If you own an eCommerce store, the words ‘editorial photography’ might not immediately jump out at you. But would you believe us if we said there was something in it for you?
Though they may at times appear to be similar, editorial photography is different from commercial photography. The end goal of commercial photography is to sell something, usually a product or service.
In contrast, editorial photography weaves a narrative. It tells a story or provides a concept, often accompanying a text or article. Think newspapers, magazines, or a journalistic scoop.
What is editorial photography?
This type of photography has not traditionally gone hand-in-hand with eCommerce, but the tide is slowly turning. The pandemic ushered in an explosion of internet shopping, with more consumers looking for a virtual experience to replace the bricks-and-mortar alternative that was temporarily prohibited during lockdown.
That said, consumers don’t necessarily use online shops to purchase products and services today. Sometimes, they are simply reenacting the timeless art of window shopping, but online.
This is where editorial photography comes in. This style of photography allows you to embrace the online consumer in your narrative of choice as soon as they click on your page. With that in mind, there’s no doubt that it should be part of your wider strategy to create an outstanding eCommerce product page.
So, who’s it for? Well, luxury brands have the obvious advantage here. However, any company that has a particular story to tell can benefit too!
For those of you ready to make the jump, here’s our guide to what eCommerce store owners should know about editorial photography. Let’s dive in.
6 tips for using editorial photography in eCommerce
1. Have a clear brand identity
Before the cameras even see the light of day, you need to get a firm grip on what your brand identity is.
No doubt you have a pretty good idea yourself. After all, having a clear brand identity is one of those key types of business processes every organization needs.
But is your brand identity clearly written down in brand guidelines that are accessible to your whole team? If not, doing so can help you save time when onboarding new team members and ensure a consistent brand voice across all channels.
What’s more, if you’re hiring a photographer, strong brand values will give them and their team a clear vision for the shoot. In turn, they’ll be better suited to craft images that reflect your company’s ethos.
Bear in mind that hiring external teams can require lots of communication in order to nail the brief. So you’ll likely need several meetings in advance, whether that’s face-to-face or over the internet. And if you want to keep information confidential, using the most secure video conferencing software can give you peace of mind.
2. Know the story
Having considered your brand identity and values, what do you want this specific image to portray? In particular, what narrative do you want to weave as soon as the consumer sets their virtual foot on your page?
You may want to write this story down – and feel free to get as literal as you like. However, when it comes to the actual image itself, get conceptual.
Perhaps you’re selling luxury watches, and you want to conjure up a story of self-reliance, independence and adventure. Does this take you to the desert? Or perhaps a remote, rugged landscape?
If you’re struggling with the story, it can help to start with the simplest of things. What emotion do you want this image to evoke? What atmosphere do you want your website to create?
Remember, editorial photography is not about selling, it is about creating. Have fun with that and enjoy the conceptual ride!
3. Be budget-aware
Once you’ve decided on a narrative, it’s time for some practicalities.
Often, editorial photography can be constrained by costs. With team members, models, location, and props all to be accounted for, that fabled money tree doesn’t go far.
However, there is a silver lining to all of this: it allows you to get creative.
Limitations often require us to think outside of the box. But this is often where our most liberated and spontaneous thinking takes place. We can find incredible alternatives and fresh concepts when our thinking isn’t hemmed in by traditional limitations. So try and enjoy the liberation that financial constraints can bring.
Considering that editorial photography is more conceptual and narrative-driven, it means that you have much more freedom to explore here.
Nonetheless, it goes without saying that staying organized and open is the best way to cut costs (and allows you a little more financial wiggle room). There’s a variety of project management tools that can help you achieve this, including several Basecamp alternatives if you want a more holistic experience.
With services like Branded Stock™, you can save a great percentage of time and costs. Instead of planning a costly production, or going through the hassle of organizing a shoot in a different country, all you have to do is send out your products. Your products are shot remotely – with or without models – in your desired locations and according to your needs, following your brand guidelines. The best part? You only pay for the images you wish to use!
4. Use good lighting
Lighting is everything when it comes to photography.
Traditionally, the last hour before sunset and the first hour after sunrise provide the perfect glow for your editorial images. It’s not called golden hour for nothing. Plus, they can make shooting a breeze. The golden hour lighting can also contribute a magical feeling to your photoshoot, creating more authenticity for models and team members alike.
That being said, restricting your shoot to these two hours isn’t always feasible. If you need more flexibility, just be sure to schedule your photo shoot for a partly cloudy day. In addition, keep in mind that direct sunlight can be harsh and exaggerate shadows.
5. Consider the image placement
Knowing where an image will be on your website is a crucial piece of the puzzle. This could completely inform the direction of the photoshoot.
Will this image be on the landing page and the first thing that consumers see? Or is it tucked away in an ‘About Us’ section, less conspicuous but significant all the same?
For the image to have maximum impact, consider composition and arrangement when organizing the shoot. Deciding on whether you want horizontal or vertical images can also be of use here. This way, whoever is taking the photos understands exactly what they’re working with.
Keep in mind that the image might also be surrounded by text, which can inform the final piece. Is the image meant to complement the words around it, adding a delicate flourish to the text it envelops? Or is it the photo itself that stands front and center, intended to wow viewers without any explanation?
6. The final touches
No doubt the end product is a thing of beauty, an incredible image that encapsulates your brand and captivates your consumers. But nothing is beyond reproach in the industry of image.
A few touch-ups before the photograph makes its debut are crucial. Keep an eye out for things like sharpness, white balance, brightness, contrast, and color saturation.
There are various free photo editing software available if you feel confident giving this a go yourself – you might even be surprised at how easy it is. Once you’ve done this, you will have a bank of stunning editorial images to use across your eCommerce site, marketing channels, and even social media photos. Win-win!
Capture your brand story
Ecommerce stores can use editorial photography as an excellent tool to tell a story and effectively sell their products.
It’s the new secret weapon of eCommerce. From connecting with your audience to exploring creativity, the benefits are numerous. It can even help you increase the speed of a long sales cycle by increasing brand awareness and adding a flourish of professionalism that helps seal the deal.
We promise it’s worth the time and effort.
Grace Lau, Director of Growth Content – Dialpad
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, a cloud contact center platform with AI-powered cloud communication features for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content with some of her best advice featured on Ironhack and Jostle. Here is her LinkedIn.