Using a photographic image communicates a message quicker than plain text. A photograph also triggers emotions that are associated with a specific message. If you have a brand and a “voice”, how do you tell people who you are and what you do? In this article I will explain 4 ways you can direct your message with photography.
Direct your message through composition.
Composition is the easiest way to tell a specific message. If the photograph is of you then always make room for text. Having portraits taken in a landscape orientation with the subject off center makes it easier. This will allow for plenty of room to have a written message. In this way the composition channels the eye to the message that is being conveyed. If the photograph is of a person looking directly at the viewer it looks like they are stating the message. Sometimes, a portrait is not so direct and the subject is doing something in a specific situation. In this case, the message is interpreting the story or the emotion of the image.
When the camera is turned it is important to be conscious of your background. You have opened up space to tell a story with words. Make sure the background is one tone or is flat and uncluttered. Trees or brick walls may work fine, but if you have too much going on the text could get hard to read. A good commercial photographer will understand the various uses of photography based on composition and orientation. Make sure whoever you hire has a diverse portfolio. Find out ahead of time if you’ll get all variations to choose from when viewing your final portraits.
Show your audience what it looks like to work with you.
One of the most common ways to attract new clients is to show them who you are and what you do. It can be as simple as just smiling behind your desk. In this case, they see you in your office and you look professional, friendly, and helpful. If your environment is relevant to the work you do than you should showcase it. For example, a woodworker working in their workshop. Others shown above are an energy worker working with their client and a massage therapist.
The environment also communicates what you do or the feel of the situation you are in. Even if a portrait is a Headshot, the background and your personality tells the story. If the camera is closeup and the background is less obvious and blurred the environment is still communicating that feeling, it is implied. The brain may interpret the background as nature, or industrial or in a public setting. If someone is sitting in a cafe you may see them as outgoing and social. Maybe this person meets their clients at a cafe to consult with them. An industrial building on the other hand, will feel corporate and professional, as if someone just stepped out of their office. Understanding who your customer is and knowing in advance what feeling you want to portray will help to attract the customer you want.
Show them the results and the life they want to live.
Another way you can direct your message is to show your customer how it is now and how it will be. You are directly showing them the end result and the problem you are solving for them. Quite literally told an image that showcases a before and after can make a profound message for someone “suffering” from something.
Sometimes the problem they are struggling with may not be as easily interpreted. In this case one is photographed in a manner that suggests the end result or lifestyle you know your client wants. This type of messaging implies that if they work with you they will transform to that ideal. Plus, if you are living the life they want, they are more likely to hire you. Communicate ones absolute desires. Living in the lap of luxury, happy, energetic and free… show them what they want.
Conceptualize your story or idea.
Conceptualizing a specific idea to go along with your message can have a poignant effect on the viewer. If you have a great message it may be easy to figure out what the visual story is. However, it is not always that obvious, and sometimes, it’s better to not be so literal. This type of imagery can spark the imagination of your viewer which makes them more memorable. Without a caption your audience can come up with their own story and their own conclusion. The above photograph could be about the mystery of meeting a new love or an effective campaign for domestic violence.
Creating a conceptual photograph is difficult when you don’t know how to do it or who to hire. If you are hiring a photographer make sure they are also very graphically savvy in doing composites and masking. If you’re hiring a graphic artist make sure you are elemental in choosing the right stock imagery to create it. The photograph above I created using 3 photographs and masking them together in layers then created an overall graphic effect. The image was for a song title by Bri Payne called My Love.