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Mastering Product Photography with Meg

Products as pretty as a picture.

Hero image for Issue #15: Product Photography

Other than working on Freddie and Co. for the last few months, I don’t have any experience trying to sell things online.

I do, however, have tons of experience buying things online. My first internet purchases were made after bedtime on my dad’s computer while the rest of my family slept, unaware that I was trolling eBay for old VHS tapes of Moonlighting with mom’s credit card.

Since then, I’ve bought even stranger things from even stranger websites. And I’ve learned that, as a virtual consumer, it can be hard to pull the trigger on a purchase without the ability to physically interact with the product first.

As such, it’s our job as store owners to portray our products in the best way possible through photos, videos, and descriptions.

When we first posted the socks to the site, I got a ton of questions about where they were made and what materials they were made of. I didn’t even think to put that on the site! Lesson learned: clear product descriptions are really important.

But if the photos aren’t good, your potential customers might never even get to the descriptions. Photos are the very first impression your customer gets of your products, so we knew we had to find a way to make them look good. We wanted to try everything.

A lot of the photos of our pins were taken here in our office and around town by our photographer Lizzy Johnston. Lizzy just started at Mailchimp this year, and she helped us perfect our lifestyle photos starring Mattiel and Angelo.

We also outsourced some to our friend and former Mailchimp employee, Jason Travis. He moved to L.A. earlier this year, so we shipped him some pins and told him to do his thing, knowing he’d come up with something unique and fun. Like this:

We also took a bunch of flat photos with the pins lying still on a seamless pink background. David photoshopped some of those into cool patterns like this:

We had no clue what would work best, so we decided to do our first Mailchimp Pro campaign! We did a Multivariate Test when we announced the pins to see what types of photos might drive more sales. We sent 4 emails with all the same content, but different images. Two were lifestyle photos with Mattiel and Angelo wearing the pins, and 2 were the pins on pink seamless.

I announced the test to the company and had people vote on which one they thought would generate more clicks. The vast majority voted for the seamless, but the lifestyle photos actually performed better! I’ve heard that including humans can be more engaging for consumers, and after that experiment, I’m starting to believe it.

The photos that work for you and your store won’t be the same as the photos that work for us, of course. It all depends on what you’re trying to sell and who you’re selling it to. We’re hoping to learn more about what’s best for Freddie and Co. with future experiments.

Oh, and we made a fun behind the scenes video of one of our shoots that includes photo tips from Lizzy. Check it out:

Since I’m no photo expert, I thought I’d share 2 resources I’ve found helpful. Shopify has an excellent guide to product photography that shows how you can DIY your photos with little-to-no equipment. Blogger Ed Jelley wrote a post that teaches specifically about taking photos of your EDC (Everyday Carry). I’ve referenced it a lot for various other types of photos because the advice is just excellent — and it definitely applies to product photography.

* Moonlighting has since been released on DVD, but I had a collection of a few tapes of random episodes before I was able to watch them all.

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