It’s not every day that a local business owner calls and asks if you would like to do a product photography shoot for an advert they are placing in Vogue magazine. As a photographer, that opportunity takes a little time to get your head around! Through chatting, I learned how her business grew. It really struck me how a single photograph could make a huge impact on a small business if the right people see it: the power of an image.
After the thunderbolt of learning that any photographs I took may well end up in Vogue magazine, things got even better when I discovered that Bellybambino, the business I would work with, was one of the most creative, innovative and friendly local businesses I’ve come across since starting to shoot for commercial business clients as ETT Photography.
Who is Bellybambino?
Bellybambino is a unique brand of handmade, seagrass belly baskets, designed for kids. They are perfect as toy and blanket storage and make an eye-catching display when grouped together. Helen Chapman, a Norfolk mum of three, conceived the idea for the business. She launched Bellybambino on-line in May 2019.
The business had seen an exponential increase in interest in their product. This has been down to great marketing, styling and flair. I found them a wonderful source of inspiration for my own business.
How Bellybambino grew: the power of an image
Helen explained that shortly after launch she realized that the large size basket perfectly fitted into Ikea’s best-selling ‘Kallax’ unit. She tagged a photo of this to IKEA UK on Instagram. The company then shared the photograph with its 991,000 followers. Helen recalls that the orders came flooding in. This led to House and Garden asking Helen if Bellybambino could feature in their October 2019. Helen immediately accepted. Sister magazine Vogue followed suit, asking Bellybambino to be part of their ‘Vogue’s Little Lambs’ feature and including the brand in Vogue Retail and online at Vogue.co.uk.
The business recently won Gold at the ‘Made for Mums Awards’ for best nursery accessory. As a result Bellybambino has now sold over 2000 baskets worldwide including America, Australia, Asia and Europe. Helen explained to me she is looking to scale up the business and offer a wholesale option going forward too. The most popular designs are animals. The tiger, and recently launched lion basket, are their best sellers.
I looked at Bellybambino’s Instagram feed during my planning for the shoot. It’s no accident that the business has achieved so much success. The products are fun, quirky, practical and very endearing, instantly making any home more cheerful and playful. The brand is strong and identifiable. The power of an image is very evident here and also the selection of colourful photographs reflects the practicality of the product across a range of settings.
The Photoshoot for Bellybambino
When I arrived at Helen’s house I discovered Helen had already styled for the photo shoot. She had chosen a corner of a bedroom which was bright and airy with a plain background. This was perfect planning by Helen. She incorporated some of her best-selling products together with and several of her children’s own toys. This suggested to customers how to use the baskets and how they can brighten up a child’s bedroom. This enabled me to focus on getting the equipment set up quickly. So after a check on ambient light, setting up the studio lights, and choosing a lens, I started photographing immediately.
Helen wanted her children to feature in the shoot (booked for January 2020 – long before COVID-19 virus hit Norfolk). The weather was chilly and Helen’s lovely little ones were poorly with lingering colds. The hairband was a bit of a cause of frustration too! We persuaded them that jumping in and out of the beautiful baskets was good fun. Then the shoot flew by in no time.
After the photoshoot, I edited the images and sent a selection to Helen. Immediately she chose her preferred photographs and requested I make some minor edits. I completed these straight away. Then Helen emailed the final versions to Vogue. We were both super excited when the on-line and print versions appeared. It prompted a very swift shopping trip to the nearest newsagent for me! We were both very pleased with how the advertisement stood out on the printed page in the magazine. Vogue selected it as the first of 14 products listed for children, in the online version.
The moral of the story … the power of an image
Helen’s story resonated with me because it took just one photograph for her brand to get established. She was confident in her approach to Ikea and this was the turning point. She highlighted an opportunity to work collaboratively with an idea that would benefit both businesses. And, crucially, Helen had taken the time to test their products with her own and so proved the concept. This meant Ikea didn’t need to repeat the test. She also impressed me as she was not afraid to contact the ‘big boys’ in the marketplace. The message is, be clever in your approach and use subtlety rather than a hard-sell. Using a simple ‘tag’, worked wonders for Bellybambino and the product spoke for itself. Then sit back and wait for your legion of new customers to find you. The power of an image.
I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with Helen and she kindly also gave me a 5-star review on Google:-
If you would like to see more of Helen’s amazing creations, head over to her beautiful website at Bellybambino.com .
You may also be a business owner like Helen with a great product. You may think the photographs of your product don’t do it justice. If so, contact ETT Photography for a review of your website images here. I will be more than happy to help!