Making detail shots count
Last time we covered the importance of taking a good running shot — but if you really want to keep a customer interested, you’ll need detail photos to back it up. Detail photographs are the unsung heroes of boat ads for one simple reason: They never make the “cover.” They’re usually buried beneath layers of introductions, specifications and information. They are an afterthought. But if someone digs deep enough to look at a boat’s detail photos, you can bet they’re already interested. And what they see when they click on those little thumbnails can make the difference between your phone ringing or staying silent.
So, how are we going to get from a curious click to a truly tempted customer? Let’s start off with the New York Institute of Photography’s top three guidelines:
1. Identify the subject of your photograph.
2. Emphasize the subject.
3. Eliminate the elements that distract from that subject.
Now let’s look at each of these in turn. First, identifying your subject. This may seem simple: it’s a part of the boat, right? Well, sure. But consider how many shots of a salon you’ve seen that somehow didn’t seem to do the boat justice. Instead of just standing in the doorway and snapping off a shot, you can get a better picture by identifying a specific feature in the salon — maybe the settee or the entertainment center — and featuring it front and center. Even when taking a picture of a broad, open area, identify a focal point for that picture.
Now, how do you emphasize that subject? Obviously, it should be centered if possible, and in focus. But also consider one of the basic rules of photography, the “Rule of Thirds.” If you divide the frame with three evenly spaced lines both vertically and horizontally, the viewer’s eye will naturally be drawn to where these lines cross. Try to visualize these lines as you set up the shot and place the subject accordingly.
Another way to emphasize the subject is by using relative size. Objects that are closer to the camera appear bigger in the picture, and you can use this to your advantage. Let’s say, for example, you’re taking a detail shot of the cockpit of a boat with an electric grill built into the back of a seat — a feature you’d like to emphasize as much as possible. Frame the photo so the grill is closer than other items in view, positioned where the Rule of Thirds dictates, and you’ll have an attractive shot that informs the viewer while making the grill look great.
Another big issue on boats is eliminating distractions, number three on the list. Many boats are full of clutter, which is a huge distraction from the subject. Remove items left sitting on the countertops, gear bags on the floor and soda cans left on the tables. If there are throw pillows on the settee, take a moment to straighten them out and arrange them nicely. And remove power cords, hoses, or coolers from a boat’s cockpit before snapping off those detail shots.
Remember: don’t sell detail shots short. They may not be the most important component of selling a boat, but they will play a significant role in getting a consumer from interested to excited.