How to Wow Your Audience with the Right Image

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Barry Pearman who lives in Auckland, New Zealand.  Barry blogs about Spiritual Formation and Soul talk for Mental Health. You can follow him on his blog and connect with him on Twitter.

There was something about this picture that grabbed me. Was it the black and white starkness? Shadow’s hinting of something unknown? Male or female? Poor or rich? Going unnoticed in a crowd to a home of loneliness?

Create Wow with the Right Image
Photo credit: SpaceShoe (Creative Commons)

Something grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Images can have a spellbinding effect and shape our thinking. They can trigger off memories of past events and places. Images speak the words we never thought we could say.

When I saw this image it triggered off a Jim Wallis quote:

Only those willing to stand close enough to listen will ever hear those closest to the problem.
–Jim Wallis

I have stood close to those who have been wrecked and interrupted by Mental Illness. I have listened to the stories. Images of suffering seared into my mind that keep me grounded to a reality unknown to most.

Pictures have power

What thoughts and feelings were triggered when you saw this image for the first time?

A group of young people gather around a large block of wood. With hammer and nail in hand the first contestant comes forward. How many swings of the hammer will it take to drive that nail home. The count is taken with the winner being the one that has mastered both strength and accuracy.

I want to make one point in my writing. Every tap of the keyboard needs to hammer that one point home.

If you give people too much to remember they won’t remember anything.
–Andy Stanley

The image is a big hit of the nail. I place it at the start where there isn’t much friction yet between the nail and the blockheads, oops people, who read my material.

Where to find the right photo

Finding the right image for your article, webpage, or slide presentation requires a little digging, but it’s worth the result. Here are some places to look (depending on your budget)

  • Personal. With photos of yourself, family, holiday, office you literally invite the world to ‘come on over’ and ‘pull up a chair’. You are inviting them into your life and to be friends. Just a word of caution here, make sure other family members are ok with this world famous exposure.
  • Bought. Stock images are available from many different sources such as istockphoto. Stock photos do make your blog feel more professional, but you have to ask yourself if this is what you are aiming for. Also, you have to be careful here as sometimes the same image can get over used and you don’t get that ‘Wow’ effect because you’ve seen it before.
  • Free. I use mostly free images from Flickr. The amount of photos available is enormous. The photos are generally of high quality and have can have an arty feel to them. Compfight is a search engine that can search through Flickr’s library and also has a gadget for WordPress users. Using Flickr also enables you to support and encourage other artists like yourself, just make sure you give proper attribution to the artist.

Here are some practical pointers

Now that you know where to find your images, here’s how to choose the right one:

  1. Look for an emotional connection. Look for an image that emotionally connects both with you and the reader. Whatever grabs you will most likely grab others.
  2. Use photos that attract attention. Try to find pictures that scream “Look at me.” No more nice boring cliche clips. Just as your writing comes from within you, the story behind the picture needs to also connect with something of you.
  3. Remember the size of a thumbnail. The first time your picture will most likely be seen will be in the size of your thumb. If you want people to hit your thumb it has to stand out and beg to be hit.

What sort of images grab you and why? Share in the comments.

Barry Pearman lives in Auckland, New Zealand.  Barry blogs about Spiritual Formation and Soul talk for Mental Health. You can follow him on his blog and connect with him on Twitter.

Hi, I’m Jeff. Can I send you something?

Hi, I’m Jeff. Can I send you something?

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