Have you caught the Pinterest bug? Can’t stop sharing your Instagram photos? Addicting, isn’t it? Well, you’re not alone. Today’s consumers and Internet users are seriously image obsessed. We want to see and share pics as often as possible. We love images!
These trends are telling us something…but what?
Worth A Thousand Words
You’ve probably heard the old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It’s true! In years past, designers knew that finding the right image hooks the viewer: it grabs their attention and illustrates a point more quickly. The right image has always meant the difference between an interested consumer and a person who walks on by without reading the advertisement.
And not only that, but the right image differentiates you from a thousand other similar companies out there. Great images greatly improve how your target market perceives your brand. And all these new sites and apps are changing the Internet by changing how we interact with content, and even how we make buying decisions.
Images are Connections
So if people want images, give the people what they want! If you’re doing it right, you’re choosing images that speak to your audience in a profound way. You speak to their hearts. You connect with your target audience quickly, effectively, and in a meaningful way.
Plus, photos provide “real life” information about you, your business, and your products and services. More and more often, consumers are researching products online. People want to find real opinions from likeminded individuals, plus, they want to (and they do!) form their own opinions on products and services based on real images.
How YOU can make Connections
Unique Images (Best!)
The best way to get the perfect photo is to hire a professional photographer to capture it. Yes, this can be costly and time consuming. After all, you want to find the perfect photographer too: someone who matches the professional style of your brand. But the cost is worth it if you really want to stand out in a sea of companies that all use generic stock photography.
You can do it yourself, but if you’re not a professional photographer, quality could be a concern. I know your smartphone has a camera in it, but that doesn’t mean your photos have the professional look your clientele will relate to. If you believe that you’re good enough on your own, remember these keys to a great photo: it should tell a story, it should be authentic, and it should come from the heart.
If you have to go the stock imagery route, avoid overused stock imagery. (Check with the lesser-known sites, sometimes you’ll find a gem.) Always read the fine print when it comes to sites that say their images are “Royalty-Free” or “Copyright-Free” to be safe from copyright laws. Also, Flickr is another great alternative to the big photo stock sites. But since the photographer owns these images, you need to make sure you pay close attention to any restrictions and use only Creative Commons licensed images.
Ordinary to Extraordinary!
Here are some ways to take your images from ordinary to extraordinary:
- People pay more attention to a detailed image, so always shoot or select high-resolution images.
- People (especially women) react to faces and genuine facial expressions, especially when they can clearly see the eyes.
- When a person isn’t looking at the camera, be aware of their line of site. The line of site is an invisible line that your viewer will follow from the person’s eyes to where that person is looking. Are you pointing your reader towards important text? Or are you pointing them off the page?
- Don’t be afraid to crop out the uninteresting bits of a photo. Focus on the real emotion (or, in this case, the action).
- Use your brand colors in your photos. If there are people in your photos, dress them (or later manipulate clothing colors) so that your brand colors are reiterated there too.
- Other image ideas, besides photography: charts/graphs, flowcharts, maps, screenshots, and guides. Infographics are all the rage right now. Regardless of the type of image, it should always be easy to consume, comprehensive, and well designed.
“In a landscape where everyday marks a cutthroat battle for attention, images are becoming as essential as text to professional bloggers, web publishers and businesses alike.” Check out this blog post from Adam Singer on Shutterstock for his insights on why images are so vital for your blog, your business, and your brand.
Want to know more about stock photography? Here’s a great blog article called The Complete Guide to Using Images in Your Blog Posts.