Editor's View - November 2013

When The Image Is Everything
By Wanda Jankowski, Editor-in-Chief

Cameras are ubiquitous today. They are in cellphones, tablets and computers as well as being portable, sometimes credit-card sized, image-making devices in themselves. Taking pictures digitally is a snap—a touch of the finger on a button.

Taking pictures is so easy for us to do as consumers that as professionals in retail, sometimes the idea that good professional photography and photo styling are arts—and marketing necessities—may be underestimated.
With the rise of e-commerce, the photographed image of bed linens or towels or rugs online may be all that the consumer sees before making the decision to or not to purchase. What happens when product photography is executed like amateur consumer photo-taking is that enriching textures become invisible, colors are rendered inaccurately, and quality fabric and design is short-changed by the absence of professional lighting, styling and set design.

Don Davis, editor-in-chief, Internet Retailer, states, “A big reason many consumers do not shop online is because they can’t see an item in person, touch it, feel it and try it on. Photography and video are the main ways online retailers try to address that concern and give consumers the confidence to buy online.

“Over the past decade, as online shopping became more mainstream, online retailers have invested heavily in photography and video. You only need to look at the sites of major fashion brands—check out us.burberry.com, for example, the website of clothier Burberry,”Davis explains. “The photography is stunning. And Burberry and many other web retailers use video effectively.

“Technology vendors have responded by offering software that helps web retailers showcase their products more effectively. There are several services available, for example, that will take photos of a product from every angle as it spins on a turntable, enabling the retail website to give shoppers a 360-degree view of the product,” Davis says. “Similarly, it’s common now for retail websites to enable the shopper to zoom in to see details of a product, and to choose color swatches to see an item in a variety of colors.”

Television shopping channels have had an advantage in being able to show products from all angles and include video excerpts of the presentations online for future viewing.

As society transitions to more and more consumers in generations who have grown up as “second-hand sightseers,” using internet-connected cellphones, tablets and computers to examine objects, places, people—and merchandise—worldwide via what they see on-screen, the need for professional photos and video that capture the true nature of the product and brand, and promote their selling, will only increase.

Be prepared for a future that revolves more and more around “lights, cameras, sales!”

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