Want to Increase Market Share? Elevate Your Photography


Everything is being automated—including photography. In case you missed it, there’s a new innovation for product photography: the all-in-one photo machine.

All-in-one photo machines are designed to make product photography and cataloging more efficient. You simply prepare and style the product, place it on the machine’s surface, and let the machine do the rest. No photographers needed. No need to fuss over lighting.

The innovation is all about efficiency; it’s designed to reduce the time it takes to get product images into a digital storefront, where they can start generating orders. That efficiency, however, is only valuable if you’re willing to jeopardize what makes your brand special.

Automated photography may not be worth it in the long run, and we’re not just saying this because we run a photography and production studio. The problem is that efficiency isn’t what most product photography needs—differentiation is.

Too many products look and behave the same in the post-consumer, digital marketplace. Nearly every shirt, lamp, rug, faucet, floor tile, chair, bed, desk, electronic device, potion, and elixir looks pretty similar to its competitor. Buyers can’t tell the difference between one product and all the other me-too, knockoff, copycat versions.

Photography within traditional channels, such as print advertising, is just as repetitive. Browse any commercial publication and you’ll see the same thing: products within the same category looking the same. For the buyer, this monotony makes it hard to know which wall covering, countertop, lighting fixture, office chair, or flooring choice is best.

Photography is one of the first encounters your audience will have with a new product.  It shapes their perception and their experience. If establishes the look and feel of the product and what makes it special. If you underplay its value, you’re wasting a huge opportunity.

When your photography fails to convey a distinctive look and feel, four problems arise:

  1. Buyers can’t distinguish any real product advantage, so they base their decisions on price.
  2. When you can’t show, you have to tell. This is how product ads get littered with copy. Advertisers desperately try to sway their audiences with long lists of boring features, benefits, and technical specs, which lessens the emotional connection with the viewer.
  3. The images are uninteresting, predictable, and largely overlooked, which means they are a waste of money.
  4. The product experience is shallow; the buyer feels very little connection to the product or to the entity that’s selling it to them. Nothing piques their interests or emotions.

Many marketers view changes to their photography as a risky prospect—but in reality, there is greater risk in doing it exactly they way everyone else does it. Your photography is more than a visual representation of your product, it’s an opportunity to create a distinctive brand experience: one that’s immersive, memorable, and emotionally distinctive.

When you shift how you photograph your brand, and carefully curate the images associated with your company, you gain a competitive advantage. Stop thinking about selling products, or even solving problems, and start thinking about creating an experience around your brand.

5 Ways to Improve Experiences and Increase Market Share through Photography

  1. Determine the primary characteristic or quality you want to associate with your brand. Once you’ve defined that characteristic, let it lead your photography. Is that word performance, luxury, innovation, sustainability, convenience, or flexibility? Whatever it is, it should be the guiding theme of your product photography.
  2. Commit to both brand and product photography, and make sure your product photography incorporates the feeling of larger brand photography. Take a close look at some of the great iconic brands, the ones with a cult following, such as Patagonia. Their most powerful ads create a feeling for the overall brand, they don’t focus too closely on the product.
  3. Spend some time on the detail shots. Buyers can’t touch, feel, taste, or smell the product from a flat image, so you have to help stimulate those senses with detailed shots that evoke a broader range of sensory experience.
  4. Make sure that the props, scenery, and lighting tell a story; that they engage the viewer in a broader experience.
  5. Hire a photography and production partner that can help push your brand and differentiate it. You don’t want a vendor or a freelancer who executes your command—you want a team that can come up with new ideas and execute them flawlessly. Look for someone who believes photography is key to the customer experience, and essential to brand differentiation.

In spite of the fact that visual content is faster and easier to process, most brands are still playing it safe when it comes to photography, doing exactly what their competitors do in the most predictable way possible. It’s time to change that.

Success begins by shifting your relationship to photography and understanding its power as visual content. For help creating a photographic presence that impacts market share and drives revenues, contact us at robin@vellumatlanta.com or call 404-977-0162.

A Firsthand Account of How to Turn An Idea into Reality

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In the Ted Talk Where Do Good Ideas Come From, Stephen Johnson explains that an idea isn’t a single thing or moment, it’s a process. An idea takes time to formulate—it depends on a network of things.

Johnson argues that the big breakthrough ideas don’t happen alone, in a vacuum, or even in the shower. They happen during the chaos of collaboration. The real breakthrough ideas originate in conversations and meetings that take place between several people. We might ascribe some “eureka” moment to the birth of an idea, but it’s really the synthesis of a lot of information and experience that leads to the breakthrough.

Like many design teams, we’re obsessed with ideas. We aren’t just interested in where ideas come from or what makes them unique, we’re also interested in how to bring them to life and why they matter to others. For us, design is about considering the whole idea process, including:

  • How to create a culture that repeatedly fosters good ideas
  • How to bring ideas out of the incubator and into the real world
  • How to adjust the idea, create the designs, and curate the resources needed to actualize the concepts
  • How to put the teams together that can turn the idea into a full-dimensional reality
  • How to ensure that the end result has the most positive impact on the greatest number of people

In our line of work, we often inherit the ideas and concepts of other agencies and designers. Clients come to us to because they want to bring an idea, concept, or design to life. As a result, we’ve gotten really good at looking at the process holistically and shifting our attention to how the design impacts resources, budgets, timelines, goals, brand perception, and audience engagement. Our experience has, in turn, sparked an idea within us.

What would it look like if we could make the design and idea process more fluid and more holistic? How could we help marketers and designers bring their ideas to light in a way that transforms audiences? How could we unite all the disparate ideas, thoughts, teams, and thinkers for the good of the customer, and the the good of the brand? These are the questions that started us thinking, talking, exploring, and—most importantly—acting.

Like you, we had an idea; and, being who we are, we had to see it through. We’re still working on some final touches, but within the next few weeks we’ll be ready to reveal where this idea led us. We’d love to share the end results with you. Follow us to find out how we took our ideas and made something out of them; something that will benefit marketers, makers, artists, and designers who want to bring new ideas to life.

Welcome to Our Blog!

The ever-present office reminder...

The ever-present office reminder…

Are you stuck in Suburbia? Are you feeling lamestream? If you have the need to know some amazing how-to’s, as well as some important do-not-do’s, and don’t mind being entertained in between with blog-worthy scoop on our day-to-day photo and design projects…this blog is for you!

So what is Vellum, you ask? Who are these people? Vellum is a boutique commercial design and photography studio in Atlanta consisting of a small team of creatives who really know their stuff. Concept-Create-Culminate is our modus operandi. Between our photography, environmental design, product design, and branding projects, we maintain a fast pace. Never stagnant, focused on the present with one eye peering into the future, Vellum never loses sight of its client’s vision and “keeps it fresh.”

As we begin this blog adventure, you will be getting to know the V Team, but before we get going at full speed, let me give you some quick background scoop on whom you’ll be hearing from.

Cindy Tjoflat, President–that’s me. I am the owner of Vellum, a.k.a. “mother.” Vellum was a result of many years working at medium to large corporate studios/agencies. Frustrated with the bureaucracy, the tendency to pigeonhole, and the layers of redundancy, I decided to stop whining and adopted the “just do it” mindset. And here we are. A mother of three and wife to a fellow small business owner, you can believe me when I say there’s never a dull moment. I’ll be blogging on the daily trials and tribulations of operating a small business in this “booming” economy, as well as balancing out the blog with some fun creative stuff.

Kristen Luther, Creative and Account Director. She is our talented and tenacious captain. Trained in the dark arts of account management, in conjunction with an uber-skilled eye, she is a design dynamo. Kristen will be blogging on our photography and some great ideas on what you can do to spice up your interior spaces. A mother of two stylish little gals, she will be sharing some really amazing style-based tips for kids, including interior room ideas as well as ways to keep the kiddos fashionable.

Michelle Parker, Manager Art and Creative. Classified as our secret weapon, she is a masterfully proficient designer who has a passion for trend-spotting and a fashionable flair. Michelle is mother of one handsome and exuberant boy, and adores what she does almost as much as her son. Michelle will be blogging about design and color trends, as well as what’s hot in the fashion arena. She will also be doing a lot of pinning on Pinterest, keeping our boards current and relevant.

James Pinkstone, Director, Studio and Operations. James (aka ‘Turbo Stingray’) has the pleasure of wearing many hats. The ever-adept multitasker, James keeps it real in the office. Whether he’s keeping the books straight, negotiating with model agencies, or just plain ‘ole herding cats (us creatives), he gets everything done seamlessly and on time. You can expect to hear some “tales from the office” from James and random fact or fiction blurbs, delivered James style. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

OK, here we go! Enjoy…