you want to make with them? Is your goal to gain press exposure, increase goodwill for your brand or drive wholesale and retail sales or all the above? Will these photos be part of your look book or line sheet? Are you placing any digital or print ads? How many photos can you include in your trade show display?
2. Know the photo standards for the industry serving your target audience
There’s a lot of truth to the cliché “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” If your images are not up to your industry’s current standards you’ll make a poor impression and miss out on valuable opportunities for your brand. Research the various publications and websites serving your market niche. Then, use the photography styles they feature as a guide for your next photo shoot.
3. Knockouts vs. Models
Most publications require products shown on a pure white background with no shadow, AKA knockout images. This allows editors to place your product on any page within their publication. Knockout images show the entire product, which provides editors with valuable information when they’re selecting pieces for editorial features. E-commerce sites also prefer knockout images because they provide the visual information customers need to make a buying decision. If you have a complex product that absolutely cannot be rigged for a knockout photo, you may want to hire models.
Models can be a wonderful addition to your marketing. Casting models that reinforce your branding message and represent the lifestyle of your target audience will help viewers emotionally connect with your product, which often increases sales. When working with models you will want to hire professional hair and make-up artists and a fashion stylist. These professionals help you plan the appropriate hair, make-up and styling for your collection, which are critical details for making a powerful positive impression with your target audience. Professional styling services also often include a run-through prior to the shoot, because what looks fabulous in real life doesn’t always look great on camera, and you don’t want to waste valuable time and money on figuring out these important details during your shoot.
4. Hire the best photographer
An experienced photographer who is passionate about shooting the style of images you require will help you reach your target audience and marketing goals. When meeting with your photographer clearly explain all the ways you intend to use the photos and bring examples of the publications serving your market niche. Also, show a few examples of what you don’t want for your photos. This helps get everyone on the same page.
Experienced product photographers have dealt with every issue imaginable on a photo shoot. Listen to your photographer’s insights, as they will know how to shoot and highlight your products’ best features so your images resonate with viewers. They will also know which modeling agencies, stylists, and hair and make-up artists should be involved with your photo shoot.
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