The other day while riding a train, I watched as a small girl, maybe three years old, sat on her mother’s lap and flipped through a tourism brochure. I could clearly see her eyes quickly scan each page searching for something to land on. The pages with no photos would be flipped aside while those with several photos would be studied. She’d lean in closer to the photos she found interesting. Her body language, even at three years old, revealed what I am sure is true for all of us when looking at today’s infinite media sources.
Would an adult have been any different? Probably not. I had, only the day before, made a decision about the quality of a local magazine by doing exactly what this little girl did. I saw a regional magazine I’d been meaning to check, picked it up and rapidly scanned through looking at… what? The photos. My perception of this product was based on about 12 seconds of time. The content of the magazine revealed that it was of a high enough quality to warrant taking. I approved based on photography. That magazine succeeded at getting my attention.
But how many others do we pass by? How many advertisements do we simply pass over when clicking around online or skimming through magazines? We’re bombarded with imagery, and the standards are rising. The qualities we like must be presented at a level high enough to catch our attention. We like tidy, pretty things, we like emotion, we like inspiration and we like happiness and kindness. We like these things in photography as much as we do in people. If these traits are present, we’ll have a closer look, the words and the product come next.
As a professional photographer, I am interested to know how and why a brand chooses the imagery they wish to portray their own image. Also, I am interested to know how a consumer of images, and therefore of these brands, chooses what image is successful. What images made that little girl pause? What makes you pause?
It’s interesting to place similar images on a page, good vs. bad – why does one catch our attention while another we skip right over?
I’d love to hear some comments here. Thanks!