The way businesses and consumers shop for lighting has changed forever. People want to know what they’re getting before they even have the first contact with you. They want to be able to compare fixtures and find the information they need quickly. With the customer journey shifting towards websites and online sales, the quality of that online experience can determine whether they buy from you or not.
As more and more businesses grow their influence online, they look for ways to get ahead of the competition and engage new customers. If you are trying to sell your luminaires online (and you 100% should), then you know pictures are what stands out on your website. In a world where first impressions really matter, quality images are essential.
Enter product rendering: a way of creating photorealistic images using 3D-models to create perfect images of your luminaires to attract buyers and increase your online sales numbers. More and more businesses are starting to use the advantages product rendering has to offer, but should you? The traditional way to create product images is with a camera, a photo studio and a skilled photographer. But now that product rendering is going mainstream, which one do you pick? In this article, we’re going to have a look at when you should be using photography and when rendering is the better option for your fixture designs.
These days, customers want more and more a personal product, something that fits their exact circumstance. They like to have options such as different colors, textures, cables, … and want to be able to see what this looks like before they make the buying decision.
Before product rendering, this was very hard to achieve with photography. The trouble of creating a prototype and taking pictures was a huge investment and the client might still reject the fixture, leaving you with a useless product on the shelves.
With product rendering however, you never have to make that prototype. Instead you can just use a 3D-model and apply any modification straight to that model to give a photorealistic impression to the client. This is not only much faster, it also saves money, materials and a lot of production time. In short, you are finalizing the sale before companies can even finish their prototype.
Rendering has the upper hand when it comes to custom products.
Unlike what a lot of rendering firms say, there are situations where product photography has its uses.
Although getting a photographer isn’t cheap, in cases where you have a photo studio at your company and you offer relatively little customization, you can get great product images with traditional photography at a lower cost than rendering. Images with your luminaires in a suitable environment can be trickier though: asking customers to take pictures when their fixtures are installed often leads to a wide variety of quality and long wait times. If your customers are geographically close to you, it might make financial sense to have a photographer visit the location, guaranteeing that you have quality content for your website.
In most situations though, 3D rendering comes out on top when it comes to cost-effectiveness. If you offer customization, using rendering will prevent you from making every single option you have in the catalogue and taking pictures of it. These variations can be added with a few clicks, creating dozens of images with very little effort. For images of your luminaires in an environment, 3D rendering also really shines: it allows a designer to create a virtual space for the luminaire which can be altered in any way you see fit. These environment images can be generated without going on location and disturbing your client. Instead, you can do everything right from your desk.
3D rendering is more cost effective in most situations, but there are a select few scenarios where it makes more sense to use photography.
In order to take pictures of a new fixture, you’ll need the fully built prototype. Physical prototypes can be pricey. This can be particularly true for companies in the architectural design space. Large fixtures and installations often require significant amounts of money for building prototypes. If the product then fails to sell as expected, you lose time and money.
However, if you choose to use 3D rendering, you don’t actually need to build the new luminaire before putting it in your ecommerce funnel. We advise you to make a proof of concept prototype to make sure you can build it but you never have to make a full version of the product before your sales-staff can start selling it. This doesn’t only save you valuable resources, it also gives your designers a lot more freedom to generate ideas without money being an issue in the development stage.
3D Rendering allows for a shorter development- and market outreach process, thus saving you money. Using product photography for new products ties up manpower.
Photography will always be tied to reality, this can be a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is that your images will always look photorealistic (well, it’s a photo). The bad thing however is that you’ll always be bound to places that exist and are allowed to visit.
If you are looking for a space to take pictures of your luminaire with just that right colors, the right lighting and the furniture that you want, it is going to drive up the price of the images a lot (or it might not even be possible to create that environment). With 3D rendering, you can make any environment you like. You can make the exact environment that resonates with your audience, making sure that your fixture is brought forward in the best light possible.
3D rendering allows you infinite creativity to stand out from your competitors compared to the physical constraints of photography.
Editable and reusable
Once a photoshoot is over, you can’t change the environment, details, or layout. Instead, you would have to organize a new photoshoot. With 3D visualization, revisions are much easier. Where photography is restrictive afterwards, 3D product rendering provides unlimited flexibility. Changes can be made at any stage to make sure your shots are perfect to convince your clients.
Another benefit of 3D rendering is the reusability of files: repurposing visuals by making small alterations makes it possible for a 3D technician to get you a new image in record time, giving you much more flexibility and saving even more time and money.
Photos are hard to make changes to after the photoshoot, 3D rendering doesn’t only make it possible to change anything at any time, it also makes environments reusable for new products.
Detail shots, photorealism and material samples
For showing off finishing details and material samples it is recommended to use photography over rendering. For shots like this, you really want to capture the surface textures and craftsmanship of your staff. Although a skilled 3D rendering-technician can achieve the exact same look as a close up picture, it would really defeat the purpose of what information you would try to convey in the image.
With product photography photorealism is always guaranteed. 3D rendering however can look cartoonish when not done right. That’s why we always advise, when choosing a product rendering firm to work with, to go over their portfolio carefully to make sure they can achieve the desired look.
Detail shots and material samples are better to do with photography because of the information you are trying to convey in the shots. Photorealism can be achieved with 3D-rendering, but make sure to choose the right firm to work with.
Are you ready to start rendering your fixtures for ecommerce sales but you don’t know where to begin? Send us a message! We do free assessments to make sure you are confident in your decision.
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