Shoot Like a Communicator

How often do you wander around with a camera slung over your shoulder or tucked into a hip pocket? Most likely that’s something you do on vacation. And whether you return home with shots of the kids at Disneyworld, or your tour group standing in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, chances are most of those photos sit on your computer or disappear into an album to be looked at again someday. Yet, with a bit of thought and planning, your best work could see the light (terrible pun) in your presentations.

Today, importing digital photographs to slides is a snap (another terrible pun, sorry). And there are good reasons to do it. Photographs can set a mood, tell a story, make an abstract concept concrete, elicit an emotional response or spark imagination. Research also indicates that people remember information better and longer when they receive it from images rather than text.

Here’s the simple key to success: be purposeful about capturing images to use on your slides. So, next time you’re looking through a viewfinder, keep these tips in mind.
Take background shots - Grab a few shots that are mostly sky with the scene or activity in a narrow band along the bottom. These shots are great for title or bullet slides. To learn more about this technique read Life Imitates Art, posted elsewhere on this blog.

Think like a videographer - To tell a story movie makers shoot a wide variety of shots: establishing shots, close ups, cutaways etc. So, do more than take a wide shot of the scene. Focus on the details. For example: while visiting a Buddhist temple in Korea, I snapped a close-up shot of stacks of message tiles left by other visitors. I’ve used it several times to make different points in presentations.

Think like a communicator - Don’t just take glamour shots. Think about the three Cs that form the foundation of a presentation: Connect, Convince, Conclude. Then take a few minutes to look around the scene. Do you see anything that could help you communicate those ideas? If so, aim and fire away.

Some of the souvenir photos I’ve used in my presentations:

A close-up shot of message tiles stacked up at a Buddhist temple near Sokcho, South Korea.

Tiles near Buddhist temple

This shot provides some comic relief when I talk about choosing the right text size.

Bullet holes in sign

Lots of sky makes this shot perfect for use as a title or bullet slide background.

Dragon sculpture