Tell A Story with a Great Photo

September 20th, 2016 by

It’s no secret that successful direct mail tells a story with a great photo. We are either stopped in our tracks because the photo compels our attention – or we’re not.

Last week I participated in a photography workshop in Snowmass, Colorado. It was led by internationally celebrated National Geographic photographer Massimo Bassano.  This is one of his photos.

I spent 2 very full days learning about the manual settings on my camera. Like how to set the aperture, shutter speed and something very mysterious called the ISO. Despite my attempts, many of my photos actually came out black. Obviously, I didn’t have the perfect recipe for my manual settings. In the end, I did get a few photos I am proud to share, displaying the amazing color change of the Aspen leaves, whose golden color can’t be found in any box of crayolas I ever saw.

My most important take-away from the workshop dealt with Composition.

Massimo stressed that we should be using the entire frame of a photo to tell a story.  All of my prior pics, which I thought were pretty good, were very narrow and focused on my particular subject, be it a person or animal, and didn’t really tell a complete story, for example where the person was sitting, what she was doing, who else was there, what time of day it was, and so on. While they might have been good photos – the real question is what emotions they conveyed and what visceral response they created.

So, what is important about this in Direct Mail Marketing?

The photo is one of the key components in getting that mail piece read, interpreted and remembered. A lukewarm photo will generate a lukewarm response. If you want to have successful direct mail, you need to tell a story with a great photo.

Non-profit marketers should especially take heed. Every day, charities are competing for dollars by pulling at people’s heartstrings. You can’t raise money with a photo that doesn’t tug.

BTW – it’s not only about the photos – it’s about creating compelling stories to engage your audience