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By: Danette Mckay
The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” was never more true. In the digital photography era photos can be used in more types of media than they could have before. Not limited to paper prints they can be used on web sites, in emails, in cellular phones, projected in presentations and more. When selling products online photos are a powerful tool that you must use. Here is how.

Web sites that do not include photos are boring. For example imagine that you are looking to buy a new MP3 player. After searching for “mp3 players” you land on a web site that offers a new MP3 device. The site has a lot of information: specifications, user guides, capabilities descriptions and more but it does not have any photos of the device. You are most likely going to skip that site and move on to the next one.

This behavior is common to most consumers especially in this era of immediate gratification and impatience. Consumers do not want to spend time reading and figuring out what you are trying to sell. They want to see a photo and get a short snippet of what the main features of the product are and what the price is..

Just taking photos and adding them to a web site is not enough. Good photos can add a lot to a product image but at the same time bad photos can really damage that image. Here are some tips and concepts that can help taking good photos that in turn help selling products online:

Variation: Take more than one photo. Show the product from many angles: zoomed in and zoomed out and in different positions – for example if the product is a clamshell-phone you should show it both in the opened and closed positions.

Quality: The photo quality must be as high as possible. Don’t confuse quality with file size or resolution – we refer here to photographic quality: Follow the rules of good photography, use a tripod if long exposure is needed make sure the photo is not overexposed or underexposed and that it is not blurry.

Background: It is very important to shoot with the appropriate background. Usually you would stage a background that is in contrast with the product and that has no details or distracting objects that can catch the viewer’s attention. Make sure that the background is a matte color and that it does not reflect light. For example when taking a photo of a black computer mouse and keyboard use a white or light gray background.

Show details: Emphasize the product details. Every product has unique features or important details that you would like to draw the viewer’s attention to. The best way to do that is to take close-up photos of those details. You are not limited to physical details for example when selling an MP3 player that has long battery life take a close-up photo of the player’s LCD screen displaying the time left “13 playing hours left”. Such a photo conveys credibility and is much more powerful than the product battery life specifications text.

Support the product description: Take photos that support the textual description of the product. For example if the text claims that the MP3 player comes in three colors: black, silver and red show three photos of the player in those colors.

Convey physical attributes: If your product has unique physical attributes that you would like to emphasize take photos that convey them. For example if the product size is important use a known size object in order to help the viewer visualize the size – take a photo of the MP3 player next to a quarter coin to show how small the player is. It is much easier for viewers to visualize and understand measurements if they are put in reference with objects they know very well. This is much more powerful than specifying inches and ounces in a textual specification.

Keep file sizes small: Keep the photo file size small. When viewing a photo on a computer screen low resolution photos are more than enough. In most cases a VGA (640X480) picture is all that is needed and such a photo file size can be 50Kbytes or less. It is important to keep this in mind and not be tempted to put high resolution big photos files. Such big files load slowly on the viewer’s computer and in most cases the viewer will get frustrated from the slow response and would just skip to the next site.
Danette Mckay explains more about many subjects on digital pictures
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