How Photos Can Make or Break Your Marketing Campaign

I’m trying to find a word other than revolution to describe what’s going on with the use of images online these days. It may sound overblown, but I can’t think of a better term. More than 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day, so in the five minutes it has taken me to write this, a million more were added–not to mention the charts, graphics, illustrations, doodles and other images that were pinned to Pinterest or posted to Instagram, Twitter, foursquare, Tumblr and Google+. The fundamental shift toward the visual was punctuated this year by Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of photo-sharing app Instagram.
Picture This
image credit: Shutterstock
So how do you put visual content to work for your company? Rather than relying on boring stock photos, the smartest businesses are employing images that help them evolve their brand and tell a visual story of who they are.
Marketing is all about communicating your value. Tapping into the visual zeitgeist is an excellent opportunity to create messaging for your business that is, well … nothing short of revolutionary. Here are some guidelines.

Why go Visual?

Online publisher Mashable and EyeTrackShop recently found that participants in a webcam eye-tracking study spent less time looking at Facebook wall posts and advertisements and more time looking at the cover photo on brands’ timelines. So this stuff matters. As every brand becomes a publisher charged with creating content to attract customers, the quality of that content becomes increasingly important. In other words, you have to produce stuff that helps you stand out.
Your own website or blog is an excellent place to start sharing images that craft your narrative. So are social media networks; some of the top platforms positioned for sharing rich visual stories are Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and, of course, Facebook, whose Timeline update this past spring gave all of us — including businesses — the ability to produce more aesthetically pleasing pages.

See Content Moments Everywhere.

Many organizations have photographers they contact in times of need — for events, product launches, etc. “That won’t suffice anymore,” says brand strategist Nick Westergaard of Brand Driven Social in Coralville, Iowa. “Photography can’t be an afterthought.”
The key is to see content moments everywhere. How about showing a behind-the-scenes peek of your warehouse before a big shipment, the way T-shirt company Threadless does? Or look at how the small U.K. company McKay Flooring gives itself a bigger digital footprint by using Pinterest, Instagram and its blog to display cool flooring materials such as leather, reclaimed bowling lanes and whiskey barrels.
This approach even works for business-to-business companies that sell inherently unphotogenic products: At MarketingProfs, we share photos on our Instagram feed of industry events attended by our staffers, or we give a peek into how the proverbial sausage is made by showing our webinar training videos from our point of view, documentary-style.
You have a great fount of inspiration right in front of you, if only you train your eye to look for it. Take active photos that show real customers or staffers doing real things — as opposed to staged shots or logos.

Show How Your Product Lives in the World.

Consider how Ben & Jerry’s integrates images on Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook to showcase the beauty of doing business in Vermont. The ice cream maker also uses Instagram to recognize customers by calling out a favorite pic on “fan photo Friday.”

Even old-school General Electric has used online photo sharing to create excitement and build momentum. Last year, GE encouraged social media users to take photos inspired by the company’s missions of Moving, Curing, Powering and Building. The fan with the best photo was awarded a trip to the U.K. that included a chance to photograph a world-class jet engine facility.

Embrace Images as Brand Art.

For a lot of businesses, content equals text. But photographs and other visual materials should be staples of your marketing mix. Share your company’s history on Facebook Timeline with visuals from your archives, for example. Or better yet: Populate your e-mails, blog, website and marketing collateral with your own images. To capture attention and entice engagement and click-throughs, you need to have bold, unique visuals in your corner.

Guide to Using Pinterest for Business

When it comes to businesses using social media, Facebook appears to be the first choice, but actually, Pinterest is where the spending happens – out of Pinterest, Facebook and LinkedIn, Pinterest users purchase the most items, according to Start Ranking Now, an SEO services provider. Now, an infographic reveals just how to use Pinterest to boost business.
The infographic by marketing technology solutions provider SyneCore Technologies on outlines how to make Pinterest work for your business, and well as provides tips on image optimisation, what to pin, and when to pin.

Four Steps Of Product Photography – Improve Your E-Commerce Design With Brilliant Product Photos

1. Prepare Product

To take quality photographs, the complexity and time required will depend greatly on the type of product you’re shooting. Some of the easiest products to photograph are solid objects such as cups and toys; you may just have to give them a good polish before shooting.
Clothing, textiles and other items that can bend, stretch and wrinkle are much harder to photograph and could require hours of ironing and arranging to get a perfect result. Details, like whether a shirt collar is straight, will determine whether the photographs look like they were shot in a serious studio or by an amateur with a point-and-shoot camera.
Whatever the product, inspect it carefully for tears, stains, chips and other imperfections before beginning.

2. Light

To get a great-looking photo, lighting is crucial. Fortunately, with many products, you don’t need much equipment to get a well-lit balanced exposure. For objects the size of a digital camera or smaller, you can use an EZcube® light tent with two small 30-watt bulbs on either side. For larger items, such as clothing, two 60-watt soft boxes on either side of the product should suffice. Also consider using a light reflector to get rid of any shadows and obvious highlights.

EZcube: TableTop Studio

Kuhl Lite: TableTop Studio

3. Set Your Camera

Watch out for noticeable light reflections on shiny surfaces. Even though most product photos look very staged, you don’t want yours to look too artificial.
Obviously, you’ll need a camera to take pictures, so make sure you have one. It doesn’t have to be the best or most expensive on the market, but it should at least have manual focus and shutter and aperture controls. These are all standard on most SLR cameras.
Once you’ve arranged the product and lighting equipment, take a few test shots until you get an exposure that isn’t too bright or too dark. Keep track of the shutter speed and aperture settings of your best photos, and use them again in future to maintain consistency. If you aren’t sure how things like shutter speed, aperture and lens focal length affect images, you might want to do some basic research.
If you understand the basics of photography but your photos still don’t look quite right, don’t worry, because you may have to change several in-camera settings before getting the kind of shots you want.
If your pictures look soft or don’t enlarge well, make sure the ISO setting on your camera is as low as possible. The ISO setting affects the light sensitivity of a camera’s photo sensor. By setting yours to 100 or 200, you’ll get a higher-resolution shot with less grain and pixellation. While you’re at it, change the camera’s image size to the highest possible setting. Most cameras default to a medium-sized resolution (around 1500 x 850 pixels).
Next, make sure the white balance is set to handle the kind of light you’re working in. Most cameras have modes for incandescent, fluorescent, direct sunlight and cloudy environments, and you should adjust your camera’s white balance according to these different conditions. If the white balance controls are off, your images might either look too bright or have a sickly yellow cast, especially if your product is white.
Color control settings are important to consider as well. Most digital cameras allow you to select several degrees of color saturation, ranging from muted to normal to vibrant. If your product is already colorful (flowers, for example), a less saturated setting would probably work better. This is especially true with red, which many digital cameras (even high-end ones) have difficulty processing.
Finally, make sure the image format is appropriate. If you’re just putting the photos online, high-resolution JPEGs are probably fine. RAW files, on the other hand, carry more data because they aren’t compressed like JPEG or TIFF files, and they carry fewer digital artifacts; but they take up more space and require special codices and converters to be viewed and edited. Some cameras have a “RAW + high-res JPEG” setting, which gives you both compressed and uncompressed versions of an image. Do a little research on your camera when deciding which format to use, because some models are automatically set to give a softer focus in JPEG mode.

4. Edit the Photos

This is the final and perhaps most important step of product photography. This is when you really take your photos to the next level and make them pop. If you’ve gotten the lighting right and your camera properly configured, then you are well on your way to great photos. Factors such as unwanted colors and objects that couldn’t be removed during the shoot, though, will require some adjustment.
Surrounding a product in white space is common practice. This makes the photo convenient to use on websites and in catalogs because it won’t clash with other elements. To make a product float freely in white space, you have to remove the background with masking in your photo editing program. As common as it is, it is often done poorly, making an otherwise fine photo look amateurish. Masking properly takes time, especially when you are not working with straight lines. Photoshop CS4 has a great “Refine edge” tool that makes it much easier to correct crooked lines.
Many people also use a variety of artistic effects in Photoshop and other bitmap editors to subtly manipulate their photos. One such effect is the soft or selective focus, which, as the name implies, softens a portion of the photo while leaving other areas sharp. This is great for creating the illusion of depth and size, and the trick is often used for pictures of food, jewelry and watches (see the examples above). Depending on your lens, you can get a similar in-camera effect by setting the aperture low and zooming in on the product from a distance.
Also, depending on the product and the look you’re aiming for, you could also experiment with the perspective controls in Photoshop. Most people assume this tool is only good for tall buildings and scenes with noticeable vanishing points, but you can also use it to make geometric objects such as tables and desks appear overpowering, especially when photographed from a low angle.

A Basic Guide To Photo Editing

Back in the dark ages, when photos were shot on film, editing was pretty much left to the professionals and extreme enthusiasts; who had a lot of time, skill and patience. However, in our day and age, with the development of digital cameras and accessible, easy-to-use editing software, anyone with a love for photography and a standard PC can edit a photograph. There’s no doubt however that for real expert results, editing as in history should be left to the professionals. However, if you’re simply looking to correct and improve the aesthetics of your photographs, look no further.

Software Everywhere!

If you’ve already started looking for image editing software, you’ll be well aware of the enormous amounts of choice. There are a vast number of different programmes on the market that serve different purposes and, obviously, range quite drastically in price. If it is just a hobby or a quick task to improve some pictures you want to frame, investing a lot of money into a programme isn’t recommended. However, if you wish to experiment with photography quite extensively, it may be worth the investment.


Photoshop in Photography

If money is no object and you’re looking for a more professional, reliable programme, Adobe Photoshop is probably your best bet. This is the top end of photo editing software and will allow you to perform almost every action or photo editing technique, at cost.
Of course it’s rare that if photography is just a hobby and you’re looking to quickly improve the aesthetics of your pictures, you’ll have the money to invest in such expensive software so there are alternatives. For example, Picasa is a downloadable image organiser from Google, which offers the basic elements of photo editing. You won’t be able to achieve the results you would in Adobe Photoshop, but you can still correct the simple aesthetics of your pictures- Red Eye removal, colour adjustment, cropping and so forth. Another alternative is which is a free online image editor offering loads of tools. These are just two examples and I’m sure with some basic research, you can find a programme that’s affordable and fitting. After all, there are so many!


Whether it’s half of the photograph or a fraction of a corner, cropping can be a valuable tool for improving the composition and the general aesthetics of an image. Cropping is executed with the crop tool; which should be available in most photo editing software packages and once selected, it will give you the option to highlight or select an area of the photo to keep and delete the surrounding area. The objective isn’t to drastically change the photo but rather improve it compositionally; so don’t go and crop half the photograph!


By cropping a small section as demonstrated above, you can improve the compositional and aesthetic value of the picture; resulting in a more presentable and professional photograph.

By cropping larger sections of the photograph as demonstrated above, it can begin to look unrealistic
and lose compositional and aesthetic value. Remember, only crop little sections if necessary!


Brightness And Contrast

On a simpler note we have changing the brightness and contrast of your photo. Both of these settings should be available, quite visibly, in your editing software package and are fairly easy to use. Just play around with the settings until you come to a point that you feel improves the image. Again, this is quite a valuable tool for improving your photos as it can change a dull, under exposed photo in to a bright, high impact one.

Hue, Saturation, Levels and Curves

These manual methods of colour correction will ensure the colours and their presence, in your photographs, are just right. With Hue, you can change the colour of the picture entirely whilst Saturation allows you to intensify the original colour or, if used with Hue, the new colour. Whilst both of these tools are useful and fun to play around with, some amount of care should be taken when deciding upon the amount of Hue and Saturation used as if they’re overused, the colours and their presence become unnatural.
Again, both of these tools should be available, quite visibly, in your editing software.With Adobe Photoshop for example, both of these settings are available in Image>Image Adjustments.
Now for the more advanced; Levels and Curves. Levels allow you to adjust the amount of the 3 primary colours individually, and curves go one step further by allowing you to adjust the shadows and highlights too. These are both pretty complex tools but if you wish to experiment and play around, there should be no problem. Remember, most of the process involves trial and error!

The image on the right is the original and the image on the left is edited with the hue turned to green and the saturation turned down. As you can see, if they’re used in moderation, you can give your photographs a pleasant new aesthetical look.

Black And White

Most people now will have the means to take photographs in black and white. Whether it’s on a smart phone or a digital camera, you can usually take a black and white photograph. However, shooting in black and white does present problems. If you take a colour photo you can always change the photo to black and white in post production but if you take a black and white photo, the option to add colour back in is virtually non-existent. Therefore your best bet is to change your colour photos to black and white in post-production rather than the contrary. Using Adobe Photoshop as an example, there are two relatively straightforward methods of which achieve black and white transformation. You can change the Grayscale by selecting Image > Mode > Grayscale. Or, you can use the Hue/Saturation tool, as mentioned earlier, and move the arrow under Saturation all the way to left, which removes any colour from the image. If you wish to go a step further, you can use the levels and Curves tool and intensify the shadows; making the black and white image sharper.

E-Commerce Survival Guide for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

If you’re not getting ready, you should be. It’s (almost) the most wonderful time of the year for e-commerce retailers, and making the most of the madness requires proper planning.

Of course, deciding what to focus on can be a challenge in itself. Which platforms should you be thinking about? How much volume should you expect? Where should you be targeting your marketing spend?
To help you successfully strategize, we’ve sorted through data from last holiday season and highlighted five key trends every e-commerce retailer should be thinking about this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Be Prepared for a Lot of Volume
According, to 2013 data, Black Friday online sales were up 19% last year compared with 2012, and Cyber Monday online sales grew by 20.6 %.
This huge jump came off an already sizeable amount of spend, meaning that the e-commerce volume was mind-boggling in 2013. On Black Friday alone last year, comScore estimates consumers spent nearly $1.2 billion online.
What should you expect this year? Deloitte is forecasting a 4% to 4.5% increase in holiday spending compared with 2013. That number is for both offline and online, and it’s very likely that e-commerce could account for the lion’s share of growth.

 So, what does that mean? Be prepared for the possibility of another very big jump in e-commerce volume (perhaps even double digits) this year.
2. Mobile is Huge (and Nuanced)
You’ve probably heard this over and over (and over) recently, but it bears repeating: mobile has transformed e-commerce. This is true across all types of online shopping, and holiday spend is no different.
On Black Friday last year, mobile accounted for 39.7% of all online traffic to e-commerce retailers, increasing by 34% over Black Friday 2012. That share is expected to be even larger this season, and should cross the 50% threshold soon.
When thinking about targeting this ever-growing group of mobile shoppers, make sure to keep in mind that consumers on various platforms and devices behave in very different ways.
For example, while Android has a significant mobile OS market share, Custora estimates that 83% of mobile orders during last year’s holiday season were made on Apple iPhones or iPads.
Another example of nuanced mobile behavior is the difference between how smartphone and tablet shoppers use their devices. As IBM put it in a round up of 2013 holiday data: “Smartphones browse, tablets buy.”
This trend can be seen in the numbers—smartphones accounted for a larger share of holiday traffic to e-commerce sites last year but tablets accounted for more sales.
3. Black Friday and Cyber Monday Behavior Differs
For many Americans, Black Friday is a day off, whereas Cyber Monday is a workday. That simple fact has a big impact on e-commerce shopping behavior.
This can be seen most clearly when looking at volume on each day. IBM’s benchmarking data for 2013 shows that Black Friday sales on e-commerce sites peaked at 9:05 AM PST and then steadily declined throughout the day.
Conversely, on Cyber Monday, volume ramped up around 8:00 AM PST, stayed steady during daytime hours, and then jumped even higher in the evening.
Why is this important? Because it means tactics need to be tweaked on each day to account for different engagement patterns.
4. Don’t Neglect Established Digital Channels
Each year it seems like there is a fresh crop of social media networks and digital platforms to worry about.
These newbies are important—and should absolutely be experimented with—but when it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, make sure to pay plenty of attention to the established digital channels. They may not be as sexy, but they’ve been proven to drive sales.
In particular, email and search remain essential to e-commerce engagement. Custora estimates that 26% of online orders during the 2013 holiday season originated from organic search, 15% from paid search, and 16% from email. Put another way: more than 50% of all e-commerce volume came from these two digital workhorses alone.
5. You’ve Got Competition
Finally, as you start craft your Black Friday and Cyber Monday plan, keep this mind: consumers are being bombarded with e-commerce messages during this time.
As an example, IBM found that retailers sent 37% more mobile push notifications during the two-day period of Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. Similar increases in volume apply across all other channels, including email and social media.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t compete, but it does highlight the fact that your messaging must be both engaging and well timed to break through the noise.
Of course, if you do succeed in standing out, the payoff can be huge: this Black Friday and Cyber Monday are very likely to break last year’s e-commerce traffic and sales records. That’s some holiday cheer, indeed.

The Power of Images in Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing has evolved significantly over the past few years, and staying up-to-date on trends is crucial for success. One of the biggest trends is image-centric marketing rather than traditional text-based. According to Trend Reports, between 65 and 85 percent of people describe themselves as visual learners.

This means they digest information more easily by viewing an image instead of reading text. Understanding this phenomenon can help optimize your social media marketing campaign and give you an edge over competitors who mainly publish written content.
Let’s discuss the benefits of images in further detail, how pictures can be implemented in your social media marketing campaign, and the top image-based social media sites.

Capture the Audience’s Attention

Most people have a limited attention span. In an information age where data can quickly become overwhelming, people have to pick and choose among plenty of content options, all begging for their attention. This has resulted in many people skimming through content to extract what they’re looking for.
When there’s a long winded post with nothing but text, it can turn many visitors off because they simply don’t have time to read through it. However, incorporating images is a natural way to grab attention. It’s the perfect motivating force to encourage visitors to stick around and explore content in greater detail.

Drive the Point Home 

Although quality written text can be persuasive, some well-placed images can take it one step further.
Creating breaks between text gives people time to stop and think about points and concepts. This is especially important when attempting to explain how a product works, an app, step-by-step directions, etc. The end result should be helping readers achieve a thorough understanding.

Add a Splash of Color


The right pictures are also an easy way provide an element of contrast. Line after line of text quickly becomes boring. Images can solve this problem by making posts more vibrant and visually stimulating. They can take a somewhat boring post and spice it up.

Improve SEO

Since practicing effective SEO tactics and strategies is important for the health of your online marketing initiative, every trick you implement is helpful. A simple way to get an SEO boost is by adding a few pictures to each post along with relevant alt and meta tags.
This includes the image file name, as well as the Title, Alt and description tags. Properly labeling these tags will help Google index your content and figure out how relevant and useful it is. When posting images to social media sites, take advantage of whatever tagging system they offer and include hashtags when possible.
Now that we’ve discussed the advantages of images, let’s consider some of the top social media sites that are image-focused.


This relatively-new network basically came out of nowhere to claim a legitimate portion of the social media landscape. A large part of Pinterest’s success is due to its simplicity and aesthetic appeal. Rather than relying on an abundance of text, it focuses on a clean, light colored background with pins that feature images and videos.
Unlike other major social media sites like Facebook and Twitter with a lot of interaction, users are limited to “repins,” “likes” and brief comments. Consequently, Pinterest mainly revolves around the exchange of ideas via visual content.
If you’re not already on this network, create a profile and launch a social media campaign. It’s one of the easiest sites to learn, and the number of users is constantly increasing. You simply create boards, which are separated into categories. Then, relevant images or videos are pinned onto each board accordingly.
This is followed by a brief description to help users and search engines find content. Placing content from other pinners onto boards is easy, which makes it perfect for making connections with like-minded people. The best part is the viral quality that Pinterest offers. More followers results in a higher potential for content to be repinned. In turn, this can help increase exposure with minimal effort.
While it’s possible to reach most demographics through Pinterest, roughly 70 percent of users are female. This makes Pinterest excellent for businesses in niches like home décor, fashion, food industry and arts and crafts.


Instagram has quickly become a popular way for individuals and businesses to share pictures with their audience. According to Free World Media, Instagram is growing faster than both Twitter and Facebook originally did. While it doesn’t have the same user volume as these behemoths at the moment, this is likely to change in the future.
That’s why it’s smart to get on board now and build a presence before competitors do. Although it was originally accessible only on iPhones and Androids, it can now be used on the web as well.
The concept is creative and fun, with a high level of interaction between companies and consumers. It’s also the perfect tool for building rapport with consumers by giving them a firsthand look into a company and its employees. For example, some businesses take pictures of employees at the office or at events. This can help a business come across as being more personable and not just some faceless corporate entity.
You can also encourage consumers to take pictures of themselves using a product or a service in action. Including consumers in a marketing campaign is a great way to establish loyalty and build brand ambassadors who will gladly spread the word. This makes it an ideal tool for branding even on a small budget. Some major companies


Tumblr  (acquired by Yahoo! for $ 1.1bn)  is a microblogging site that’s primarily used by artists and creative-minded people. Although it’s possible to create a variety of content, a large percentage is image based. Adding pictures is easy and can be done by posting images from the web or by re-blogging from Tumblr itself. It has a simple interface and a variety of free themes. It also has a hip feel and is very popular among young people who are 25 and under.
Regardless of the industry, Tumblr is an effective way to showcase a product or service. Some businesses like the NBA use it to give their audience a behind-the-scenes perspective that allows them to connect on a deeper level. For instance, they show pictures of teams in the locker room to give fans a feel for players’ personalities.
Restaurant owners can showcase dishes, appetizers and desserts they serve to entice customers. Fashion designers can feature pictures of models and customers wearing their clothing. For businesses looking to reach a young audience, this network can be a gold mine.
Due to the ease of sharing, it’s possible to connect with relevant consumers and network with other businesses. Tagging is convenient, so optimizing content for SEO is a snap. The minimalist layout also makes it easy to learn and navigation is highly intuitive.
With this being the platform of choice for many trendsetters, it’s also helpful for staying up-to-date on what’s trending. Since Tumblr isn’t completely saturated with competition and still off the radar of many marketers, it’s a great way to give your brand a boost.

Image File Types Explained

I’ve been doing this ‘graphic/design thing’ for the last 11 years (OMG, has it really been that long?! Seems like only yesterday I was that poor student drinking pints of Guinness at lunchtime!) and all these acronyms are part of my every day vocab. But I realise that it can be MEGA confusing to everyone else. So let me explain…
Firstly, image file types fall into 2 categories:
RASTER (also commonly called bitmaps)

 These are files that are made up of a grid of lots and lots of little dots (pixels) of varying colour or shade.

These files use mathematically calculated paths and anchor points to create the image.
Wait a minute… a picture paints 1,000 words, right?

Flower Photography

Flowers are without a doubt one of the most photographed subjects. It isn’t hard to see why – we are surrounded by them, and their wide range of colours, shapes, and sizes mean that you rarely have to venture far before you find one that catches your eye.
Unfortunately, many people make fundamental errors when photographing flowers. This can result in shots that lack “punch”, appearing much less interesting and vibrant than they did in person.
There are several principles that you can follow to give your flower photos more impact, capturing lots of detail and making them engaging to the viewer. By learning these guidelines, you’ll be able to spot an underwhelming photo before you capture it, and reframe the shot in a more interesting way.

Choose Your Subject

Decide what the subject of your photo is going to be – is it a single flower, a bunch, or a whole field? You will usually get a more interesting photo by shooting a single flower, or a few flowers – larger amounts tend to end up looking cluttered, with no real focal point.

Close up of a purple flower
Choose the most interesting aspect of your subject and zoom right in to capture plenty of detail. Image by Auntie P.
What is it about your flower that interests you most? It might be the head of the flower, individual petals, the leaves or something else entirely. Choose your viewpoint and composition based on this, getting in nice and close.
Don’t be afraid to crop the edges off the subject; doing so often allows you to focus the viewer’s attention even more closely on the real area of interest.
Look around to see if you can include anything else in your shot to add interest. When photographing an individual flower this might be something like a bee or spider; when shooting on a larger scale, such as an entire field, there might be an interesting building or piece of farmland machinery you can include.

Colour is Everything

In flower photography, colour is one of the most important things to include. A rich, vibrant shot will look infinitely better than one which is dull and dreary. If shooting outside, choose a day with plenty of bright, natural sunlight to really bring out the colours in your flowers.

Vibrant yellow rose
Nothing brings out the vibrant colours of a flower like bright, natural sunlight. Image by SantiMB.
Texture and detail can turn a good photo into a great one. Flowers have both in spades, but you can often enhance them by lighting your flower from the side, so that the subtle shadows really pick out the surface details.

Get Set Up

Focusing is crucial to a good flower photograph – if your shot is even slightly out of focus it will carry significantly less impact. Switch your camera to manual focusing mode and really take the time to get your flower as sharp as possible. If your camera doesn’t offer manual focusing, use macro mode so that you can keep your flower in focus even at very close range.

Himalayan Blue Poppy
Sharp focusing and a narrow depth of field will give your photograph maximum impact. Image by Evan Leeson.
Open your aperture wide to throw the background out of focus. This will draw the attention towards the flower, creating a more engaging, intimate photo.
Mounting your camera on a tripod is a must when shooting at such close range and with a narrow depth of field – even slight movements can mess up your careful preparations. With the wind blowing your flower about, the last thing you need is for your camera to be moving too.
Be mindful of shadows from your equipment or your body ruining your photo. Choose your viewpoint carefully and be aware of the sun’s movement if you plan on staying in the same place for a long time.

Wait. Then Wait Some More

Patience is a virtue when it comes to flower photography. Be prepared to spend a lot of time lying on the floor, finger poised on the shutter button, just waiting for your flower to stop swaying about long enough for you to photograph it. On mild days you hopefully won’t have to wait too long, but sometimes the wind can be a real problem.

Lots of purple flowers viewed from below

Have patience and you’ll eventually be rewarded. Image by Jim.
To help keep your flower still you may want to set up a makeshift shelter using an umbrella, or get a friend to sit in the wind’s path. Alternatively try holding the flower’s stem to stop the shaking – just be sure to keep your hand and shadow out of the shot!

It’s All About the Images

Some say image is everything, and that’s especially true on the Internet where the shift to visual optimization is playing an increasingly important role in the recent phenomenon of photo marketing. MDG Advertising developed an insightful infographic that illustrates the influence of images on a company’s business, branding, search, and social media efforts. For insight on optimizing images for content and commerce, along with advice on image optimization techniques, take a look at the following infographic to see why images can help make success a snap.

First, the infographic details the power of Pinterest whose popularity has propelled the use of high-quality images in sharable online content. It also explains how Facebook’s greater focus on images has led the social media giant to switch to Timeline and acquire photo startup Instagram.
Next, the impact of images on articles is examined since content featuring compelling images averages 94 percent more total views than those without. It also illustrates how articles featuring news, political, and sports content appear to benefit the most from relevant images.
In regard to press materials, the infographic shows that total online views are directly related to the number of multimedia elements within. A larger number of photos, videos, and other media accompanying press releases result in higher views.
Local search is also discovering the positive impact of images, with 60 percent of consumers more inclined to select a business with images in its local listing. This illustrates the strong relationship between image and photo SEO, which businesses can no longer afford to ignore as more and more companies realize the attention-grabbing power of images in local search.
The infographic goes on to explain why high-quality images are essential to e-commerce. Clear, detailed images are deemed to be very important by 67 percent of consumers and carry even more weight than the product information, full description, and customer ratings.
Finally, the correlation between images and social media is examined and it’s no surprise that posts with photos have higher levels of social engagement than other types of posts. Advice on optimizing images for social media is also featured.

It's all about images [Infographic]

Product Image Best Practices, Part 3

In Part 1 of Product Image Best Practices we looked at ways to ensure good product image quality. In Part 2 of Product Image Best Practices we looked at advantages and disadvantages to presenting images in various ways. Here in Part 3 we’ll examine exceptions to the rules. We’ll also touch upon the reasons product images can have such a big impact on conversion.

Product Image Rules… and Exceptions

In the first two parts of this article we looked at different ways to present images, and covered common-sense rules you can apply to determine which approach is best for you. The approaches I outlined probably apply to the vast majority of e-commerce websites but there are some notable exceptions.
Remember that one of the goals in presenting product images is to give users a sense that’s similar to seeing and/or touching an actual product. There are a few situations where this approach simply doesn’t make sense, or needs to be modified.
  • For exceptionally large items, offer many views. Very large items like houses and cars pose a unique problem. They’re large enough that there are many views and angles that may be of interest to users. But there’s no way to know which views are most important to each individual user. So for large items usually the best approach is to err on the side of showing many different views as well as overview images that depict most or all of the object. For example online real estate listings often show multiple exterior and interior images of a property for sale, and in some cases they also show a view from the street and/or nearby landmarks. Showing many views enables prospective buyers to see not only the product (the house/property) but also its context (the neighborhood/area). Similarly, car companies have taken to offering multiple sets of photos to show off their cars – interior and exterior – and sometimes also 360-degree “virtual reality” views that enable users to spin a virtual car around and see it from almost any angle.

  • For electronic goods, show realistic simulated images. Some items like software and e-books may not exist in the physical world at all. Two common examples are software that’s download-only and e-books books that aren’t published in a physical format. In order to present an “image” of such an item it becomes necessary to make one up. This example is an e-book product image (amusingly, an e-book about writing e-books):

A note of caution: One problem with creating simulated e-book product images is that they can make relatively short books appear to be quite lengthy. Customers who buy what looks like a book that’s many hundreds of pages in length and find that it’s much shorter might feel mislead by such images. Consider this example, (I’ve intentionally blurred the cover art):
At first glance I’d say this e-book looks like it ought to be least 150-200 pages. In fact its length is around 30 pages. To be fair this particular e-book is given away for free, but I’ve also seen similar product images for e-books that weren’t free and for which there was a similar discrepancy between how the product image looked and what was actually being sold.
There’s some gray area here but I’d argue that the practice of depicting an electronic product in a way that makes it appear more (or bigger) than it will probably be seen by some users as false advertising. Instead, I suggest either showing the cover art only, or depicting the book an a form that’s roughly representative of what it would look like if it were available in a printed format.
You’ll notice that most leading e-book sellers like Amazon and show only the flat cover art for their e-book product images. They don’t show a “simulated book” view like the examples above. This avoids the whole problem of misrepresenting a book’s length.
Now let’s look at a more positive example. A good example of “what you see is what you get” can be seen on the product pages of music production software company Audio Damage. Most of the product images on the Audio Damage website are screen shots of the actual software interface. So even though they’re selling a downloaded product there’s still a direct correlation between what users see on the website and what they’re purchasing. No unpleasant surprises here.

How Product Images Affect Conversion

Finally let’s take a few moments to review the importance of product images in the overall conversion process.
Good product images are important to e-commerce and conversion because they:
  • Bridge the gap between the physical world and online world, giving users a greater sense of connection to the products they’re evaluating.
  • Help establish credibility. Of course there are many other aspects to credibility, and I’ll cover those in a separate article. But clear and easily accessible product images are important to giving users a sense that they’re dealing with a legitimate and trustworthy e-commerce business.
  • Address fundamental customer questions and concerns, like “Is this the right one?”, “Does this come in the color I want?”, “What would this look like up close?” and so on.
  • Provide a competitive advantage. In a crowded e-commerce landscape offering high quality images (and plenty of them) helps users evaluate products and decide to buy.
I hope you’ve found this article to be helpful and informative, and I encourage you to apply these ideas to your own website and make your product images as vivid, helpful and informative as they can be.