e-Commerce Images & Dick Pics: Is There a Difference?

I think it’s safe to say that most of my attention these days goes towards consuming visual content (as opposed to the written word). That’s why I become so easily annoyed by things like erroneous featured images showing up in my news feed or why I spend the bulk of my downtime watching movies.

And I’m not alone in this. Marketers are obsessed with this idea that images, videos, and other visual content (like infographics, GIFs, animations, and so on) are more engaging for consumers. With visuals consumed by the human brain 60,000 times more quickly than strictly text-based content, it makes sense. Plus, who’s got time to read 3,000+ words when you’ve got deadlines to hit, puppies to feed, or lives to live? Amirite?

Obviously, I’m not saying that the written word is dying or that we should stop reading well-composed and thought-provoking content. I’d be out of a job if I said or believed that. The point I’m trying to make is that visuals play an important role in establishing a connection with your readers, website visitors, and, eventually, customers. Specifically, I’m talking to e-commerce businesses that rely on powerful, engaging, and well-framed photos to sell their goods.

But I’m finding more and more in my travels around the web that businesses don’t always take the time to get their photos right. That’s why I want to take time today to make it perfectly clear how you’re fudging up your e-commerce images and losing the attention and respect of your website visitors and customers. And I’m going to do this by comparing what you do to dick pics.


The Uncanny Connection Between e-Commerce Images and Dick Pics

As someone who makes a living writing about WordPress, web design, and content marketing every day, images and the role they play in the business-to-consumer (or business-to-business) relationship factory heavily into my work. I also happen to be a millennial, which means I check my phone about 150 times a day for new posts on Instagram or Facebook or for email newsletters worth my time. And then there’s my relationship status to figure in.

Being single, I have a few avenues I can pursue as I search for Mr. Right Now:

  1. Go out into the world and hope I bump into him at Wawa or the local brewpub.
  2. Sign up for a super exclusive dating website that’s likely to reject me (it’s happened three times now).
  3. Use a dating app that feeds my need for efficiency and superficiality.

Since running my freelance writing business is priority #1, I’ve gone with door #3. And, um, it’s been interesting.

I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty involved in using a dating app. They’re pretty self-explanatory. Swipe left if you don’t like him or her. Swipe right if you do. Delete your account every three months and swear you’ll never do it again. Sign back up a few days later… Rinse and repeat.

Instead, what I’m going to focus on is how this type of expedited dating has made the dick pic a household name and then share some the lessons we should all pay closer attention to when it comes to creating a picture that’s supposed to be an accurate representative of ourselves.

Technically, this is a dick pic:

e-Commerce Images - Private Dick

I’d argue that Vince Vaughn plays a big dick in one of the most popular flicks of all time:

Here’s another dick pic (of the man on the right, not the phallic-shaped rocket):

e-Commerce Images - Richard Nixon

Annnnnd one more dick flick for ya:

These obviously aren’t the types of dick pics I’m referring to this in this post. That said, I’m not going to show you any male genitalia, so these will have to suffice as I attempt to make my point. Which is this:

This isn’t about saying “woe is me” when it comes to being single and finding that about 63% of all guys want to send you pictures of their junk. Nope. I want to explain in very clear terms how e-commerce businesses should use dick pics as inspiration for their own imagery.

7 Not-so-Hard Lessons to Learn About e-Commerce Images from Dick Pics

If you think about it, the goal is really the same whether you’re creating a dick pic or an image for your e-commerce business: you want to seduce the viewer of your photo.

As someone who has seen enough good and bad dick pics as well as good and bad e-commerce product photos, I can tell you there are some very simple rules you should abide by if you want to stay on good terms with the people with whom you share them. And, so, I’ve created the following list of e-commerce image tips based on the very bad dick pics I’ve come face-to-face with (and heard stories about). Heed my advice and you should have your soon-to-be customers swooning over your product imagery.

Tip #1: Use a Good Camera

e-Commerce companies should never use stock photography. Ever. You should also never use images that are blurry, low-resolution, or are so indiscernible that you leave people wondering what the heck they’re looking at. My suggestion is that you use a high-quality DSLR to take all your product photos. They’ll come out crisp, in focus, and always the center of attention.

Tip #2: Be Picky

Much like with dick pics (or naughty negligee photos or nude selfies), I’m going to assume you don’t just snap one picture and then call it a day. You likely have dozens of photos of a single product. If that’s not the case, be sure to start doing it now. It’s not like you’re working with disposable cameras or ones containing film you have to wait to develop. You can afford to take shot after shot after shot and then be picky about which ones you use on your site. Your customers should only see the best of the best.

Also, if you’ve decided to share user-generated content to promote your e-commerce merchandise, don’t be afraid to weed out the bad ones. You should always show off your products in the best light.

Tip #3: Use Good Lighting

Speaking of the best light, never use poorly-lit photos on your website. Visitors will question the lack in production value or, worse, know you’re hiding something. If you should have issues with “blemishes” (say, if you sell used books), simply be upfront about it. Don’t try and hide those dog-eared pages or worn covers. Put it all out there and focus on the positives of what you’re selling.

Tip #4: Provide Context

Nothing is worse than getting excited about a purchase you just made only to have it show up in the mail about three sizes too small. Now, I’m not trying to make a joke here about why size matters… but it does! If you don’t place your products within context in your photos, how do you expect customers to know what they’re really signing up for? And this isn’t just about size. This is about other factors that will depend on the type of merchandise you sell, like weight, comfort, flexibility, and color. If you want to avoid the hassle of returns and the potential for nasty reviews left on social media, do right by your customers and put those products in context.

Tip #5: Show Different Angles

This is a pretty funny and accurate post about dick pic angles. (Don’t worry: there aren’t any actual male genitalia in here.) The point it’s trying to make is one that e-commerce companies should take to heart. In sum, it basically shows you that not every angle of your product is going to be a flattering one. Or even very relevant to your customers. Sure, for sneakers, it makes sense to let us see what they look like from all sides. But for something like a bottle of shampoo, do we really need five different angular shots of it? Probably not. Just provide your customers with the context that helps them properly interact with and view your product digitally.

Tip #6: Embrace Your Differences

While you might think it’s a smart move to frame your e-commerce images in a way that make your product similar to that of the competition, why would you do that? The whole reason you got into business was because you believed you had a product that set you apart, that did something better/faster/more efficiently than the other guys, right? Embrace your differences and tell a unique story with your product imagery. If you can, infuse some of your brand’s personality and voice into it as well.

If you’re not easily offended, then check out this video from the woman behind Dicture. You can see how she’s helped men give their dick pics more of a personality that matches their own and helps set them apart from the sea of other dick pics.

The Art of Dick Pics from Capital K Pictures on Vimeo.

I’m not saying you have to dress your products up as silly characters, but it’s a good example of how a unique marketing strategy could work for your own photos.

Tip #7: Keep It Positive

I think one of the biggest problems people have with dick pics is the hostility that comes ingrained in some of them. Whether it’s because they were unsolicited or the picture itself depicts something grotesque and disturbing, there is a reason why dick pics have gotten a bad reputation.

While I don’t believe e-commerce imagery has gone down that path, this is still something worth reminding: keep it clean, keep it relevant, and keep it positive. Everything you do with your web design should always invoke positive associations and your e-commerce images are no different.

That’s a Wrap

When it comes down to it, e-commerce is a game of seduction.

e-Commerce Images - Zoolander Magnum

If you want to win this game, then your images need to be be ready to impress. Just remember: don’t falsely represent your product, always frame it in the best light, and, for goodness’ sake, never share anything you’d be embarrassed about your friends and family finding.