Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Church Planting at the Houston Medical Center

Friday, August 21, 2009

Celebrating 10 years of "The Week In Pictures"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Informative or Just Eye Candy?

Before our children could even read, they could identify restaurants by their logo. Our oldest son was in the back seat singing “… the Simpsons,” when he saw a sky with a lot of cumulus clouds. Most everyone involved in communications understands how the audience is enticed by images.

Sometimes logos conjure up other thoughts. For many folks ATT’s logo is called the “death star.” This is another topic for another time though.

For many people working as communicator for corporations, nonprofits, or in the media they see the visual as the “hook” to their written story. The concept of using visuals as “eye candy” is a way to make you stop and at least start to read the article.

Love her or hate her, Catherine Zeta-Jones helped shape the image of T-Mobile during her first run with the company. To celebrate the launch of their Mobile Makeover advertising campaign, she's back again. The ads use her as the “eye candy.”

No question this works in advertising, but how does it go over with corporate communications or journalism?

My opinion is that those that use imagery as “eye candy” are like the tabloids or car magazines with women on the hood of the car. This approach must work or these types of media wouldn’t be doing so well financially. However, they are not taken seriously for their content.

You can use the imagery as the message itself and not just a hook. In journalistic example are the photos of the Twin Towers being hit by the airplanes or on fire? Michael Phelps touching the wall first with others still behind him is another example.

In journalistic media we also see visual “hooks.” We see mug shots which accompany an article, but tell us nothing about what the story is about. How is this a hook? On sports pages peak action moments showing the looser looking like they won is a hook.

I’ve learned the best images leave the viewer asking a question. “Why are the Twin Towers on fire?” is the question people asked when they turned on their televisions. It kept us glued to the coverage to understand and help us heal. Is this the photo of Michael Phelps winning the 8th gold medal or what race is it?

We can learn from the “eye candy” photography. If the image is interesting and has visual impact it will hook the reader. You need to surprise your audience. I have talked about this in past e.newsletters. Getting a unique perspective like a worm’s eye view or the bird’s eye view is a great “hook.” Making photos from the standing position straight on all the time is what amateurs do. You can make an informative intriguing image of most content to help tell the story with your images.

I shoot for different audiences. I often shoot for Associated Press, magazines, corporate publications, websites, college recruiting and alumni publications, and many other mediums.

When I shoot for AP, I must tell the story in one photo. I must shoot tight, which means close-up and filling the frame. The users of AP images may run the picture really small and will not want to use the photo if it isn’t close-up. It needs to have impact. They may run it on a front page of a paper to help tell the story, and sell the newspaper.

At an event where an AP photographer is there and I am there shooting for a magazine, I have to take a different approach. By the time a magazine comes out the readers will have seen the AP images of the event. My coverage must be more than one impactful image. I have a variety of angles, from close-up, to medium and overall shots of the story. I will use lighting to help influence the image even more.

I am shooting a lot of multimedia packages lately which require 30 – 60 images for a 2-minute piece to run on a website. I need photos like I would do for a magazine, and I need transition photos. I need photos of noises you may hear in the audio to help the audience understand those noises are seagulls in the background near the subject. You still need strong images, but they can help tell the story and compliment the audio.

Most communicators today are using the same content in multiple places. They send out a printed newsletter, post it on a blog, put it on a website, or send out an e.Newsletter . All of the pieces point to the website where more content and images can be placed, than before this existed.

If you do a good job of telling the story using visuals you will now have just started telling your story. That’s right—just started. People like to be in dialogue and comment on your stories on-line. This outlet wasn’t available in print.

In the most recent Scientific American Magazine there was an article on Celiac Disease. When you went to their website the article was there as well, but now will comments like this, “The illustrations in this article delivered to my mailbox today, allow the complexities of the science of gluten intolerance to be easily understood by everyone.” Here is a link for you http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=celiac-disease-insights&page=6.

Is your material getting as many comments as this article? Are your visuals helping your audience to understand the topic? Using visuals effectively and not just as a visual “hook” will improve how your message is communicated.

Stanley is available as a consultant to help you improve your visual communication for your organization. Give him a call or email him to set up a time for him to work with your team.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shooting Slide Shows: Behind the Scene With Stanley

Nikon D3, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 w/ 1.4 converter, ISO 200, ƒ/5, 1/1600
This is a really simple way to do Slide Shows with audio. I prefer interview people as I did here. Watch the first one which shows what I did for a client and the second one is some photos of me shooting the package by my friend Ken Touchton.

Watch this one first

Then watch how I did it.