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October, 2021
Rock Your Product Photoshoot: 6 Tips

Rock Your Product Photoshoot: 6 Tips

Maximize your product sales with a great photoshoot.

I recently helped a very well known photographer on a product photoshoot. I have directed my own product photoshoots with a full staff, drones, fancy lighting setups, on-site, off-site, and in studio for a variety of products including clothing, $250k horse trailers, saddles, bits and spurs, equine apparel, sporting goods, cowboy boots, and more. And I take some photos for clients as needed.

What shocked me is that this client and their marketing person did not maximize their investment for a product photoshoot. It made me wonder, are there others out there that are wasting money on pro photographers and staff, travel, etc., and not getting the best possible results because of being ill-prepared? Luckily myself and the photographer were able to help with some things, but we couldn’t fix everything that was overlooked by the client, and it definitely made our jobs more difficult.

  1. Get the BEST photographer for your product category. Just because someone is brilliant at shooting weddings or family portraits in a studio doesn’t mean they can handle photographing shiny horse trailers in natural light, action photos, or in our industry, HORSES that need to look appropriate for the customer to take you and your product seriously. Fashion photographers usually do NOT know how to pose horses or people with horses. Your product buyer will know. You need to look like you know what you’re doing for them to take you and your product seriously.
  2. Scout locations. Your photographer may have some favorite spots, but be sure they are available (public locations often need permits for commercial shoots and are busy, private places may want you to sign liability releases). Think about access with vehicles, trailers, and horses. Is there plenty of room to turn around? Is the ground good? Is someone going to get stuck? Is it a danger to horses? Are you going to need additional horse savvy people there to stay with horses or handle them? Locations often can get quite scary for the horses which equals dangerous for people.
  3. Bring “all the things.” When I run photoshoots, I have a bag of tricks. Clamps, safety pins, duct tape, fly spray for animals, bug spray for people. Sunglasses, chapstick, water, snacks, lint rollers. Extra rain gear. Also, if you have to carry things a long way, some sort of wagon or cart that folds up can be invaluable. A backpack? Racks for clothing or horse apparel to keep it out of the dirt. Coolers for water. A changing area/shade structure if on long shoots. Photoshoots are tiring!
  4. PRODUCT! Your marketing/brand manager and the shoot director should know these products in and out! Make your photog happy by being organized and having the shoot run quickly and orderly. The good light only lasts so long, horses and models only behave for so long. The faster you can get through each product and line out what shots you need, the better! They will appreciate it! Have a list of which products you have to shoot so nothing gets forgotten, and what shots you need of it. Full front? Features? Close-up? Does the shot need to be vertical or horizontal to fit a slot? Do you need space around the image for words? Do you need it to match up with one you did of another person or product? Is it for a website, catalog, etc? What new features are you calling out? Colors? Nothing is more frustrating than having one product that gets missed that isn’t going to match the rest of the campaign. And no one wants to sit around wasting light while you dig through the trunk to find a product.
  5. PREP YOUR PRODUCT. If your product is in a package, it needs to be taken out and ironed, steamed, pressed, etc. ahead of time. You can photoshop out wrinkles, usually, but why create more work and a potential “weird” look? Make sure the product is in great shape. We once steamed 40+ horse blankets and borrowed a cargo trailer, put a hanging bar the entire length, and hung them all to drive 5 hours to a shoot location. All the products stayed wrinkle-free! Shiny fabrics are especially difficult to keep smooth.
  6. Get models that are pros at what you want done. Not just any pretty person or fancy horse will fit your target, and often can distract from the product. Be sure to get releases from horse owners and models. And be sure that the product is going to fit properly.

In order to maximize your product photoshoot, be sure to know what shots you need, what the features are on the products that you need to showcase, and prep your products so they are shown in their best light. Hiring a great photographer and models that know their job and appeal to the target audience is important! A photo is probably worth more in product sales than anything else, so be sure to get the most out of your shoot!

Are All Your Eggs In One (Social Media) Basket?

Are All Your Eggs In One (Social Media) Basket?

It’s 2021, and due to world events and our addiction to our little cellular computer devices that are glued to our hands 24/7, we are more and more living on social media. LIVING ON IT. ADDICTED and getting ALL OUR NEWS, ALL OUR SHOPPING, and ALL OUR INTERACTION off of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, etc.

But the multiple glitches and outages need to teach us something. I’m fortunate that I have a mix of clients, some are old school and don’t do very much social media or digital marketing. Is that a missed opportunity? Yes and no. Because guess what? They didn’t really care or notice when Facebook and Instagram were down for 6 hours. They didn’t miss sales, they didn’t miss messages, they didn’t lose customer conversations or data. Their videos and customer lists don’t live on social media. They kept right on rolling.

I tell businesses to not rely on social media. YOU DON’T OWN IT. A famous quote says “don’t build your castle on rented land.” I have a good friend and client who lost her business (30k followers) and her personal FB accounts. For no reason, she works in a very benign industry, doesn’t post political posts, doesn’t post with animals or controversial topics/images, doesn’t post memes. Just poof! Can’t get it back. No reason given. Luckily that isn’t how she made her sales, but she’s out 10 years of information and candid pics from events, not to mention her family photos. That can happen to anyone! Try to get ahold of someone at Facebook to get your account back.

It is easy for a small business to get sucked into hosting everything online. They make it very easy! You can use your phone to quickly take pics and sell product and or post cute videos. But when those items only live on your social media, or your customer conversations only take place on messenger, you have a HUGE risk. Your business can literally be gone overnight with all your assets lost.

You NEED to own your own land. Build a website and keep it up to date with product, blogs, etc, host your photos and videos on other, less volatile “land.” Back up your assets to YOUR cloud or hard drive (or both). And do other types of marketing. Marketing existed before social media. Please take time to collect emails, communicate with customers offline, build email lists, attend or sponsor events, cultivate PR, editorial, print, build up your SEO and e-commerce on hosted sites that you own. These are all other tactics. Especially, take your customer data off-line. Or at least to a place that you have PAID and OWN. So if social media deletes you, you can pick up and not lose a beat or your entire pipeline of customers.

Don’t put all your eggs or sales in one basket. Relying on social media is a very risky place to be. I use integrated marketing tactics to build my customers a robust marketing strategy using many tactics that build upon each other. If one tactic fails, we have assets that we OWN, to build another funnel and communicate with our customers and potential customers in a variety of methods, each building upon the others. Social media is a fun and exciting place to market, but the party is built on quicksand.