I bought a piano the other day. It’s a Steinway Designed Boston Piano 118S (remember I was raving about their innovative long-term price / upgrade guarantee). This is a story about how I almost bought something else, all because the photographs on the web and in their brochures made my piano look bad.

First, let me begin by appeasing all the proper pianists out there (isn’t it funny how “pianist” sounds if you say it fast?) by saying that I initially chose my preferred piano by the action and responsiveness of the keys, as well as the sound. The annual September sale was on at Remenyi, the lovely music store across from the Royal Conservatory of Music.

The Boston 118S was on special for $7200

The Boston 118E was discounted to $11200.

With one day left of the sale, my brain said

(a) I can’t really justify the 118E because I’m buying a house now and

(b) even though I can afford the 118S, that’s a lot of GRAIN in that wood!

(c) I have to guess how the other colours / stains look because they don’t provide pictures of every colour variation of every model.

So I almost went to buy a Kawai from a different store instead. Happily, my wife pushed me into the car and said we should look at both pianos in person, just in case the grain wasn’t that bad.

We went to the store and guess what: the wood was not nearly as grainy in normal light. It looked pretty cool actually. Some things, just like some faces, just shouldn’t be photographed in glorious full lighting.

The moral of the story: if you’re going to be the marketing person for a major brand,

(1) you need to understand photography enough to notice things that make products look right and wrong and

(2) be sure to photograph all the different colour variations of the product; and make those pics available on the web.

It almost cost Steinway $7200 last Saturday, from my hesitation alone. $7200 gets you lots of photographer time in my experience and in this economy. Even if you lose only 100 customers in a year because your pics don’t show your products in the best light, that’s $720,000.

Steinway, please take my $7,200 and increase your budget for product photography.

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Consumer Behaviour, Photography