Everything is being automated—including photography. In case you missed it, there’s a new innovation for product photography: the all-in-one photo machine.
All-in-one photo machines are designed to make product photography and cataloging more efficient. You simply prepare and style the product, place it on the machine’s surface, and let the machine do the rest. No photographers needed. No need to fuss over lighting.
The innovation is all about efficiency; it’s designed to reduce the time it takes to get product images into a digital storefront, where they can start generating orders. That efficiency, however, is only valuable if you’re willing to jeopardize what makes your brand special.
Automated photography may not be worth it in the long run, and we’re not just saying this because we run a photography and production studio. The problem is that efficiency isn’t what most product photography needs—differentiation is.
Too many products look and behave the same in the post-consumer, digital marketplace. Nearly every shirt, lamp, rug, faucet, floor tile, chair, bed, desk, electronic device, potion, and elixir looks pretty similar to its competitor. Buyers can’t tell the difference between one product and all the other me-too, knockoff, copycat versions.
Photography within traditional channels, such as print advertising, is just as repetitive. Browse any commercial publication and you’ll see the same thing: products within the same category looking the same. For the buyer, this monotony makes it hard to know which wall covering, countertop, lighting fixture, office chair, or flooring choice is best.
Photography is one of the first encounters your audience will have with a new product. It shapes their perception and their experience. If establishes the look and feel of the product and what makes it special. If you underplay its value, you’re wasting a huge opportunity.
When your photography fails to convey a distinctive look and feel, four problems arise:
- Buyers can’t distinguish any real product advantage, so they base their decisions on price.
- When you can’t show, you have to tell. This is how product ads get littered with copy. Advertisers desperately try to sway their audiences with long lists of boring features, benefits, and technical specs, which lessens the emotional connection with the viewer.
- The images are uninteresting, predictable, and largely overlooked, which means they are a waste of money.
- The product experience is shallow; the buyer feels very little connection to the product or to the entity that’s selling it to them. Nothing piques their interests or emotions.
Many marketers view changes to their photography as a risky prospect—but in reality, there is greater risk in doing it exactly they way everyone else does it. Your photography is more than a visual representation of your product, it’s an opportunity to create a distinctive brand experience: one that’s immersive, memorable, and emotionally distinctive.
When you shift how you photograph your brand, and carefully curate the images associated with your company, you gain a competitive advantage. Stop thinking about selling products, or even solving problems, and start thinking about creating an experience around your brand.
5 Ways to Improve Experiences and Increase Market Share through Photography
- Determine the primary characteristic or quality you want to associate with your brand. Once you’ve defined that characteristic, let it lead your photography. Is that word performance, luxury, innovation, sustainability, convenience, or flexibility? Whatever it is, it should be the guiding theme of your product photography.
- Commit to both brand and product photography, and make sure your product photography incorporates the feeling of larger brand photography. Take a close look at some of the great iconic brands, the ones with a cult following, such as Patagonia. Their most powerful ads create a feeling for the overall brand, they don’t focus too closely on the product.
- Spend some time on the detail shots. Buyers can’t touch, feel, taste, or smell the product from a flat image, so you have to help stimulate those senses with detailed shots that evoke a broader range of sensory experience.
- Make sure that the props, scenery, and lighting tell a story; that they engage the viewer in a broader experience.
- Hire a photography and production partner that can help push your brand and differentiate it. You don’t want a vendor or a freelancer who executes your command—you want a team that can come up with new ideas and execute them flawlessly. Look for someone who believes photography is key to the customer experience, and essential to brand differentiation.
In spite of the fact that visual content is faster and easier to process, most brands are still playing it safe when it comes to photography, doing exactly what their competitors do in the most predictable way possible. It’s time to change that.
Success begins by shifting your relationship to photography and understanding its power as visual content. For help creating a photographic presence that impacts market share and drives revenues, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 404-977-0162.