What is the Purpose of Product Photography?

If you’ve landed on this post, you’re likely on the fence about the importance of product photography for your business. The answer is it’s highly likely that it is highly important. If you’re in a market with no competition and customer demand for your product is very high, then you’re in luck. You can possibly opt to not use product photography. However, almost all businesses are in markets with heavy competition where every opportunity to differentiate your brand is essential.

purpose of product photography
One Intent in Product Photography is to Make a Product Appear Appealing to a Would-Be Buyer

Product Photos Are the First Impression

Most consumers purchase products one of two ways. They go to a physical retail location and physically see the product before deciding to buy. Or, increasingly, they go on a website like Amazon.com and search for the product they want, relying on photos to help them decide to purchase or not.

Can you imagine trying to sell a physical product without showing it to a customer? It’s not likely to happen. A product photo or visual is the first impression you will make on a customer. In a real-world scenario, this is where quality will be important. In an online world, the quality of the product photography is first important.

Product Photography as a Differentiator

For brands that use low-quality product photography, they’re likely achieving little success. For brands that use high-quality product photography, they’re likely achieving high success. This is true in almost any industry.

Pick an industry, find its leader, search online for the imagery they use and compare for yourself. You’re very likely to find they have a lot of competition and they use their visual content as a differentiator. You’re also likely to see their closest competitors also have strong product photography.

Few products can be successful if, at their foundation, they are not a good product first. But brands can make it difficult for a good product to be successful if they don’t properly market it. And one of the foundations for proper marketing online is to use good product photography.

Product Photography Requirements

There are all types of advice online for how to go about doing product photography. It often starts with what equipment to use. Some of this advice states you don’t need anything fancy – that even your smartphone will do. Well, of course your smartphone will do. But what will it do?

Again, brands use the level of quality in their product photography as an opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors. After all, using a certain level of quality in your marketing implies a level of quality in your brand. So, if you opt to use a smartphone and window light for product photography and competing brands use a full-frame sensor camera with studio lighting, be prepared to be judged by customers for this difference. The difference is often glaring.

DIY Product Photography

So, there exists the advice that you don’t need fancy gear to do product photography. This is true. Anyone can take a picture of a product using a smartphone. But those that make an image with great equipment to differentiate their brand is one that is better setup for success

It’s likely that most startup brands are cash-strapped, and they turn to do-it-yourself product photography to save money. It’s easy to do this. In many cases, someone on the team likely has a friend with a low-end camera they can use. Or, they end up using their smartphone because they buy into the smartphone ads that try and claim smartphones have real commercial-grade cameras. They don’t.=

There are few successful brands that understand the spend on professional product photography is real and necessary. This is whether you build an internal photography team or outsource your product photography.

So, what is the purpose of product photography? To sell goods. Which goods usually sell the most? The ones that are most appealing. Which ones are most appealing? The ones that look the best. Draw your own conclusions from here.

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