Insights

Up the Mountain: A Netrush Photoshoot

Eagle

Being based in the Pacific Northwest has its advantages. The Pacific Ocean is an hour and a half drive west, the donuts are amazing, and we’re at the doorstep of the Cascade Range. Spanning more than 700 miles north to south, the Cascades are almost entirely volcanic in origin, heavily forested with Douglas fir, and home to all 11,249 majestic feet of Mount Hood. A PNW icon, Mount Hood boasts year-round skiing and snowboarding, features the Timberline Lodge (its exterior made infamous in The Shining), and is a beacon to day-trekkers and technical climbers far and wide. At just fifty-some miles from door to slope, the Netrush photography team on location thought it was the perfect setting for a photo shoot for one of our sports and outdoor partners, Eagles Nest Outfitters (or ENO) and their Ember UnderQuilt for cold weather hammocking.

A Project with Purpose

The goal of our shoot was to capture images to populate the nine display windows with enhanced images for the Ember’s Amazon listing (the pictures you scroll through on your desktop computer or smartphone when researching a product). An important piece of the Amazon listing puzzle, these enhanced images provide an opportunity to visually educate potential consumers. It’s all about going the extra mile to provide shoppers with the best digital shopping experience possible. And if that means hiking a mile up a mountain, we’ll do it.

Hand-drawn shot list sketches created by the photography team.


Gearing Up

Generally, photo and video are shot onsite at the Netrush studio, located just off of the office pod that’s home to our writers, editors, production and graphic designers, project managers, and content strategists. Together, they generate unique content for our premium brand partners whose combined product SKUs number in the tens of thousands. Every month, the visual team alone captures, edits, and produces anywhere from five to ten thousand images. Behind its double doors and within its four walls, the studio is a hive of creativity and houses everything we need to bring our partner brands’ products into crystal clear focus on Amazon and beyond.

Hitting the Road

The day of the shoot, we set our sights for the Mirror Lake trailhead, a 2.1-mile round-trip hike located between Zigzag and Government Camp, Oregon. Along for the ride were Jeff Rockwell, creative director, Wilson Diaz, photographer, and Jackson Hathaway, digital marketing manager, bona fide outdoorsman, and our impromptu model for the day.

Jeff and Wilson packing Jackson’s gear.

After about forty-five minutes of walking and 600 feet of elevation gain, we came to the place. Just east and off of the trail was a natural vista overlooking the dip and roll of the mountains and the trees that stood on top of them. As previous trekkers had already made their way down the fifty-ish feet for the optimal view, we simply followed in their footsteps, photo gear and product tucked safely in our backpacks.

Setting the Scene


Jeff and Jackson building a fire in preparation for the shoot.

With the temperature hovering in the mid-twenties and with just a couple of hours to shoot, the team secured an ENO DoubleNest Hammock between a couple of Douglas fir. It was only minutes before Jeff and Wilson were able to crouch down and begin tearing through the shot list, at Jeff’s direction. Despite the subfreezing environment, the team worked as though they were in the comfort of the studio back in Vancouver, Washington.

For Jeff and Wilson, it was all about isolating the product while still capturing the environment. “We closed down the aperture to our desired focal length then adjusted the ISO [a mechanism that measures the sensitivity of the image sensor] and shutter speed to achieve the desired exposure,” they said. “Locking those settings in allowed us to use the shutter speed to control the look and feel of the shot sequence as we shot through the changing light of the afternoon.”

 

Jeff and Wilson shooting photos of Jackson in the Oregon wilderness.


The Finished Product

With the project wrapped, the team returned to the studio, where they began working on preparing the images. With Netrush investing in the principles of continuous improvement, we pivoted when it came to the construction of the new enhanced listing images. Originally, we shot and developed standard-sized images for ENO. This changed when we discovered that ENO products are primarily viewed and purchased on mobile devices. This led to converting previously shot images to vertical, smartphone-optimized versions that translate seamlessly on mobile platforms. For the Ember Quilt, the finished product ended up looking like this:


Enhanced listing images are coupled with content to answer common customer questions, reduce confusion, and encourage customer satisfaction.  


Going the Extra Mile

All told, our outdoor photoshoot took about three working hours, not accounting for travel on a traffic-free day. While we might have been able to replicate our chosen setting through visual trickery and postproduction magic, showcasing the product in the great outdoors brought a level of authenticity far beyond stock imagery. By taking advantage of the landscape and dedicating ourselves to catching the moment, the Netrush studio team was able to communicate visually what the product does and how it’s used in the context of a real-world setting.