Photos That Maximize Content Impact


By Imprint Team Photographs have superpowers when it comes to evoking emotions. A single picture can spark wonder, warm hearts, invite laughter, inspire…

By Imprint Team

Photographs have superpowers when it comes to evoking emotions. A single picture can spark wonder, warm hearts, invite laughter, inspire confidence, and stir thought. In appreciation of World Photography Day on August 19, we asked our Creative Director Ashley Brenner and Art Director Craig Gartner to focus on how they make sure photos maximize the impact of content. Here’s what developed.

What goes into your image selection process?

Brenner: Whether we’re shooting original pictures or using photo libraries, we consider various criteria, but always start with the intended audience. We keep in mind the tone and the specific message clients want to come through in the visual language. We also keep humanity and empathy in mind and consider what people are going through. A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but there are times when an image seeks to evoke salient key words, whether it’s optimism, expertise, or innovation. 

Gartner: There’s a lot of detective work. Finding photos that precisely convey a client’s message is like mining for gold. Sometimes success comes by being literal when you search. Sometimes it takes a more imaginative or metaphoric approach. 

Has COVID-19 changed the process?

Brenner: Yes, it has added another emotional layer that we need to be conscientious and thoughtful about. It goes back to the idea of having empathy.

Can you tell when a photo is, well, picture perfect?

Brenner: The words are the brand’s voice. Words matter. Visuals matter. It’s not one or the other. When they marry up and become something interconnected with each other is when messaging becomes very clear and very impactful. For a story about small business owners working during the pandemic we ask ourselves, what does that look like? It could look like people further apart from each other and people with masks on. It could look like business owners going into their store by themselves or talking with people on the phone or by videoconferencing. It could show contactless payments. Those are the kinds of behaviors that can come across through pictures.

Gartner: If the copy can speak to key words and then the photos speak to the copy it creates one beautiful, connective stream. That’s the goal. For a story about smart financial moves to make for the future, one possible visual could show trails diverging in a forest, with one going left and one going right to suggest the need for decision-making.

Do clients help narrow choices for visuals?

Brenner: All clients want to make sure that visual imagery and tonality differentiates them, so there are definitely individual client styles. Some prefer straightforward visual approaches, while others take a less literal route. Depending on the preference, one headline, such as “How to Make the Most of your Retirement,” leads to a variety of perspectives and picture opinions. A literal choice could be a closeup of an older couple enjoying a happy moment. A metaphoric choice might suggest the life journey and show the couple walking up a hill. 

Is there one overarching mandate for visuals?

Gartner: Authenticity, above everything, is what’s essential right now. In a story about what the office of the future might look like, for instance, images showing a large cluster of people wouldn’t be appropriate, but a photo of people giving each other an elbow bump instead of shaking hands could address the current reality. Nothing should look pat, set up, or contrived. If you have a relatable photo that looks like you could have been in that picture, and it has the client brand firmly and distinctly in mind, then you’ve got your picture.

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