Winery Photography – Why it’s SO Important

Aug 31, 2020 | Business, Marketing

CARL GIAVANTI is a Winery Publicist with a DTC Marketing background. He’s enjoyed 11 years of winery consulting. Carl has been involved in business marketing and public relations for over 25 years; originally in technology, digital marketing and project management, and now as a winery media relations and communications consultant. Clients are or have been in Napa Valley, Willamette Valley, and the Columbia Gorge.

Professional photography can be expensive – anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars – which explains why a client of mine recently balked at the suggestion they hire a professional photographer and build a multi-purpose photo gallery. “iPhone photos are good quality, why can’t we just use those? Are photos so important? Do people really care?” They are, and they do, I offered.

Image-based marketing is important because people are reading less. Photos with captions and Instagram posts have taken the place of winery blogs. Newsletters with real winery news are replaced with fast facts and images of events and wine promos.

When working with the media, know that writers prefer to focus on their written interviews and appreciate knowing that the winery has invested in high-resolution photography, as their editors typically require photos with proper attribution. Most online publications do not have photographers on staff and often rely on writers to take or source photos, while Print publications will request high-res large file size images to run with articles.

I talked to Jason Kaplan of Jason E Kaplan Photography about the importance of high-resolution quality photography for wineries. “Wineries can build their brands through storytelling. Images are so important to creating narratives that create an emotional connection to the business. This could be especially true for properties that host events. Even for ones that don’t, people like the opportunity to look behind the curtain and see how things are actually done.” Well said.

I also wanted a perspective from a designer and developer, so I asked Shery Rice of Greenhouse for comments. “Consumers don’t always recognize when they are seeing a great photograph. But they know instinctively when they are seeing a bad one—they cannot personally connect with the image and are not inspired to further interaction. The production value of your photography makes a subliminal statement to consumers about how you value your offerings and leads them to the next unconscious steps in assessing whether or not to pursue your brand further.”

For the reasons stated above, I suggest the following. Photos should be high resolution and formatted for print, website, and Instagram/social media.

  1. Photo Gallery on the Website – add this page to Main Menu or in the Website Footer. You can use these categories or folders to organize – Seasons, Harvest, Crush, Vineyard, Aerial photos, Winery, Tasting Room, People, Events, Club, Winemaker dinners, etc.
  2. Photo Gallery on the Website Trade & Media Page – same as #1, or use an anchor link to #1
  3. Dropbox – share link to winery approved photos for use by qualified media – all of the above plus logos, bottle shots*, label images, shelf-talkers, headshots and other winery assets

Someone should be assigned to curate this Photo Library which includes items #1, #2 and #3. Marketing will draw from these winery images (owned media) for email newsletters, social media posts, event listings, advertising, print collateral, and the list goes on.

If you decide to work with a photographer, be sure to obtain the original high-resolution image files for print collateral such as logos and labels. The highest resolution are vector files which are completely expandable to any size. Image files in a .TIFF format are also very high resolution and ideal for enlarging an image, and .JPG or .JPEG work well for websites and social media.

Photo resolution and file size are very important, and they vary depending on whether you will be printing, enlarging, using on a website or posting on Instagram and social media. Be sure to ask a professional photographer for guidance. I suggest you ask for images in three sizes – print, website and social media. Also ask if image size, aspect ratio and color space can be adjusted and if there are additional fees.

It’s also important to have the rights to your own photos, so attribution goes to your winery instead of to a photographer. This is something you would need to discuss and would only happen for paid engagements. It is less likely that a professional photographer will give you rights if they are doing a pro bono shoot or trading their time for wine. It is also a lot safer to own your image media than using other people’s social media post images, even though they exist in the public domain.

*Note: Bottle shots are a specialty shoot and should be done by a professional in a studio. I prefer a transparent background. I also like vintages removed using Photoshop, which makes the bottle images reusable. Evergreen photography is good.

A shorter version of this article originally appeared in Oregon Wine Press, the April 2020 print and digital editions.

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  1. Vicki

    I’ve seen too many wineries post cell phone photos that really don’t serve their brands well. A pro is worth every cent, and it’s far more reasonably priced that you may think. Bottle shots are really hard to do well with special lighting!

    • Chris

      That’s for sure! The quality of the photography often belies the quality of the wine and the tasting room experience. Attention to detail matters. Even wineries with small budgets can procure good photography. I know many who do trade or who work with up-and-coming, less expensive pros.


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