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3 Ways to Elevate Your Imagery and Shoot For Agility Today

Rent the Runway's Heather Johnson talks creative imagery overhauls.

Screenshot 2022-10-05 at 9.37.36 AM
Head of Community at Creative Force
Head of Community at Creative Force

You might want to revise the creative approach your studio takes to your product display page imagery, but you might not know where to start. Well get to know Heather Johnson, Rent the Runway's director of photography and retouching, who guided her studio team through a redo of their PDP creative.

Want to hear Heather's full appearance on The Creative Operations Podcast? Find it on Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, or our website. But for a few pointers on taking that creative makeover from brainstorms to execution, read on.

Allow Your PDP Imagery to Say What You Mean to Say

When Heather joined Rent the Runway, the studio's imagery wasn't "recognizably RTR," she says. So the studio team went about transforming their creative identity.

First, there was a whiteboard session among leadership that articulated what they wanted or didn't want, their imagery to become. That session turned into a presentation deck, and as the plan gained consensus, the new direction was set.

"For us, the goal for this creative direction was to really reflect an elevated and inspiring aesthetic to help enhance the customer experience on-site and app," she says. "We really want to make sure we could improve the ability to capture the beauty and movement of the garments, provide a better sense of fit, and educate our customer."

Trying your own creative refresh? Start with a clear vision of what virtues you do and don't want to communicate through your imagery, and then establish a philosophy for which visual principles will recur throughout your work-making it recognizable.

Test and Iterate Your New Creative Direction

For this ambitious refresh of their PDP shots, the Rent the Runway team allocated time during low-volume months to test their new look. "We really quickly pulled together a test shoot so that we could show, like, 'Hey, we can do this,'" Heather says. Running a couple of sets at a time they varied backdrops and lighting. "I tried a wall and a floor with a horizon line, I tried a neutral background, I tried a black background," Heather says. "So I just wanted to make sure I threw all the options out there before we made a final decision on what direction we wanted to go in."

For your creative refresh, don't wait til your team is on deadline to prove that they can execute the new look. Run test shoots and build team-wide confidence that the new style will be executable and scalable in your studio.

Emphasize Emotions Over Destinies in Your Shot List

It's natural to shoot with an end use in mind; here's our shot list for the social, campaign, and so on. And in general, pre-planning is essential for maximizing your studio's resources. But when re-establishing your creative identity, it helps to shoot first and place later, Heather notes.

"We dropped [images] into a wireframe so we could visualize what that would look like on our product display page, on our product grid, in our app-we did all of that," she says. "Anything you could think of we did, and we threw it into this presentation deck like, 'Hey, this is what we would like to do, this is what we've accomplished.' Really the whole point is to be able to use this content across multiple channels, right? So we mocked this content as our editorial header banner on our site and in a paid ad, and on social. We presented what it'd look like and mocked it up across all channels."

While such repurposing might seem like it was left to luck, the truth is that Heather and her team set out with the intention to turn PDP shoots into multi-channel content. "We've had a goal to utilize PDP imagery across 35% of our creative, but we've far surpassed that," she says. So for your studio's reimagining, be open-minded with your shoots yet intentional about achieving cross-functioning, resource-maximizing shoots that deliver your visual voice.

For more of Heather's talk with Daniel, hear the entire podcast episode on Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, or the website.