There’s a reason the line “a picture is worth a thousand words” became a cliché.
To debate whether it’s 1,000 words or 1,055 words misses the point. A visual pulls the reader into the narrative and enhances the storytelling.
Photo sites like Flickr make it easy to add photos into your blog posts.
You can do better.
Here are six tips to upgrade your visuals from the garden-variety photos available in the public domain. Equally important, they don’t require design expertise, just a pinch of cleverness.
1) The Old Photo
Readers love this type of image.
You simply twist the language to make it fit.
I tied the shot above to the post with:
“What could be better than the combination of scientific insights on storytelling and ‘Is it live or is it Memorex?’-type writing.”
2) The Custom Photo
No one expects you to be the second coming of Annie Leibovitz.
When you see something that strikes your interest, snap the photo with your smartphone.
That’s how I snagged this “wonderful” shot of the “Bad Credit” billboard in Vegas.
3) The Screen Shot
My go-to technique to customize a visual to the storytelling.
Capturing a screen shot calls for:
1. Open widow/file you want to capture and make sure it is on the “active” window (widow that is in the foreground of your computer screen)
2. Hold down the Alt button and press the “Print screen” button at the top right corner of your keyboard
3. Open a graphics or word processing program (PowerPoint) and press CTRL+V to paste the screenshot
4. Use the crop tool to crop out the image you want to use
5. Click on File and Save As to save the image as a JPEG
1. Hold down: Shift +Command+4 to take a picture of a specific area on the screen
2. Hold down the mouse button and run the “select” tool over the area you would like to save and let go
3. A JPG file of your image will be saved to your desktop
4) Put Words in the Celebrity’s Mouth
I love this technique, marrying TMZ-like photography with fun language.
Again, no design expertise required to follow the yellow brick steps:
Using PowerPoint for both Windows and Mac:
1. Open PowerPoint and click on “Insert” tab and “Picture” icon to select image
2. Once image is uploaded on PowerPoint slide, select the “Insert” tab and click on the “Text Box” Icon
3. Draw a text box over the image where you’d like and write the text (you can format the text just as you’d format it anywhere else)
4. Once you are done designing your text, click the outside edge of the photo, press CTRL, and then click the edge of the text box so that both items are selected
5. ight click on the selected image and click on “Group” to save the image and text into one file
6. Click on “Save as” and select JPEG
5) Change One or Two Words in an Iconic Image
I might be on a slippery copyrights slope with this one.
But it’s another way to bring professional imagery into your post with a personal twist.
And yes, one adjective can destroy the beauty of simplicity.
6) Play Off a Famous Visual
This is the one technique that can require design expertise.
Still, the approach doesn’t have to be a major undertaking if you think through the image you’re after.
As you can see, the payoff can be jarring.
Please feel free to add other techniques that accentuate visual storytelling.