E-commerce Photography: Do I Need to Hire a Professional?
Photography series – Part I
So you have some nice products ready to sell online. All you need now is pictures of what you’ve painstakingly produced, or put together. You decide to click some shots of each of your items, probably touch-up the photos a bit in a popular image processing software, and finally upload them on to various marketplaces. You think this was easy – why pay a professional for it when you can do it yourself for much less cost! But then you notice that the marketplace rejects the pictures. Or it doesn’t, but your products don’t sell enough. Or they do, but the number of requests for returns and exchange is higher than you expected. Now you sit and back-track your steps.
Is it my fault?
There are a number of people and several online sources that will tell you that you need not spend money in good equipment, nor hire professional services to photograph what you want to sell online. You will find innumerable suggestions on how to do it yourself, do it at home and most of them may sound pretty convincing. To top it, you probably have a great Instagram following, your pictures on Facebook gather likes to the tunes of 3 digits, and your family and friend circle call upon you to click the mandatory group photo (or selfie in some cases). But all this goes to say that photography as an art form is probably what your area of interest and expertise is. But e-commerce photography? That’s a different space altogether.
What? How are the two different?
So what would you say photography as an art is? What is its purpose? It captures a subject, portrays emotion, reflects the perspective of the photographer, provides an unexplored angle to a mundane thing, or is abstract. Much like other creative spaces, photography as an art form has a great degree of involvement of the artist – it’s about his imagination and his perception of the subject.
Now having read that, the difference between photography as an art and e-commerce photography is glaringly obvious. E-commerce photography is done with the intent of selling and of minimizing returns. It aims to do justice to the product by exhibiting it exactly as it is without enhancing or applying filters to make the picture seem more beautiful. An e-commerce photographer must step out of his own shoes, and put on those of a prospective customer. What would a customer want to see, need to know, like to find out? Product photographs have to answer those questions. If not done right, e-commerce photography can either create an illusion of a product which a customer would be disappointed with when he receives his purchase, or would show the product in poor light and lead customers to never pick that product.
Fashion Photography is gorgeous, and creative. But does it help your customers decide whether this would suit them or not?
E-commerce photography is technical, focuses on presenting facts correctly and has less scope for abstract creativity – but it helps your customers understand if this product is for them or not.
OK, so what should I do?
As an online seller, you owe it to the prospective customers to replicate the real-life store experience. Of course, there is no way for them to touch and feel the product. However, the sense of sight can come quite close to providing that experience with the help of the right photographs. If you are selling on portals like OLX and Quickr, the photos you click with your 10 Megapixels phone or even from your DSLR will work just fine. But when you’re selling on popular, leading marketplaces, or on your own e-store, hire a professional e-commerce photography service and help reduce the shock your customers get when they finally receive their orders. Quotes are clichéd and you’ve probably read this one before, but we’ll still remind you: if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional for the job, wait until you hire an amateur.
We at Browntape believe e-commerce photography should be taken seriously. With a team of experienced photographers and editors, we click over 500 photos a day across our fully-equipped studios. If you need any help with e-commerce photography, feel free to reach out to Browntape.