Do your pictures speak a thousand words?

Industry news

So we know they’re meant to speak a thousand words, but how often do your organisation’s pictures speak closer to 300?

Let’s think about the number of times we’ve flicked through an annual report, glanced over a website, speed-scrolled through a Facebook feed or absent-mindedly leafed through a pamphlet. The unfortunate truth is that for the average, modern day consumer your well-crafted sentences just might not cut it - unless accompanied by a picture that reaches out and grabs your reader by the girdle.

Beach with swimmers

Whether you’re compiling a newsletter or managing your own blog, strong images are a surefire way to talk to people about your activities. They speak volumes about an organisation’s motivations and priorities, and let readers draw their own conclusions about just how great the work you’re doing is.

But while that’s all well and good, getting that picture can be the tricky part. Not every budget has room for a professional photographer on standby, or a Getty Images license. And more often than not those iPhone pictures taken out on the field don’t seem to come out quite as well as hoped.

Swimmers in sea

So here are our top five tips for a DIY effective photo – one that you own the copyright for.

  1. Notice the details, and get in close. It’s easy to think that capturing all the action means taking a really wide shot, when actually the details of a moment can be far more powerful. A facial expression filling your frame will say more than a crowd shot ever could.
  2. Change your perspective. Most photographs are taken from the same angle. Try crouching down or getting some elevation and your pictures will become far more dynamic. But keep your camera as still as possible, a challenge with a smartphone or small point-and-shoot, but a must-do for a picture that’s in focus.
  3. See the light, Don’t take a picture in front of a window! Use the available light to your advantage. Is there some shade you can use for dramatic effect? Or a soft evening glow that will make your picture look like it’s been run three times through Instagram filters?
  4. The rule of thirds. Visualise your frame cut up into thirds by a grid of horizontal and  vertical lines. Then line your subject up against one of these cross-sections. This is a fairly simple principle that will help the composition and balance of your shots.
  5. Variety is the spice of life. Use a whole mix of pictures in your literature and online. Action, scene-setters, close-ups and portraits will all add to the dynamism of your social media feed or paper publication.
  6. If all else fails. For organisations who don’t need a monthly license,Shutterstock offer a 25-image deal for a relatively reasonable price. Used wisely over the course of a year, some well-timed commercial images can be a good investment and might just give you the graphic grab you need.