A picture is worth 1000 words

04/20/2009 | Michael Martinelli Jr.


I hate online shopping with sites that have poor quality pictures or none at all. I'm not sure there is anything worse. If I'm looking to purchase something online and I come across a site with no pictures, I instantly go elsewhere even if the price is right. Most people are the same way; they want to SEE what they are buying even if they know exactly what it looks like - we all know A PICTURE IS WORTH 1000 WORDS!

When setting up your catalog, brochure, website or online auction (the biggest pictureless culprits are Ebay auctions) always make sure to have quality images, and many of them. Even if it's a well known product, pictures show credibility. They give people a sense of relief and security. Especially for an online auction, terrible pictures give the sense that the seller is trying to hide something. Pictures also let the customer know EXACTLY what they are looking at.

For example, perhaps, you're selling 2 items that are very similar. If the visitor clicks the wrong description by accident, the picture will certainly show them what they are looking at and they can navigate accordingly. However, if there is no picture they might go ahead and order it, only to be disappointed in the end. A mistake on their end no doubt but a hassle for both. High quality pictures will alleviate mistakes like this and be much better for business in the long run.

Tips for great photographs:

  • Light Light Light - the most important thing about a picture is light. With the right light taking great pictures is easy. Of course the best light is natural sun light. If possible take your pictures outside on a nice smooth white sheet.
  • For indoor photos try to be near a window to let the natural light in and use 6500° Kelvin light bulbs – or "natural light" light bulbs (not soft light). They are very white and great for product photography. Standard bulbs are around 3500° Kelvin and produce yellowish photos.
  • Avoid distracting backgrounds and people. If a "setting" shot is necessary make sure the product your selling is the main focus. Sometimes post processing (photo shopping) can help blur out or crop out distractions for a better picture.
  • Focus - don't post or list a picture that's out of focus. Probably more annoying to the viewer than no pictures at all.
  • Always try to show multiple angles of the product. Don't forget, people LOVE pictures - the more the better.

More Tips:

  • For print, pictures should be at least 300 dpi or at least 2 or 3 mega pixels. Most digital camera these days are at least 5 mp which will be fine for the typical catalog or brochure. For larger printed items such as billboards or posters larger resolution pictures are necessary - 10 mp and above – best left to the professionals.
  • For web, given the right lighting and composition, any digital camera will produce excellent pictures – even a 1 or 2 mega pixel digital camera. Remember though web pictures should still be at least 640x480 in size. I personally like 800x600 pictures but don’t go lower than 640 or so wide. With proper compression, quality is barely lost and file sizes can be kept low enough for dial-up users.
  • Also for the web, make sure thumbnails are actual thumbnails and not just "code resized" full sized pictures. This is bad practice and causes slow load times and not so good looking thumbnails.