Alexander Wang Trudy Lambskin Tote, $875 via Bergdorf Goodman

Somehow, the two photos above are of the same bag, the Alexander Wang Trudy Lambskin Tote. They’re also from the same website, BergdorfGoodman.com. And yet, they’re completely different. One is an insightful peek at what a bag might look and feel like in person, and the other can best be described as an impediment to making those decisions. Unfortunately, the latter is what most websites provide when we’re trying to decide if we want to spend hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on a handbag. So what gives? Why can’t stock photos be better?

Unquestionably, the king of stock photos among the big online retailers is Net-a-Porter. The site provides clear, large, accurate shots of multiple angles for every product, including the all-important closure mechanisms on its handbag pages. The images are so well done, in fact, that I always check Net-a-Porter first when I want to write about a piece; good photos are essential to a fashion post. It seems as though other websites often do the same thing, which leads to lots of free publicity for Net-a-Porter. You’d think that other websites would be champing at the bit to get in on that game.

Apparently not, though. Would it kill Saks, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorfs to give us a few more angles and some well-lit shots in exchange for our hard-earned dollars? They all have beautiful feature photography on their sites and are almost certainly employing professional photographers to take their regular stock photos, and the extra effort would be much appreciated by those of us sitting on the other side of the computer. A precision zoom tool doesn’t do much good if the texture and feel of the bag aren’t evident from the way that the photo was shot, and not even the largest photo can show you how a bag closes or what it looks like inside if the only picture provided is from the front.

I’d much rather have the bag in the first photo than the bag in the second, wouldn’t you? Buy through Bergdorf Goodman for $875.

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  • Cate

    You know, I’m generally not a fan of Alexander Wang’s bags, but this one is such a beautiful color!

  • Max

    I likw the zipper around the bag but does it actually functional or just decoration? love the color BTW

  • Brandy

    I agree about the first photo. I like that is doesn’t seem so structured, but is a bit more slouchy.

    And I love the zippers and the color.

  • Lulugurl

    I agree about the photos! I can not tell you how many times I have gone “ugg” at the stock photos, only to see one of the lovely tFP-ers with a bag and mod shots and theirs are so amzaing! I love the Net-A-Porter puts a “mod” shot in most of their listings, some bags you really need to see it on a person to make a good decision about it..

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

      I agree – seeing the scale of a piece, particularly a bag, can be so important. NAP really has the whole stock photo game down to a science, I always feel like I know what a bag will look like in person when I shop through their site. I can’t say that most other websites give me that same feeling.

    • Kat

      I was just about to say that! Because even if they provide a bag’s measurements, seeing it on an actual person makes all the difference.

      And the picture on the left makes the bag look like it’s not made of leather.

      http://dontaskmetosmile.wordpress.com

  • BHal

    I would buy the bag in picture no.1. Not the bag in picture no.2. The color is more vibrant and the bag has more slouch in 1. It also shows the extra strap. Unfortunately I live in small town USA and cannot try most bags in person. Must rely on the internet.

  • ninjaninja

    This is why I do pic hunts if I’m buying online. But nothing compares to actually holding it in your hands.

  • Leah

    I completely agree! I love NAP’s photos!

  • 19yearslater

    I completely agree. I love NAP’s photo options and I like the bag in the first photo here, though it looks drab in the second.

  • caitlin1214

    The bag in the second photo looks too sterile, like “You can look but you can’t touch.”

    The bag in the first photo looks more natural. It would look how you would imagine it looking if you just set the bag on a chair.

  • Purse Pixie

    I totally agree. It is amazing how different a purse can look in photos. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like the same bag!

  • Meihua

    What a great example – yep, the first photo is much more appealing! The Net-A-Porter photos are the best. I like Bluefly photo dimensions and some of the shading they do. This is a great looking Alexander Wang handbag that I’d consider, but maybe in a different color, preferably black.

  • Diana

    Agreed!!!! It really irratates me that these sites like Neimans, Barney’s, Bergdorfs, etc rarely have more than 2 photos of a bag. Usually it’s a side shot and a front shot, but what about the interior? I think that one drives me nuts the most since I like to have pockets inside which is something that tends to lack on bigger designer bags.

    I actually find it sort of pathetic that some discount sites offer more photo options than these sites.

    Zappos is someone else who offers excellent photos from all directions. I actually like ordering shoes & bags from them since I can get a top down view of shoes (important for trying to figure out width) as well as the interior shots & model shots of bags.

    Model shots go a long way.

    • Lisa

      If a designer couldn’t get a model (not using myself), would a well-drawn sketch of a woman wearing the real product work for you?

  • DJ

    I think both photos show the bag fairly, b/c the first one shows the slouch look and the second shows how it’s put together. Based on the 2nd photo I know the bag won’t work for me. First photo is deceptive imo.

  • The Little Dust Princess

    Stock photos are so important when it comes to online shopping. I mean, online stores should know that providing quality photos is key to retaining their clientele, as well as gaining new ones. I’ve had bad experiences with purchasing online before…when the website showed something as red, but I received orange. *sigh*

  • rose60610

    I’d never guess that these were the same bags. You’d think the manufacturer would be upset at the retailers that show unflattering photos. On the other hand, the purpose of a retailer is to sell as much as possible. Why on earth would a store willingly show terrible pictures? Why waste the money?

  • Cathy Fitz

    I completely agree and found this post really interesting. I like how Luna Boston describes the feel and structure of the leathers on most bags, and have various shots of the bag, both alone and being worn/carried. I also need to see the inside and have an idea of strap drop.

  • LauraJ

    NM photos annoy me to no end. I especially hate when they do not show the interior of bags and wallets. I have noticed, too, that some bags are lacking size dimensions…so frustrating!

    • rose60610

      So true

  • Lisa Stewart

    Thanks for the commentary on photos. Being relatively new to the handbag market, I crave honest reviews because I want to show everything a customer wants. I’ll be studying Net-a-Porter more closely!

    How many photos on average do you believe you need to make an educated purchase?

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