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Whether you are in the early stages of launching a product or you are a seasoned seller, it’s easy to fall into the trap of cutting corners when it comes to product photography on Amazon. Why? Because you’ve probably allocated so much funding already toward things like design, creation, packaging, and manufacturing, that something like images on Amazon is low on your list of things to invest in. Heck, anyone with a camera and a filtering/editing app can create decent images, right?
The problem with this rationale is that rarely do self-produced images look as good as professional ones. We are a culture driven by advanced technology that inundates us with information at alarming rates. As such, we rely heavily on visualization – not sales copy – to make informed, purchasing decisions. So, those photos you shot and uploaded yourself may pass as decent to the untrained eye, but small mistakes could have huge repercussions on your brand’s success.
Here are the top 6 mistakes you are probably making with product photography on Amazon and how to correct them.
Amazon sets parameters for sizing images, both on regular listings and on EBC. A novice photographer may take a series of pictures that look great on camera. However, once they have been sized according to Amazon’s standards, the final effect could be vastly different than what they originally looked like. A trained photographer knows how to optimize space and positioning in order to showcase the product so that it translates well once uploaded onto Amazon. This also ensures the images won’t appear pixelated or too small upon resizing. Amazon’s guidelines encourage first page shots of products to fill at least 85% of the space, which many sellers don’t follow.
Non-professional cameras, untrained photographers, and improper lighting conditions are, collectively, a recipe for disaster when it comes to showing off your product. This is particularly obvious when a potential buyer uses the zoom option on an image. With a professionally-shot image, a customer on Amazon can zoom in on that image and it will properly reflect the tiny details such as fibers, texture, stitching, and coloring of the product. If a non-professional takes the photo, often these close-up details look distorted due to“visual noise.” This is – in part – due to a relatively high ISO. The ISO refers to a camera’s ability to deliver clean images based on how much light is captured during the process. A high ISO can cause too much light to filter and absorb which makes the granules of the photo look distorted. This end result is what professional photographers refer to as “visual noise.” With proper lighting and execution, the textures and tiny details of your product will look clean and accurate.
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the close-up image of a door. On the left, is what happens when a photograph is taken with too high of an ISO and thus, has excessive visual noise.
Graphics, typography, fonts, and colors are often overlooked. Sellers make the mistake of thinking these small details aren’t important in the buying experience and that is an inaccurate (and potentially costly) conclusion. Poor graphics, cheesy fonts, obnoxious colors, and misplacement of graphics will distract from the actual product. Worse, it may unintentionally make your product and brand seem “untrustworthy.” It’s similar to going to a used car dealership and being bombarded with balloons, neon signs, and insincere salesman in cheap suits. The car you’re looking to buy may be a great purchase, but if you are distracted by amateur sales tactics and visuals, it will devalue the car. The same is true with graphics in product photography. Not paying attention to how the graphics make a person “feel” is a huge oversight.
The Amazon listing below is an example of cheesy fonts combined with an overwhelming use of text boxes, colors, numbers, and arrows. A baby monitor is an expensive and important purchase, so the graphics used for such a product should reflect clean professionalism.
Preparation and styling for a photo shoot are just as important as the actual shoot. It can be a bit tedious, but it’s also really important to get right. Styling is the ability to convey a story by getting the appropriate models, backdrop, and props to showcase and add value to your product. Often, sellers make the mistake of choosing the wrong model or environment that juxtaposes the purpose of the item. Sellers largely want young, good-looking, in-shape people to show off their product. But that may not make sense for what you are selling. For example, if you sell life alert buttons for senior citizens, it makes zero sense to use a young model. Remember: when a customer is deciding whether or not to buy something, they usually need to relate to the images. A such, it’s imperative you use people and props that captivate and reflect your target audience.
Why yes, she IS a very attractive woman, but how many young people do you know who would wear cat-shaped reading glasses? Our guess is not many.
A significant chunk of a photographer’s time is spent retouching and editing images, post-production. Seemingly insignificant details like wrinkles in a shirt, dust particles on a cabinet, or a reflection in a wine glass are edited out to make the product look as pristine and clear as possible. Even if sellers overlook these details, that doesn’t mean their customers will. These things distract from the viewer’s overall shopping experience and that’s not a risk you want to take.
By doing a few simple retouches, the glasses in the after picture look much more pristine, clear, and of higher quality than the same set in the before picture.
Ultimately, a transaction is usually driven by emotion more than a necessity, even if the buyer isn’t consciously aware of it. When your product is competing on a forum with hundreds – if not thousands – of similar items, a customer will pick your product over another because they can connect to it. A customer is always picturing themselves using that item and they can rarely do that if they are seeing the same style photos, over and over again. Peruse the whiskey glass section on Amazon and you’ll see thousands of images of glassware, photographed at different angles with the same, white and black backdrops. While these images may give the viewer a clear indication of what the glass looks like, such imagery provokes no emotional attachment. A good listing will have a variety of images including hero shots, white background shots, shots with graphics, and customized/action shots. In doing so, this assortment of images is walking the viewer through a story and creating a connection.
The screenshot below is a listing on Amazon. While the structure of the glass is unique and enticing, the photographs lend no help in picturing oneself drinking from it or entertaining guests with it.
Ultimately, it is not necessary to outsource your product photography on Amazon if you are meticulous about avoiding the aforementioned mistakes. With access to photoshop, a great camera, and a great eye for photography, you certainly can create your own, stunning images. However, there is a reason professional photographers spent years studying their craft to get to where they are now. It’s certainly not an easy art form. And with the hyperfocus of imagery in advertising, using your own shots may be a gamble not worth taking.
For more information regarding outsourcing professional photography, click here.
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