3 Elements of a Good Marketing Photograph

October 10, 2010

Image via Flickr user nayukim.

Designers are commonly asked to "play art director" and select a photo for inclusion on a client's website, or in a brochure or other marketing piece. It's crucial to find just the right photo that fits in with the rest of the design and conveys the right message. Here are some elements to look for when you are selecting a photograph for marketing purposes: 1. An interesting focus Pay attention to where the camera's focus is. A photograph that displays crisp detail across the entire landscape of the image will not generally work for marketing purposes. Look for blurred edges, and a focus that makes any of the dominant people or objects seem a bit more anonymous. If the focus is right, you should look at the photo and think, "That's a person in a business suit" and not, "Hey that guy looks just like my cousin Mike!" 2. Appropriate lighting and tone Where is this image going to be used? On an all black background of a website? On light gray brochure? For a lighter background, an image saturated with bright light may work, but on a darker background, choose a darker image. Also get to know your client's style. Check out the client's website, blog or other marketing materials where photographs are used. You'll be able to get a better idea of whether they prefer "bright and airy" or "dark and enigmatic." 3. The right facial expression and body language For photographs featuring people, pay attention to the model's expression. You want the face and body language to look natural, not posed and forced. I am tired of seeing brochures with photos of two ecstatically grinning, stiff businessmen shaking hands, their elbows completely straight and locked.  Eye contact is another big issue. I find it best for the subjects to be gazing out just passed the camera, but not making direct eye contact. In special cases, however, an image where the model makes eye contact with the camera may work, for example, in images used to convey great customer service.

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