Photographer Janzen Tew reveals the art of visual storytelling.
A picture is worth a thousand words — and style is what weaves those words into your story. The right product styling can draw your customers into the photo and into your world. Immersed in the moment, they can experience the lifestyle, emotions, and values that your products offer. It’s a powerful tool for nourishing the connections that transform casual shoppers into loyal fans.
Product styling includes physical props and backdrops, but subtle factors are just as essential: tone, composition, and color palette. No one knows this better than Janzen Tew, the CEO/Owner of Denim & Velvet Marketing + Design. A self-taught photographer who was raised in the cutting horse industry, the marketing expert uses visual storytelling to craft successful social media campaigns.
“Without strong images, a campaign can easily fail,” Tew says. “Styling is inevitably one of your most important pieces. It represents the feeling of the product.”
Top Tips to Stop the Scroll
Your pictures need to engage shoppers — and they need to do it quickly. “Social media is a beast, and you only have about five seconds to catch their attention with your post while they mindlessly scroll.” Tew shares her best product styling advice for increasing your social sales.
#1 Have a Consistent Style
“When your brand has a cohesive look, it becomes easily recognizable,” she explains. Choosing a color palette and theme can be helpful. “It gets everyone on the same page about the vision. It helps you choose locations, models, apparel, and accessories.”
#2 Be Timeless and Trendy
“Your image needs to be authentic to your brand and timeless so it can be used moving forward. Yet it also has to have the trending elements that will captivate your audience.” Simple details can add right-now relevancy to classic styles.
#3 Suprise Your Audience
“The one thing that will always break the rules and get everyone to stop is when you do something unexpected. Make your model stand on a horse, wear a ball gown in a grocery store.”
#4 Sometimes Less is More
Don’t try too hard. “Not every photo has to be staged to the max,” Tew says. “Unless I am working in a studio, I only use the natural props around me. There’s no need to add all of the fluff. You should be focused on the product you are selling.” When in doubt, return to your roots: your store, your story. Show your true self through product styling and you’ll tell a story that resonates.
Photography: Paradigm Studios (all images from the June 2019 issue)