‘A picture tells a thousand words’ was a term coined in the early 20th Century, loosely associated with an advertising campaign for the use of graphics and images in marketing and as with all good marketing the term has stuck around ever since. So, if a picture can tell a thousand words could more images tell a story? In truth, yes, images can tell a story, but like words, there comes a point when pictures become too numerous that the message is lost in transmission.
Because when it comes to photography, just being able to take a photograph isn’t the only skill you need, being critical and storytelling is also crucial. National Geographic photographers used to get together and hold viewing parties, some of the photographers had been on projects for two to three years, can you imagine how many rolls of film that was? However, each photographer would edit their images down to about 80 slides of the best images in the hope that they would be granted more than a two page spread by the editor. The editors would then look at the images and reduce these down to a further 20 and with a little bit of captioning there would be a story.
Why am I telling you this? I had a discussion with a business development consultant (BDC) who told me of a client who had produced their own website and happily snapped the vehicles, the team, etc. However, listening to the BDC it quickly became apparent that the client had forgotten something crucial when taking those pictures, they had forgotten their business story, they thought images of the shiny fleet would say it all, it didn’t, because the images are open to interpretation, it could have been anything. Telling the BDC that the images should tell a story, be a minimum of four to five images and a maximum of 20. The BDC turned to me and said ‘That sounds difficult!’
The truth, yes it can be, but this is the expertise you get when you employ a photographer to take the images. It is also why, when you ask to see a photographer’s portfolio there should be no more than 20 images, there should be structure, and your interest held throughout. If you are presented with a portfolio containing more than 20 images and when I say this I don’t mean one or two, I’m thinking fives and tens, the presenter is thinking in terms of quantity not quality. It’s the quality you want, right? If you’re not sure, have a look at a National Geographic for inspiration.
So, if you are now thinking about your images, homework time, write down in a paragraph what it is your business does, look at your images and ask yourself is the story coming through? Is it style over substance? Too many or too little images?
If you answer No, or are stuck, don’t dismay, why don’t you give me a call and we’ll tell your story together.