Product photos 101

The Importance of Product Photography: Capturing the Essence of Your Brand

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, the significance of product photography cannot be overstated. As consumers increasingly turn to online shopping, visual presentation plays a crucial role in influencing their purchasing decisions. High-quality product photography has become a powerful tool for businesses to effectively communicate the value of their products and create a lasting impact on potential customers.

First and foremost, product photography is all about showcasing your offerings in the best possible light. A well-executed product image can highlight the unique features, craftsmanship, and attention to detail, setting your products apart from the competition. When customers can see the products up close and in detail, they develop a stronger sense of trust and confidence in their potential purchase.

There are various types of product photography that cater to different needs and contexts. One of the most common types is the “white background” or “catalog” style. This style involves capturing the product against a clean, white background, allowing the focus to remain solely on the item itself. This approach is commonly used in e-commerce websites and product catalogs, providing a standardized and professional look.

Lifestyle photography is another prevalent style that aims to showcase the product in real-life scenarios, evoking emotions and helping customers visualize the product’s utility. This method is particularly effective for products that are intended to enhance the lifestyle of the consumer, such as fashion, accessories, or home decor items.

Moreover, creative product photography can also be utilized to convey brand identity and personality. By incorporating unique compositions, lighting, and artistic elements, businesses can create a distinct visual identity that resonates with their target audience. This can foster a deeper connection with customers and build brand loyalty over time.

The importance of high-quality product photography extends beyond the digital realm. In traditional advertising, product images are a staple for print materials like brochures, flyers, and billboards. They also play a vital role in packaging design, where eye-catching visuals can attract attention and influence purchase decisions on store shelves.

Ultimately, investing in professional product photography is a wise business decision. It ensures that your products are presented in the best possible way across various marketing channels, making a strong first impression and compelling customers to explore further. With visually appealing and informative product images, you can boost your brand’s credibility, increase sales, and create a memorable shopping experience for your customers.

In conclusion, product photography is an indispensable aspect of modern marketing and branding. It not only showcases your products but also communicates your brand’s story and values. By employing various photography styles and techniques, businesses can create a visual narrative that captivates customers, fosters trust, and drives success in today’s competitive market.

AI is making us lazy

I have been using AI for a few months, and I don’t even want to write captions for Instagram anymore. It corrects my grammar and typos. It writes SEO articles and captions without thinking. The irony is that the articles were written to be read by another scanning robot and ranked in that fashion. I hardly even read anymore because I can have a robot talk to me instead of reading it myself.

Some of the editing I do is AI, and some of the writing I do is AI. It’s all making things easier, but I have found that so much complication happens when things become too convenient. I am not one to try to slow the progress of something that is inevitable, but I imagine things (Visually) will change a lot faster than they have, and I wonder how it will affect our ability to communicate.

I have found AI writing to be vague and mostly filler, and I have found the art work to be the same. The generative fill in Photoshop can be clever, but it’s been difficult for me to modify and perfect. At best, I feel like it’s a good starting point or placeholder. It has yet to produce a final product that I am satisfied with. In other words, I’m not worried about losing my job as of now. I don’t think the copywriters and voiceover folks are going anywhere, and I don’t think art is going to be making a shift. I am SUPER curious about what it will be able to do with CGI and animation.

Playing with AI can be fun, and I think that is a fundamental requirement for learning. If you don’t try it, How do you know if it works? I like to make it guess colors and textures; sometimes it works really well, and other times the results are nothing short of comical. The websites and software I have used to play with these ideas are Photoshop (beta) and Adobe Firefly for some illustrations and fun or silly effects. I’ve also used it alongside the MidJourney bot to see what differences they produce.

I’ve used many AI writing programs, and I think they are the most refined because there is so much text that can be scanned. Billions of words and articles. I like using to write small things like scripts, paraphrase, or rewrite articles for sharing. I make it write my tweets, and sometimes it works for captions. It’s very popular and crashes a lot now. The best one for captions and the easiest one to tweak is I enjoy using it because it’s far more personal than OpenAI.

I have lots of thoughts about this, and if you would like to share some of yours, I’m all ears. I wrote this article in hopes of getting some feedback and maybe even some good ideas about how to tweak and use AI for the greater good. Thanks for reading!

Why passion projects are worth all your time.

Finding time to shoot personal projects-

The more and more I spend my time working on other projects I realize more and more that these are the same projects that someone else wants to be done- what I mean is that even work is producing someone else’s dream. 

Here are a few things that I think will help you put yourself on that list of “things to do” 

-I take fun too seriously

-Making inspiration 

-Personal makes professional

-The 20-minute project

-When to say “No” 


That means that I’m always planning for the things that I enjoy. It makes doing the things you have to do a little more bearable. “If I can get this done I know I can play with the dog/ watch our favorite show together after dinner/ take that surf trip/to go play golf/ etc” I could list a million things. When we figure that thing out, we might as well document it to some extent. It’s rare that someone doesn’t have their phone or camera with them, or record a voice message if you’re writing. 

Personal projects are the fuel to feeling good and continuing to produce. They are essential. It’s rare that someone is always able to work on exactly what they want to all the time. I do not allow things to interfere with my “fun” because that’s the only reason I do anything. I do things I have to obviously, but I’m always chasing the fun…

Do that shit. It keeps you clear and it keeps you stoked about your life, don’t always put that off, and make sure you are vocal and keep that time sacred. Document it so you can keep track of home/work/fun balance. You’ll find more work coming from these things and you’ll always be glad you did. 


I read a book called “Get to Work” by Zach Arias. The gist of the book is that Inspiration doesn’t fall into your lap. It’s something that you have to make. Now that being said, you can’t pour from an empty cup. You’ll have to take a break if you’re burned out… but I’ve found that if you’re a writer and stressed, go take pictures. You’ll suddenly have something to write about. If you’re a photographer, try to write a piece about something you enjoy. You’ll certainly jog your memory about things you want to photograph. 

“Book the ticket, take the ride” - Hunter S. Thompson

I find that pressure sometimes makes the best Inspiration. I sometimes by myself on a job and realize that there is no waiting to be inspired, these are the things I have to work with and I have to make something good. It’s fun to tweak and make that puzzle work. If your light dies, we have to do X Y Z. We have to keep going. You’re at work. You are getting paid, and let’s both take a second to pray and hope that we have the skills to satisfy the complete task at hand. 


What I mean is - Lots of personal projects are good examples of what you can show the world you’re capable of. The more you try things that are free, the less likely you are to find yourself in a bind with no bag of tricks to push through. Learning to shoot with one light has made shooting with one light my preference. Knowing how to add fill light later on personal projects gave me the confidence to try this technique on paid jobs. Not to mention the confidence to approach those jobs that I might not think I could do. This isn’t “fake it til you make it” stuff this is unpaid training. 


It sounds easy, but I’ve had a hard time with it from time to time. This is an exercise so many different vocations recommend. Do something for 20 minutes and you’ll find that you’ll do it for longer, or if you do it habitually for 20 minutes, you can become fairly skilled. This is the practice of starting and letting things flow. If you can just pick up your guitar and Start, take note of the time and you’ll find that the 20 mins you just set aside flies by. Same with starting at the gym or running. Getting started is the hardest part. The time flies by, even if you don’t really enjoy it. Brainstorm a project and then take 20 minutes to try it. If you’re learning something read about it for 20 minutes. Next time try it for 20 minutes. Just start. It’s the hardest part most time.


When I first started my motto was to say yes to anything with a time frame and a check. Nowadays, I get to be more selective, not because I’m rich, but because some things are just humongous time killers. Like very low-budget weddings, they’ll likely not be portfolio work, the customer will be upset with the images and you’ll not make very much money. You’ll also miss out on other things that would be a better use of your time. 

I recently worked an event and it was a “pay per download”. I know some folks find this to be profitable, but without the correct amount of research and experience, I found it to be a humungous waste of my time and resources. I paid for printed material, digital materials, and the website to host the images. Needless to say, I had to take a loss on the project and I should have asked more questions and or required a day rate for the photos. 

I like to say I follow the “fame, fortune, fun” model and It has to check two boxes. If it pays well and it’s fun, cool. If it’s going to make me known by other brands or folks I want to work with and it’s fun, cool. If it’s none… then I will have to pass. 


Thank you for reading. I hope some portion of this writing helps you. Please follow me on Instagram and Twitter- @jonstellphoto @thedesigncypher 

Check the page for more info about what we are doing in sunny coastal South Carolina. 

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