Let's Photograph Some Tiny Cables

Originally published June 5, 2017 on the Tiny Cables Medium publication.

Everyone knows what a cable looks like.


Here’s the question: is it possible for us to use product photography to stand out?

First, it’s important to share what seems to be consensus best practice in this area:

  • Make sure that the lighting is natural, bright, and makes for an accurate representation of the product.
  • The simpler the background, the better. This doesn’t mean that the background has to be white — a natural background can reinforce the brand — but it should not take away from the product itself.
  • Product fit is an essential component to the buying decision. This has more to do with clothing, but a demonstration of what your product looks like when it’s in-use is helpful.
  • Your website will look best if all of your products have consistent resolution and photo dimensions. Can’t have some product photos in squares, others in rectangles, and some in trapezoids.

All of this seemed simple enough, but it still felt like something best left to professionals. I contacted two product photographers who, it turned out, were way out of our price range: the cheapest path with a professional would have run about $3,500. The more expensive option would have reached almost $7,000.

That wasn’t going to work for us.

So, let’s hack something together.

My inclination was to zig hard in a different direction. I thought about creative ways to reinforce the TINY brand, and thought that tiny LEGO friends might be able to help. That thought, a trip to the LEGO Store in San Francisco, and an hour or two lead to this photo-shoot:

Unfortunately, these aren’t usable product photos. While they hit the branding elements, the constraints presented by the LEGO characters made it difficult to show the product. The photos seemed too busy and they weren’t focused on the point. The exercise did produce good content for social media, though. We’ll use these.

Back to the drawing board.

We decided to shoot the cables in a natural environment (in this case, my co-working space in San Francisco) and focus on the TINY-branded cable ends, like how Anker did in one of the product photos I shared at the beginning of this post. It stood to reason that our black and white cables would look best and stand out when contrasted against a color background (rather than more black and white).

Armed with an iPhone 7 Plus and a paper clip to hold the cables steady, I took some product shots.

The raw shots came out alright. After unsuccessfully fumbling around with some iOS-based editing tools (like Snapseed), I decided to pay a graphic designer friend $100 to tidy ’em up.

The results:

In tech entrepreneurship, you seek the path of least resistance to the minimum viable product — something you can get out into the market, test, and get feedback on. In that spirit, these are our minimum viable product photos. We’re going to add some photographic depth over the course of the next few weeks (during our soft launch), but these will do for now. You’ll be seeing these on our web store, TinyCables.com, when it launches later this week.

We’re excited.