• Craig Singleton

Taking a Picture vs Capturing a Portrait for Product Descriptions

Have you ever thought about the difference between product listing content and a product description?


Without a doubt, you’ve seen the two phrases being used interchangeably.


For me, whenever I’m presented with the opportunity to work with new brands and/or products, those tend to be the most requested services.


So what’s the difference?


The answer isn’t overly complicated. However, I’d like to offer an anecdotal response in order to provide a bit of creative insight.


You see, I often moonlight as a portrait & product photographer. And right before I click the shutter button, I ask myself a very important question; “Am I capturing a portrait or simply taking a picture?”


Truth is, even my 80-year old mom is capable of taking a photo with her (I kid you not) flip phone. Unfortunately, I have tons of text messages with blurry flower garden images to prove it.


But there’s more to it than just the technical side of things. {Remember I said this}


Yes, you’ll still want to make sure that your subject is properly exposed, the aperture is conducive to the shot, and that you’re working with a quality lens. But none of those things are important without composition.


What is that?


Composition for a photographer helps to create the story. As an example, imagine the following two images:


  • Image One: A man wearing a soaking wet sweatshirt standing in front of a plain gray backdrop.


  • Image Two: Same guy, same soggy shirt, but now he’s standing outside in the middle of the street while holding a broken umbrella.


What’s the difference? One image gives context, while the other simply lets you fill in the gaps about how said gentleman ended up drenched with water.


But in photography, composition is so much more. It delivering tack sharp focus on the eyes, allowing viewers to connect with the model. Or creating environmental symmetric lines to ensure visual balance and harmony. Maybe inserting contrasting colors so that the image has a bit of pop.

Point being… Those things are what “make the image.”


Conversely, the same thing can be said about developing high conversion content for products.


More times than not, it’s manufacturers who utilize “basic” product listing info. They develop product information designed to give a simple snapshot of the item. This includes everything from packaging contents, product dimensions and step-by-step instructions. It’s the technical side of things. (See what I did there?)


These things give the user a general understanding of what the item is. Unfortunately, it most certainly does not tell the story of how the item is designed to solve a specific problem, save money or impact the consumer's life for the greater good. You know… the story.


That’s where a product description comes in. Much like composition, it’s there to give context.


When written well, product descriptions tell a story of their own. They allow the potential customer to own the item without unwrapping it. Okay, that sounded a bit like shoplifting, but I think you get gist of what I’m saying.

Whether for eCommerce store listings or on-package labeling, professionally written product descriptions communicate both features and benefits in a manner that helps accelerate the purchasing process. They provide facts, without compromising concepts. In other words, they sell the sizzle… not just the steak.


More importantly, they allow you to stand out as a brand. Afterall, listed manufacturing content can only differentiate your line of goods but so much. Color, size specifications and price may play a pivotal role in some cases. But composing content in an engaging manner so that it speaks directly to the customer is ultimately what wins the “buy box.”


And it’s only when you’ve managed to fully understand your brand, product(s) and target audience – That you (or the content writer) can create content that converts.

What is your brand's story, and how do you apply it to your product content?


Do you simply give data or relevant details?


Ultimately, your goal as a brand is to distinguish yourself (and products) from your competitors. Give them reason to not only buy from you, but to do so over and over again.


Stop taking simplistic snapshots of your product. Instead, capture the true value of your item and convey it to your audience.


Or… call me.

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Some Words Are Worth A Thousand Pictures