Should I Stage or Model Photos?

Kate Pullen
By Kate Pullen / February 15, 2017

Which is best? To stage product photos or to show them in isolation against a white or neutral background?

The answer will depend on your products, your target shopper, the purpose of the photos and the venue. Which is a sure indicator that there’s no right or wrong way to approach this

The images that we use on our sales page should do two things. The first is that they should demonstrate the product – show the colors, size, features etc. To this end, a plain background will help people focus on the product, although you might add in things that will help demonstrate size. The second purpose of the image is to sell the ‘dream’ – to show people how they might look wearing this product, what it might look like in their house, how they would use it, how they will feel after… You could compare this to features and benefits – one image will show the features and the other the benefits. So it is good to have both types of images in your listing.

However, which should be your prime image? If you sell primarily on a platform like Etsy and Amazon and if the majority of your views come through search, then you need to think about how your shoppers see your product in search results and how they will compare your product with others. You need to consider what will position your product the best. It’s likely to be a close up of your product so they can clearly see what it is you are selling. It won’t matter if the image is staged or not, what does matter is that people can see and understand immediately the product you are selling.

Try searching for one of your key search terms and see they types of images that are displayed on the front page – which would a shopper be most inclined to click on to learn more. But, as I mentioned, the type of product is going to come into play here too. With small items, when they are staged (for example modeled jewelry) it can be difficult to see what the item is, so these images might be better used as secondary preview pics, however with items like clothes, modeled pics are great for really displaying an item.

It’s certainly good to have consistency in your preview images – so someone will see your photo in search results and know it’s your items. This will also come down to your brand style. If you stage your photos or have a specific backdrop for photos, it’s good for this to dovetail into your brand styling so there’s a connection between your previews and your brand definition.

I would suggest trying and testing different approaches to see what works best for your products.

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About the author

Kate Pullen

Kate is a long term marketing professional who made a lifestyle change and moved to Spain to follow her dream. She learned how to apply her business skills to her creative skills to grow a business. Her goal is to help others follow their dreams too.