According to Google, there are 750 billion images on the internet. No wonder it can be hard to stand out from the crowd as a marketer, entrepreneur, or startup.
However, since the competition on words is even more fierce, and considering how much more impactful photos are than words (they attract 94% more attention!), it’s time to up your game when it comes to choosing the right kind of images for your marketing and storytelling.
As an entrepreneur & marketer with 20 years of experience, and being the founder of a stock photo startup, I’ve put together 3 golden rules for you to choose the right images now and in the future:
1. The power of creation
How to maximize the impact of photos that you make yourself
Currently, people are discussing, whether you should use self-made images; professional photographers, stock photos, or even the new AI-generated visuals from Dall-E 2 and Midjourney. But this should not be a matter of one or the other, but understanding when to use what.
‘The power of Creation’ is creating photos and videos yourself. This is often a very powerful method for social media posts because people expect it there.
Here are 3 great tips for self-creating images for social media:
– Know the guidelines for the social media platform that you’re posting on. What are their requirements, when it comes to image size, resolution, and size? Remember that these guidelines can change frequently, so check the rules from time to time, so your photos don’t end up getting cropped in the wrong place.
– Experiment with personality. Research shows that Instagram customers love soft, faded colors in photos, often on the blue end of the spectrum. On Facebook, studies show that the images should be bright, clear, and lively. They also need to be easy to understand. Don’t try to be an artist.
– Understand the basics of good photography. This includes lighting the space correctly; experimenting with different angles; creating symmetry and always taking multiple shots.
2. The power of curation
How to identify stock images with impact
‘The Power of Curation’ is relying on others to help out. In the future, the world of stock photography will not be about millions and millions of picture-perfect photos in a huge database. It will be about authenticity and saving people like you time.
Stock photos have had a bad name for many years, and they’ve actually deserved it. Big industry players have flooded the internet with millions of toothpaste smiles; staged image compositions and complex pricing and licensing terms.
However, a new era is on its way in stock photography, where alternative platforms pop up and offer to curate the most authentic content out there for you instead of just being huge databases of fake-looking photos.
Here are some great tips for choosing the right stock photos:
– Look for authenticity and images that your audience can relate to. The key here is to truly understand your customers. What are they like? What do they like? What are their passions and interest? Identify images that reflect this, so your audience can relate to your visuals.
– Understand the contrast of the images. Identify areas of low contrast if you plan on adding text or graphics to the image. The ideal stock photo for these projects would be one with areas of low contrast so that your text and graphics have an even, consistent backdrop.
Here is a good example:
Here is a bad one:
– Find images that support your message.
Many stock images are generic and abstract enough to grab attention without diverting too much focus. There are, however, exceptions. Simply, when choosing a stock photo, find one that does not distract from the main message of your landing page, newsletter, update, and headline.
3. The power of generation
How to utilize the new AI-image generation platforms in the best possible way
Platforms like Dall-E 2, Midjourney, and Google Imagen present us with a glimpse into the future of synthetic media. This means that computers can create very realistic images based on simple text input – also known as prompts.
Text to image generation is interesting, fascinating, problematic, and scary at the same time:
Interesting because it has to disrupt parts of the creative and image industry
Fascinating because it shows us, how AI is able to help us re-invent or re-think reality
Problematic because it has a lot of legal issues that have not yet been solved by the AI-companies
- Scary because it risks dehumanizing us as a species, but it’s taking the Instagram-fake-culture to the next level.
If you want to explore this new space, here are a couple of great tips:
– Focus on editorial use. Editorial use means that you only use the AI-generated images as part of articles that you write about the topic or related topics. It also means that you’re not using AI-generated images for marketing campaigns, newsletter marketing, Google Ads, etc. In this way, you reduce your risk of receiving copyright infringement letters, since this technology is so new that the legal aspects of using the images are very unclear.
Dall-E 2 may have started claiming that their images can be used for commercial purposes, but really no one knows yet, and experts warn about using the images commercially.
– Don’t create images with brands or famous people. Even though it’s possible, creating images with famous brands, trademarks or people is not a good idea. The image-generation platforms don’t offer you any form of insurance or support if you receive a copyright infringement claim. Therefore, stay clear of using famous brands, trademarks, buildings or people are part of your prompts in these tools and instead create fun art, illustrations, etc.
– Experiment with different prompts. The quality of the output that you get depends very much on the input that you give the AI. If you don’t want to do it yourself, there are even platforms popping up, where you can buy ready-made prompts.
About the author
He is one of Denmark’s most well-known entrepreneurs and business authors. He has been nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year and is amongst Denmark’s 100 most promising leaders according to a major Danish business newspaper.
In addition to being a serial entrepreneur, Jonathan Løw is the former Head of Marketing at the KaosPilots – named Top 10 most innovative business schools in the world by FastCompany. He is also former Startup-Advisor and Investor at Accelerace – the leading investment fund for startups in Denmark.