More than merely expressing a thousand words, photos have the power to attract the attention of key audiences (or repel them), evoke emotion and initiate interaction with others.
Pictures have long-supported written content for public outreach, from heightening articles to enhancing marketing collateral to enriching advertisements and more. But today many of those visual images and, now, videos, have moved from secondary roles to starring ones, especially when it comes to digital communications.
Consider a HubSpot piece on visual content marketing that found people remember 65 percent of information they’ve seen after three days when the material is accompanied by an image, versus a 10 percent retention rate when the content appears without a visual.
As well, digital cameras and smartphones have eased the process of seeing and sharing photos and videos, contributing to the boom in photo-taking, with 1.2 trillion photographs taken by cameras and smartphones around the world in 2017.
But, of course, having a smartphone or digital camera, alone, no matter how easy it makes it to point-and-shoot a picture or video, doesn’t mean the resulting images will be media-worthy. Out-of-focus, skewed, poorly lit or otherwise poorly taken pictures and videos not only miss the mark visually, but also can detract from otherwise great messaging, causing companies to miss opportunities to connect with and engage potential customers.
Ensure the photographs and videos used in your media outreach make a high-impact impression with the following tips:
- Watch the light when outdoors. Avoid shooting photos of subjects in harsh direct sunlight, going for softer shaded areas or waiting for overcast days, instead. If possible take outdoor pictures in the softer light a few hours after sunrise and a few before sunset. Also, align the exposure setting of your smartphone or camera with the brightest area in the photo’s frame, likely the sky, for optimal brightness.
- Watch for windows when indoors. Light from windows help illuminate photos but avoid taking pictures directly into a window. Instead, position yourself behind or alongside a window. Move the photo’s subject around for the prime positioning and if there’s no light coming from the windows, brighten the environment and lessen the chance for blurred photos by turning on the lights.
- Think in thirds. Go for interesting compositions by framing photos in a three-part grid. Consider an off-center composition when appropriate and remember to leave a moderate amount of space above heads. Add to landscape depth by focusing on foreground objects.
- Play with perspective. Move around a bit for differing perspectives on the same subject, whether it’s an adult, child, animal, landscape or still object. Try focusing in from standing, sitting and kneeling positions, or climb on top of a chair.
- Refine people shots. If your smartphone or camera has a portrait mode, use it in well-lit environments when the potential for highly effective results is best. If possible, skip selfie mode and have someone take a front-facing photo of you and others to take advantage of the camera’s best attributes.
- Accessorize appropriately. Consider lens attachments to allow for a range of effects, including fisheye, wide angle and telephoto options.
- Take plenty of pictures. Improvement comes with practice, so take lots of pictures to amp up your ability to hone in on what works and doesn’t.
- Edit for maximum impact. Enhance your pictures by editing them as needed with your camera or smartphone’s editing app or through a third-party one, including refining the picture’s color, composition, brightness and sharpness.