Don’t Forget the Picture!
High quality photos are one of the best tools in the ornamental plant marketing tool kit. People are visually drawn to plants and fixate on them longer than any additional information that is provided when determining their purchase likelihood. Providing high quality photos online allows consumers to peruse their options before buying and helps them make decisions on where to shop and what to buy. Often, it is easy to overlook updating photos (especially online) if there is a tried-and-true cultivar that is offered year after year. However, photos can be dated, even if the content is the same (have you watched one of the original Pixar movies compared to one of the new ones lately?). Even though we are in the height of busy season, now is the best time to snap a couple photos to upload for next year. So, as your plants head out the door, remember to take a minute to snap a few high-quality photos. Here are some best practices for high quality photos "on the go”:
- Focal points: What are the value-added attributes of the plant? What message are you trying to convey? Take a picture of the most aesthetic attributes (e.g., flowers, fall foliage, texture, form, fruit, etc.) to visually demonstrate to the consumer what they can expect from that plant in their landscape. Consider the best means of highlighting these benefits. For instance, a close-up photo may be the best option for bright, showy flowers (see the hibiscus photo). Conversely, a more distant photo may be desirable for a boxwood where the shape and texture are desired traits.
- Lighting: Overcast days or light shade provide good lighting for photos. Bright sunlight brings out color (which may be beneficial for flower close-ups) but it also deepens shadows which can be distracting if your taking pictures of the entire plant.
- Background: Be conscious of what is behind the plants being photographed. Consider the focal point and how to minimize distractions. Fortunately, there are several filters (e.g., the "portrait” option) that blurs the background and removes visual clutter.
Alicia L. RihnAssistant Professor, University of Tennessee
Alicia has been at the University of Tennessee since July 2020. Her area of expertise is in marketing and consumer behavior with an emphasis on ornamental horticulture products. She also addresses niche markets, value-added ag, willingness-to-pay, and promotional strategies to encourage plant purchasing behavior.