Junk mail and even bills, correspondence and newsletters are filled with Ho Hum photos that do nothing to grab our attention. How much more effective it would be to use more dynamic and entertaining imagery, and how much better to shoot with those clients in mind!
Overwhelmed, Overworked and Ho Hum Photos
I was somewhat mindlessly going through my stacks of neglected mail, feeling a tad overwhelmed and overworked, but not giving in to stress, when I paused to actually look at some of the photography incorporated into the bills, solicitations and purported newsletters piled before me. It occurred to me that I was in exactly the state that many people would be in while looking at their daily mail. Perhaps I could get some insight into stock photos by really looking at the ones being used by my potential clients. The photos were all pretty ho hum. Pictures of happy faces wearing headsets, talking on cell phones, riding bikes on sunny afternoons and enjoying just standing in an idyllic family unit.
A Chance That I Might Read The Copy
Nice pictures…all of them, but nothing more. Why were those particular photos chosen? And did it really make any difference? Was a great photo on my Pacific Gas and Electric bill going to make any more of an impact than an ordinary one? I don’t think so. I tried to imagine whether a jaw-dropping photo would compel me to some action any more than the boring photos that were being used. I couldn’t imagine that it would make any difference, at least in these communications. What about eliminating the photography altogether? I can’t imagine that either. Having some kind of visual does seem preferential to me over just plain type. Without a photo on the printed piece I believe I would find myself repelled by all those endless, uninterrupted blocks of copy. At least with a photo there is a chance that I might read the accompanying copy. And as I think about it just a bit more, it does occur to me that if there was a photo that truly connected with me or entertained me, and was germane to something I was actually interested in, it could catch my eye just enough to get me to peruse the copy.
Photos That Connect and Planning Your Photo Shoots
What did I get from this exercise? That much of the photography out there is only marginally important. There is a need for all of those pictures of customer support people with their happy smiles and headsets. But there certainly isn’t any reason for companies to be paying premium amounts for such photos, as blasphemous as that sounds. But I also realized that a photo that did connect with me in some way could make a difference…even in a junk mail scenario. So which kind of client do I want to be serving, creating imagery for…the client that reaches for that extra something, or just fills the slot with any old photo? That is something to think about when planning your photo shoots.
About the author
John Lund has been shooting professionally for over 30 years. John was an early adopter of Photoshop, first using version 1.0 in 1990. He began using digital capture in 1994. John has been active in the stock photography world as a founding member of BLEND IMAGES, and long time contributor to Getty Images, Corbis, and, more recently SuperStock.
John has lectured on digital imaging and stock photography, has been a columnist for PICTURE and DIGITAL IMAGING magazines, and written ADOBE MASTER CLASS, PHOTOSHOP COMPOSITING WITH JOHN LUND. John has been a frequent speaker at Photo Plus and other venues and has taught workshops at Palm Beach Workshops and Santa Fe Workshops. His work can be seen at www.johnlund.com