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The Art of the Business


 Almost everyone deals with Heaven in Earth through the web site. If that’s not how you found out about us, you likely have come there to place an order or see what else we’ve got. And what you see — how it looks — is no accident.

Heaven in Earth’s site has a distinct aesthetic — lush, homey and tactile. Much of that reflects founder Jocelyn Van Hoven’s sense of style, but a good deal of it is thanks to photographer Lance Nelson. He’s had a long, varied and accomplished career in Australia and around the world — accomplished enough for the National Library of Australia to archive his work. And conveniently, he’s also Jocelyn’s stepfather. 

It’s convenient both because he lives nearby with Jocelyn’s mother, Jill Beyer, and because they can talk easily and openly about how they want a shot to look.

“It’s all Jocelyn’s overall vision,” Lance said. “We usually try and work it out and talk it out.”

Although Lance said he tries to maintain a cohesive look for the photography on the site, Jocelyn said the goal for each shot varies, depending “on whether we are showing the bristles on a brush or the shine on the steel.”

 

Cup brush

It’s important to Jocelyn to show products in context. Many commercial web sites follow the photographic lead set by Amazon, showing the item for sale in isolation, flatly lit. Jocelyn went the opposite way.

“For us, and I think for Lance as well, it doesn’t involve you emotionally,” Jocelyn said of the typical web site.

The emphasis on natural light, strong composition and context lets the customer make a connection with each Heaven in Earth product, whether it’s a bottle brush, a wool duster hanging in Jill and Lance’s home or scissors next to the branch they’ve trimmed.

Door wedge Arcorn

“I try to control the quality of the composition and quality of the lighting,” Lance said. “You have to show the product clearly.”

After a career largely spent working with film, Lance said he relishes both working close to home and in digital photography, free of the darkroom at last. 

“These days it is so easy to a good picture, technically,” he said. “It’s not so easy to take a great picture aesthetically.”

Generally, he said he leaves the styling of each shot to Jocelyn, although they said he resists when Jocelyn tries to cram a shot with too many items.

As for whether it makes a difference in sales, Jocelyn says she has no idea, and and it doesn’t matter anyway. She said, “Heaven in Earth has always been about what I like,” and it’s more important to her that the site and the photos on it look right.


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