Are You Using Photos In The Wrong Way?

Finding the right photo for your post feels a lot harder these days.

That’s quite a weird thing to say, right?

We live in a photo-driven world now, we’re not short of inspiration.

And yet, that’s the reason why it’s harder.

You can’t mess up.

Except you can.

Photos play such a vital role in business, but not in the way you think.

Before I get into that, I’d like to share with you a mistake I once made with using photos online.

A mistake that surprised the heck out of me.

The usual hunt for photos

So back in 2013, I was working on a website targeting party planners.

I was looking for photos to give visual life to their text. I had some themes in mind, e.g. happy people, lots of colour, enjoyment.

I began trawling stock libraries like Dreamstime and soon built up a nice collection.

A few weeks later, everything went live.

But something didn’t feel right about the photos.

For one thing, a lot of the people in the photos didn’t feel like people. They looked like models, with their perfect teeth and perfect tan.

The photos also felt at odds with the copy. I couldn’t put my finger on the problem, so I asked the website’s subscribers for feedback.

Their reply?

“We can’t see ourselves in your photos.”

When your photos work against you

It was an epic answer.

It was 100% spot on.

Not only did the people in the photos look like models, I realised they were modelling something else: the situation they were in.

Take a look at the couple in this photo to the right. Do they look like convincing partygoers to you?

Do they look like they’re at an actual party?

And straight away I understood what photos weren’t.

They were not there to decorate your website.

They were not there to “look nice.”

They were not there even to be photographs.

How photos should speak

We’ve all heard the cliché, “a photo speaks a thousand words.” Well, on the web, this holds true even more.

Photos should help your audience identify with themselves.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

Say you’re a creative mentor and you coach songwriters suffering from writer’s block.

Songwriters would want to feel you understand who they are. To do that, you’d need photos associated with their profession. These could include musical instruments, song sheets and other tools connected to their job.

You want to get into rapport with them, right?

So how are they going to feel, if they’re seeing photos of corporate people and people in suits?

Not as happy, I bet.

Are you living in their world?

We want our customers to feel at home on our website.

So take a look at your photos and ask yourself the following questions?

  • Do your photos reflect your audience?
  • If you visited your client’s house, would their lifestyle match the one presented on your website?
  • Do your photos feel natural or posed?

If you’re not getting a yes to any of these, it may be time to turn things around.