|Charles G. Goldman, Executive Vice president of Schwab Institutional, leads the opening general session of the Charles Schwab conference for independent financial advisers.
There can be no words without images.
More than any other technological innovation, computers are responsible for the explosion in images. Today, 20 percent of the U.S. population can use a computer. But 80 percent of school-age children have learned to become computer literate. By the turn of the century, Sculley predicts that 98 percent of all the words and pictures created in the world will be computer mediated. By that time, virtual reality — the ultimate fusion of computer and television technologies in which viewers become active users of the medium — will be inexpensive and accessible.
Educational psychologist Jerome Bruner of New York University cites studies that show persons only remember ten percent of what they hear, 30 percent of what they read, but about 80 percent of what they see and do. When all members of society whether at home, in school and on the job learn to use computers for word and picture processing, the switch will be made from passive watching to active using. There will no longer be the barrier between the two symbolic structures. Words and pictures will become one, powerful and memorable mode of communication.
— Professor Paul Martin Lester, Ph.D., Department of Communications, California State University
Visual forms of communication grab the attention of today’s audiences. Graphic representations such as diagrams, charts, tables, illustrations and photographs not only catch the eye; they draw the viewer into the information being presented.
Corporate communication departments who took advantage of this visual revolution early on are today’s leaders in the communication field. They saw this “explosion in images” coming and jumped aboard.
Endless, long blocks of type spreading across pages are rarely read. Early editors discovered a visual tool that cured this ill… they broke the copy up into short, more manageable paragraphs that didn’t intimidate or bore their audience.
Today, many no longer read traditional text. Just taking brochures from the past and posting them to the web will not get the message out.
Okay, if it’s true that a skilled use of visuals will improve communication and if expertise in this area seems like a foreign language… what then?
We’d probably take classes to learn a foreign language, so to become proficiency in the use of visuals perhaps we should study art, photography or theater at the local community college. This is one way to learn how the masters in these fields used the visuals.
Mr. Bean was a British comedy television series starring Rowan Atkinson. Bean, an almost totally silent character used physical comedy to entertain. The series did well internationally because words were not important to the success of the show.
Instead of a brain storming an idea try playing a game of Charades to express what needs to be communicated about that idea. The game forces thinking in visual terms. Pictionary is a board game where teams try to guess specific words from their teammates’ drawings. More than Charades Pictionary requires forming mental pictures. Both games provide a fun way to practice visualization.
Here are Ten Tips to consider when thinking about using images:
1. Humanize – Illustrate how products affect people. For example, to show how small something is, rather than using a ruler, put it in someone’s hand. If something improves lives – show it doing just that. Today the trend is to use a more photojournalistic approach or, at least, to make it look photojournalist. To make sure the expressions are genuine set up a situation, give it enough time and it can become real.
2. Good Lighting
– Sometime the natural light is perfect. Just cut the flash off and use a higher ISO for the available light. Remember that whatever has the most light on it will become the main subject.
|Bill Griffeth moderates panel with Greg Valliere and Liz Ann Sonders during the Charles Schwab conference for independent financial advisers.
3. Try Black & White – Some war photographers feel that color may make even war look pretty. Black and white is a good way to focus attention on faces and graphics.
4. Get Closer – Almost any photo will be better closer up.
5. Watch the background – Look around the subject. Be sure nothing is growing out of a head or sticking in from the edge on the frame. Use a shallow depth-of-field like ƒ/2 versus using ƒ/16 to make your subject stand out from the background. If the background helps tell the story increase the depth-of-field by using f16 or f22, or vary the background anywhere in between fuzzy or sharp.
6. Consider a worm’s eye view or the bird’s eye view
– Shoot really low or high above the subject. Change the height of the camera in relation to the subject; avoid making all the photos from a standing position.
7. Turn off the date stamp – Digital cameras embed the time and date in the photo information so it is not necessary to have it print on the photo itself.
8. Variety – Make plenty of photos from different angles. In addition to using the zoom actually get closer and farther away from the subject. Make wide-angle and close-up photos. Try some without flash, some with direct flash and bounced flash.
9. Give it time – Make a few photos then stop for a few minutes. Let the subject get used to being photographed. After a while they’ll relax and the really great photos will start to happen.
10. Action and posed –Show the subject doing what they do. Let them do their job and make lots of pictures. Pose them for a good portrait, not just a headshot, but do an environmental portrait showing their work environment or signage of the place they work in the background or foreground.
11. File Size Matters – You can always downsize an image, but you can’t do much to upsize the image. Many think they can get more images on their SD or CF card by changing the file size and you can. The problem is unless you are never have plans to use the photo for more than an avatar or profile picture on Facebook then you will not be able to make prints or use it in printed pieces. Use RAW or at least the highest JPEG at the finest setting possible for your camera. You might have to find the owners manual to know how to do this for your camera.
There are many other ways than these that can improve visual communication. Like everything worth doing visual skills come from doing… from practice.
Think about it this way: Who is going to SEE your message today?