I started my morning by laughing out loud at this post on unfortunate stock photography from HubSpot.
I’ve been hearing lots of photo chatter lately.
Some positive – like our friend Amber McCann’s shoutout to Patrice Jones’s new website. The photography is what makes Patrice’s site *sing*. I can immediately tell she is warm, caring, dynamic, and professional, without reading a word.
Some not so positive – others have been critical of stock photography, especially where one or two pictures are used to represent an entire profession.
Bottom line: photography matters. It’s the images that draw people in and send subtle (and not so subtle) ideas about who you are and who yo serve.
Here’s nine tips for effective photography for your website, blog and other digital campaigns:
1) Every picture needs a job.
Does the picture tell a story about your organization? Personalize the leadership? Show the proper use of a nipple shield? Demonstrate a laboring position? Explain who you serve?
2) Function is more important than beauty.
Test after test shows that people respond to lower-quality pictures that do their job (see point #1) and skip over ornamental pictures and images. If the picture doesn’t succeed at its job, shuttle it.
3) Consider hiring a photographer.
Especially one with photojournalism experience. Photographers are training to capture stories and know how to get pics with function *and* beauty. Not an option? Explore options for free or low-cost photography. Consider a barter (Patrice did one with Dolce photography). Or find some Creative Commons photography. But keep it honest and legal – never take pictures without permission and give appropriate photo credits.
4) Show real people.
The actual people in your organization and/or those you serve. Or people a lot like them. Research shows that people “tune out” stock photos unless they happen to do an important job. Which leads to point #5 . . .
5) Avoid stock photos, or at least stock photos that look really stock-ish.
First, the really powerful and low cost images of mothers and babies are popular. Unless you can afford to buy the rights (and if you can, why aren’t you hiring a photographer?) you run the risk of having the same visual identity as your competitor. Also, readers easily spot a stock photo and . . . skip over it.
6) Captions count.
Captions are 300% more likely to get read than the body copy. Make the caption count by hitting your key messages, especially important for readers who skim.
7) Double-check that images truly represent your community.
Spread out all the photos you plan to use. Do the images represent the full range of ages, gender expression, races, and ethnicities that make up your organization? In working on this blog, we were challenged to find sites that use images of women of color in the childbearing year. How can you be on the leading edge and show your full constituency?
8) Consider testing.
The photo you love might not be the same photo your target audience loves. You can do this the low tech way (show the image to a handful of folks in your target market) or the high tech way (learn about and do some A/B testing).
9) Watch and learn from those who do it well.
Watch for next week’s roundup of nine images from birth and breastfeeding sites to help you get inspired.