A powerful image speaks a thousand words. The one that stops you in your tracks while you tip-toe round the Tate Modern, or that one you bring up in conversation at any opportunity you get. Now it must be said, there aren’t many images nowadays that evoke this type of emotion; not when you stop to consider that an estimated 95 million images and videos are uploaded to Instagram daily and a mind-blowing 4.7 billion photos are taken daily around the world. In an image saturated world, it’s imperative our imagery captures the attention of our audiences and keeps them captivated.
So what is it about emotive photography that has us pausing for thought? Emotive photography is an image or photograph that evokes in us a particular emotion or sends emotional messages even when no words are being expressed. The composition, subject, identity, and colour all play an important role in making an image emotive and when it’s done right, it can be a truly powerful marketing tool that you may have just overlooked.
Joe Greer, a Street Photographer from Texas, is a captivating example of the power of emotive photography. The composition of the two lovers locked in each other’s eyes, framed purposefully by the window of the train, draws our focus to their devotion for one another and simultaneously evokes thoughts of our own sense of devotion and relationships within our lives. This incredibly powerful reflection of thoughts invites the audience into the conversation with the artist, and consequently the image resonates with us personally. Can we evoke this same emotional attachment within our brands? And therefore creating a more impactful engagement within our audiences, simply by making them feel something?
By contrast, images have the power to create an opposite effect; one of duplication, lack of originality and over-saturation. The sheer volume of images uploaded to the internet on a daily basis reiterates the importance of creating and utilising original and engaging brand content for your marketing, otherwise you may find your brand getting lost in the saturation. An exhibition at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in January 2022, ‘A Trillion Sunsets: A Century of Image Overload’, examined this compulsive fascination with the saturation of images looking at a time span from 1920’s to today. An obvious example of this is the oversaturated image of the sunset. A simple Google search acquired an astonishing 554,000,000 results in 0.64 seconds, and you can almost guarantee with a few exceptions that a sunset looks the same, no matter who took the photograph. With over half a billion sunsets to choose from, what makes us choose ‘that’ one?
As human beings, we are intrinsically drawn to anything that evokes an emotion. Whether that be via storytelling, a narrative we can relate to, a photograph that makes us feel a certain way; it’s the emotional connection we all crave and within marketing we are able to achieve this effect within our brand content. How can we inject this sense of emotion and storytelling into our brands, while still achieving business objectives?
The key is in creating original content. This generates more engagement from a UX perspective because it feels more authentic and tailored to the individual audience. It shows a consideration to the brand identity and also a particular effort in visual communication. Engaging images are those that grab the attention of the viewer from an emotional standpoint, rather than being purely factual or educational. This is photography that tells a story, and us human beings love a story.