We’re all familiar with how important appearance is in modern society. We choose products such as phones and computers based on their design. We select which people to meet based on their profile photos. Not even food and drink escape: we’re influenced by the design of their packaging. We’ve always had this behavior; much more over the past few years. Obviously, it applies to cars just as well, but its execution isn’t always as good as one would expect.
When it comes to design, there are no surprises. Automakers do pretty much whatever they can to understand what people want today, to predict how will that change in the next few years, and to put all that into practice in the best possible way. However, product design isn’t everything here. Food, for example, is advertised considering mostly the in-person interaction because people need and are able to visit its selling points (such as supermarkets) rather frequently.
Cars, in turn, are big and expensive and people buy them once every couple of years. People need to go towards them in order to see them, but will only do so when they’re already interested in purchasing one. Automakers end up forced to focus on print and online media, and this is what brings us to this post’s topic: photos. The visual tools responsible for the first form of contact of many people with most car models — and, in many cases, the only form.
Before first owners post on social networks and the press publishes individual and comparative tests, cars are presented to the public through stock photos (and videos, sometimes). They’re professionally taken, so we can only expect them to be near perfect. Some of them are, in fact, beautiful enough to make us want to put them in a frame. Others, however, bring mistakes that render them pretty much counterproductive, which is a big deal here. Wanna see some examples?
When properly executed, digital editing brings incredible benefits. One is the possibility of photographing the product a few times in a studio and placing it in any background you want. Photos with well-chosen backgrounds help the public understand the car’s characteristics and purpose, which is pretty much the goal of stock ones. Therefore, photos with empty backgrounds should be used only as a resource to make those others or, at most, for website buttons; not as the final product.
Photos where all the items are balanced and just feel visually connected are good for personal posts. In stock photos, the priority should be showing the product. The car is in an adequate position in both examples, but the left one is painted in gray, which is a very discreet color per se, and its sides reflect too much of the trees. Contrasting body colors prevent it from merging too much with detailed backgrounds and yield even better result when they’re simpler, as showed on the right.
Selfie-taking teaches the importance of lighting in photography better than many courses. Finding the perfect position and the perfect angle is worthless if the lighting is poor because it’s just impossible to appreciate those two. In a stock photo, people are supposed to actually see the multiple components of the product’s appearance. Overshadowing it is only desirable in special cases such as parts of a video or teaser material, where the goal is to build eagerness to see the whole thing.
This topic demands a more flexible analysis. If you’re advertising a sports car, it’s great to show it doing a tight U-turn. For off-road models, crossing a river or jumping even helps build hype. However, if your product is conventional, like city cars, still photos are preferrable. By lacking the sense of movement, they’re more suitable to show details such as beautiful wheels or any updated part. They also make the background much more noticeable, so it’s good to have this covered as well.
Good stock photos make a wonderful first impression. They make use of our sense of beauty in order to make us more inclined to spend time observing it. When this is properly accomplished, all viewers become more likely to keep the product in mind. And any of those who have the slightest actual interest in buying that kind of product will certainly focus on that particular model. Which good and bad stock photos of cars do you know? Feel free to share them as a comment!