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Running a Successful Online Business | The Power of Great Photography

Great product photography makes heads turn and will open many doors for your small business. It is probably the single most important element in communicating your brand so make sure you spend a lot of time perfecting it. A great picture not only will make your product shine but will also give you an edge over a competitor. Think about it! If pitching to a magazine editor, rest assure he/she will pick products with gorgeous/print ready photographs. Great photography will take you far…

Silhouette Lettepress Cards by Le Papier Studio | Photos: Edyta Szyszlo

But what makes great photographs?

Product photography goes beyond just having/using a nice SLR camera. You must spend time and money to learn not only how to take great pictures but how to develop a style for your photographs. Many photographers will tell you “practice makes perfect“. Don’t assume you will learn everything in a week – keep working at it and eventually you will get there.

If product photography isn’t your forte, do not despair (although I am a firm believer you can do it if you really work hard at it)! There are many talented photographers out there eager to work with you. Research for one with experience in product photography and a style that meets your needs. Photography students are a great option as they will work for less to build their portfolio.  An absolute must is to ask for references before you start to work with anyone.

Here are a few tips on achieving great photography:

1. Do not over – style!

Stationery by Rifle Paper Co. for Anthropology

Think less is more – remember that! For all my stationery friends,  a white background is great for photographing your various paper products and makes photo editing easy. Keep in mind that magazines love simple and plain backgrounds.

2. A good camera does matter but it’s not all you need!

With everyone using SLR cameras nowadays, great photography is a must for your presence online. Post nothing less than perfect on your blog, facebook (although you can certainly use your smart phone to snap those sneak peek photos). Pictures help you tell your story and communicate your brand better, so make them shine!

3. Use your photographs to tell a story

Two different ways to showcase a product : as part of a collection (here the framed silhouette art is shown in a wall gallery) as well as by itself. Each serves a different purpose | Photographs by Vana Chupp

If you were to explain to someone what is it that you do – it might take you some time and still you might not be able to clearly describe (been there, done that!). A great photograph can do the work for you.  Use it to tell the story of a product or a collection you’re about to launch. When I try to display a collection of products, I use life style photographs. This type of photography appeals to many people as it helps them better understand the story it portrays. For line sheets (wholesale catalogs) I try to photograph all products against a white background. This is great for photographs that will go on press kits. Magazine editors love white background images – makes working with them easier. One last (but certainly not least) type of photography I take is inspirational photography. I use it to connect with my customers – they love to see what inspires me and what goes behind the products/designs I produce.

4. Take lots of them

You can never have enough pictures when it comes to product photography. Use different scenarios and shoot in different ways. Don’t forget to take behind the scenes photos – people love to see how things go together – feel they’re part of your creative process and not just there to be sold products.

Here I show a sneak peek of a product launching soon. Not only does this build anticipation but allows me to get feedback | Photographs by Vana Chupp

I hope you found some of these tips useful for your own business. If you have questions, or would like to share what has worked for you, please do so in the comments area below. I look forward to reading them.