Elevating Furniture Catalogs with Silhouette and Lifestyle Imagery

Cover Image for Elevating Furniture Catalogs with Silhouette and Lifestyle Imagery
Rob Hayes
Rob HayesCEO & Founder

The best furniture product listings have a balance between practical and inspiration. We'll explore the essentials of merchandizing your home goods with great silhouette and lifestyle images.

When you're browsing online, searching for that perfect piece of furniture to complete your living room's design, what is it that grabs your attention? It's the product images. Beautiful furniture photography can speak directly to your customer and their home decor aspirations. The way that a couch, a wall clock, an armchair, or a dining room set is presented can make all the difference. Here we'll explore the two most important types of furniture photography for your e-commerce store, the silhouette and lifestyle photos.

What is the difference between silhouette and lifestyle photographs?

When you land of the catalog page of an online store and you see a side table, well lit, it’s colors and materials vibrant, set against a white background, this is the product silhouette image. It is a clean, uncut, uncluttered photo intended to spotlight the craftsmanship of the product. The silhouette is the quintessential 'product shot', designed to let the furniture speak for itself without any background noise. It’s all about the details—the grain of the wood, the weave of the fabric, the gloss of the finish.

On the other hand, lifestyle images are intended to tell a different story by placing our side table in situation, maybe at the cozy corner by a fireplace or in an airy sunroom with plants cascading beside it. These photos are intended to create a feeling and tell the story, suggesting how this piece of furniture can fit into the customer's life,m and the style and function of the home they're creating.

The function of the silhouette image

By stripping away all distractions, the silhouette furniture photograph will allow the customer to understand each of the product’s physical attributes in granular detail, such as its size, its colors, its material, its design, and its structure. This is essential for a customer, especially one who is buying online, to have full confidence in the product they're buying.

While it's extremely common for every product being sold online today to have a silhouette image available with it, not every silhouette image is created equal. The lighting, layout, and framing of a silhouette image can make the product more or less attractive, and in turn hurt or increase the sale of that product.

The benefits of lifestyle images

On the other hand, lifestyle images are intended to tell a story. They are the photographs that bring your e-commerce catalog to life. For your customer, these photos help to place each item of furniture into their imagined lives, setting the scenes that resonate with their style and inspiration for whatever home improvements they are making. Lifestyle images are critical for sparking the imagination of your customer and helping them see how each coffee table in your catalog would fit into their space and fit into their life.

Creating standardized silhouette images for products

Traditionally, for ecommerce marketplaces, you've had two choices when it comes to getting silhouette images for the furniture products you're selling:

  1. Photograph the products yourselves - Hire a photographer, bring all your products on site, and shoot each of them one-by-one in a consistent manner so that you can achieve a standardized look and style across your entire catalog online. The problem with this is extremely cost, time, and logistics intensive in order to generate that imagery across your catalog. And you will need to maintain this standard moving forward as your catalog continues to grow month-over-month as you onboard new products and new suppliers.
  2. Use the images supplied by vendors - It's common for a vendor to supply a silhouette image for every SKU onboarded to your online store. This can provide a quick and easy way to merchandise every piece of furniture in your catalog. The challenge with this is each vendor you have will have different lighting, cropping, backgrounds and image quality for the silhouette images they provide. Unfortunately, this will create an inconsistent experience in your online catalog where products look like they are all coming from separate sources and don't represent the look and feel for your brand.

With the introduction of new AI tools, there is a third option that will allow you to create the consistent look and style that you would get from a photoshoot, leveraging only the silhouette images provided by the vendors. To accomplish this, you can use the following functionality:

  • Background Removal - Remove any existing backgrounds from the vendor supplied product photos. This will give you a clean template for the product image on which to build a standardized silhouette photo.
  • Image Resizing - Reframe each cropped product image onto a consistently sized canvas, allowing you to control the dimensions and framing of the layout of each product. This will ensure that every couch is shown in the same size and proportions as every other couch on your website.
  • Product Shadows - Apply shadows to your product images to give them the appearance that they are being lit from a consistent light source across your entire catalog.
  • Background Color - Apply a standard background color to each product image in order to fit with the brand aesthetic of your online catalog. Or you can keep things with a neutral white background and let the products shine in their full glory!

Creating vibrant lifestyle photographs for your furniture

Creating lifestyle images is an even grander production. Traditionally you would require a full-blown product photo shoot with set design orchestrating your furniture into scenes that will tell visual stories that will resonate with your customers. For most online marketplaces, this is not realistic given the high effort, cost, and logistics involved in orchestrating this type of a photo shoot across a catalog of thousands of products.

With the support of AI-generated photography, you are able to to leverage your existing product silhouette images to generate the same high-quality outcome you would get from a professional photo shoot for just a fraction of the effort. For this, you can leverage the following tools:

  • Image References - Provide inspiration photos for the aesthetic, layout, lighting, and structure that you want your product's lifestyle images to adopt. This will help you create a consistent look and feel for all the lifestyle images you're creating.
  • Background Generation - layout your product image and describe the scene that should surround it and AI can take these inputs to generate a seamless image with your product in context to the room around it. You can effortlessly create multiple different layouts, designs, and aesthetics just by describing different scenes for AI to generate.

The importances of product photography for your product catalogue

Both types of photography, the silhouette and lifestyle photo, play a crucial role in getting your furniture sold. They are the most important tool to increase traffic and revenue for your e-commerce marketplace. As the technology continues to evolve, it offers you the ability to create high-end product images across your entire catalogs of thousands of SKUs for minimal cost and effort. In turn, you're creating a great experience for every customer that lands on your store.