Visual storytelling with photos is the key to engagement.
Natural photos can communicate a deeper message in a much more succinct way than is possible with text. And there are only subtle, easy differences between boring photos that lack personality and emotional pictures that tell a rich and simple story.
Let's take a look at how you can take the same subject and completely transform it by using images that include a human element that really connects with the viewer and tells a story at a glance.
1. The Basic Picture
To start off, look at a basic product shot of a cookie. The photo has interesting shadows, good colors, and looks delicious, but it doesn't tell you a story. The photo looks obviously staged. Our lives aren't full of perfect cookies sitting in the middle of a plate so we easily call B.S. and know that this is fake.
There's a temptation to take photos or buy stock photos that look like the "perfect" version of the subject we're looking for, but it's impossible to mask the lack true depth in a staged picture like this. Photos that feel authentic are powerful tools to create deep engagement.
2. A Human Touch
When a photo nails the emotion of a moment, is highly relatable, and makes a connection with the viewer, you have optimal engagement. In this version, the addition of someone's hand in the shot is a simple and easy way to elevate the message told in the photo by beginning to tell a story.
Here, the act of reaching for the cookie is highly relatable because that's most of us wish we were doing right now as we stare at it.
It seems like common sense that adding a person to a photo will make it feel more real and relatable, but the same story can be told with much more subtlety and even greater effect...
3. A Human Trace
This last example illustrates the nuanced power of photo storytelling. Without even including a visual indication of a person's presence, the traces of humanness left behind tell a much richer story. The emotions and feelings communicated are the most important factor in really connecting and engaging with the viewer.
The bite and crumbs create visual interest that makes the viewer think about the actions and the story behind creating the photo. This level of engagement is the ultimate goal for visual storytellers.