Chapter 13: Visual Messaging
Professional communicators use photography in many forms to share information: publicity photos in an ad, Instagram images and filters, environmental or headshot photos for a news release or website. Photos add interest and people often “read” photos more than words, especially in formats like social media. Media outlets also need visuals, so including photography can increase the likelihood that your news will be published.
The photos below, taken by The Wonder Jam team, come from the same photo shoot for Otto Skin Goods, but each photo has a different strategic purpose and use. The goal of the first photo is to demonstrate how the products are made on a website landing page.
The second photo was intended to show texture and the final products on a large scale because it appears on a large display pillar for in-person trade shows.
Considerations for amateur photographers:
- Technical quality matters. Take and share photos at the highest possible resolution to achieve good contrast and sharp details. Know when the needed photographs require professional-grade equipment or a trained photographer.
- There are different photos for different purposes. Be clear whether the goal is a head shot photo for a website biography, a grip-and-grin photo of award winners receiving their awards or Instagram-worthy behind-the-scenes candid images. In general, avoid photos of large groups of people and seek to show activity in the photos.
- Keep composition in mind. Think about how to frame the picture and give yourself some options. Lehman says to get closer and get more angles. Get a really wide image or a square image. Or take a wider shot and crop it in later. Take photos from unusual angles to generate interest. If the size or shape of something in the photo is important, compose the shot with something in the scene that helps show the scale.
- Lighting can make or break the photo. Natural light is a friend to amateur photographers. Lehman recommends seeking out natural light, especially on a phone camera, to make images feel bright, real and authentic. It also eliminates indoor shadows. Keep in mind that outdoor light is very different based on time of day and location. Noon sun is very bright and flat. Photos shot in the early morning or especially late in the day just before sunset can have dramatic shadows and highlighted areas.
- Rein in the filter selection. Lehman says consistency is key with photographs for a brand, and this extends to the use of filters. If you choose to apply a filter in Instagram or another program, stick with that filter so the images look familiar over time and don’t shift from warmer to cooler.