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6 Ways to Use Photos and Other Graphics More Effectively – Part 2

Beyond • February 27, 2013

4) Keep Horizons Level when Possible! This may seem like a simple tip, but I’ve seen many photographs in ads, blogs, Facebook posts, etc. that don’t look quite right because the horizon line is not level. Virtually all photo editing applications have a rotate button that will allow you to fine tune your cropping. More sophisticated applications like Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Adobe Lightroom all have a “leveling” or “straighten” tool built in that allow you to trace the line you want to straighten so that you can get a level image very quickly. Here’s a video tutorial from Adobe that describes how to use the Crop and Straighten tool in Photoshop Elements: (Elements, at under $100, offers an incredible value for anyone who needs a powerful image editor but prefers not to purchase the full version of Photoshop). 5) Sharpen Properly for the Media in which the Photo(s) Will Run Sharpening is key to making your image(s) stand out on a printed page or online. Without going into too much detail (entire books have been written on the subject), it’s a very good idea to do some testing with a few different sharpening settings to see which one looks best for your message. A sharp, crisp image on a page crowded with other so-so photographs will usually stand out. A few tips for better sharpening: Sharpen after sizing down to whatever size the image/ad will be running. Sizing down files can soften details. View the media on a few devices (tablet, phone, different screens, etc.) to see if the sharpening looks OK on all of them. 6) Use JPGs and Convert to sRGB for Files Posted Online Unless you are using gifs or video formats, JPG is the big dog online as far as image formats/extensions are concerned. Virtually all image editors allow you to choose a JPG quality level when you save an image, and a good rule of thumb would be to use about 70 as a lower value when quality is not as important as file compactness. For a better-looking, more photo-realistic look (as long as your originals are sharp and clean), I recommend 80-90 as the value to use. If you plan to do some editing along the way (color/brightness/contrast adjustments, etc.), it’s best not to continually save your JPGs as JPGs on top of each other. Instead, you should save files in a \"lossless\" file format, such as PSD or TIFF. The PSD format tends to be more efficient (files are smaller than Tiffs) if you are using Photoshop, so that’s my choice.


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6 Ways to Use Photos and Other Graphics More Effectively – Part 1

6 Ways to Use Photos and Other Graphics More Effectively – Part 1

Beyond • February 25, 2013

Photography is a powerful medium. It can be used to entertain, inform, call people to action and promote products or services. Here are a few tips for using photographs and other graphics in your online or offline communications to help drive more clicks, which can lead to more sales…and maybe even worldwide fame. 1) Show Before and After Photos of Anything that Gets Your Point Across You need not go any further than a TV infomercial promoting the latest body-sculpting workout, face cream or diet supplement to see how before and after photos are used to drive sales of products. But virtually any traditional business or non-profit organization can use before and after images to increase response rates in ads, newsletters, social media sites and blogs. Here are a few examples: A kitchen remodeling company can show before and after photos of a project. A dentist can show before and after photos of a mouthful of teeth. An animal rescue group can show a before photograph of an injured or abused pet, and an after photograph of the same pet living happily with the family who adopted him or her. A photo retoucher can show before and after images of a model, landscape or product shot. Some tips for presenting before and after photographs: Place the before and after photo side-by-side in the same frame so that they won’t be separated (even when viewed on different devices). Show enough detail by photographing subjects close-up or by cropping in to get your point across, especially if your message will be viewed in a sidebar ad or as a Facebook/Twitter image post. Use a “Left to Right” placement (“Before” shot on the left, “After” shot on the right). Top to bottom is OK if space dictates that orientation. 2) Use Gifs! Gifs can simulate video or present photographs elegantly on many devices while using a small amount of bandwidth if file sizes are kept small. A good gif can be irresistible to look at, which means more people will click on the message if tested against a similar static image. Some tips for using gifs: Use them for “Before and After” demonstrations instead of the side-by-side approach discussed above. Use them to quickly show a number of photos in an elegant gallery that flips, fades from photo to photo, etc. Use them to cycle between a few messages (especially useful in email blasts and small website ads). Use them in email newsletters/promotional materials to simulate video and increase click-throughs. One thing to always consider with gifs is compatibility with the platform you are using. In late 2012 Twitter stopped allowing animated gifs as avatars, and Facebook is also not very gif-friendly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them work for you in many places. 3) Embed a Screenshot of a Video with a Play Button on It Inside Your Marketing This is a quick tip that can dramatically increase your click-throughs. A still shot of a video (JPEG) with a big “PLAY” button graphic is difficult for people to resist if they are at all interested in the topic. Some tips for using still images with a play button: Make sure that the still shot you capture is sharp and interesting. You can usually find just the right frame to capture by “scrubbing” the forward/back slider back and forth from inside YouTube, Vimeo or whichever video host you use. Keep the YouTube, Vimeo, etc. branding and control bar across the bottom in the image so that people know that they will be viewing a video on a trusted platform. Include text that gives people a reason to click on the video, such as a description of the tips they will be receiving, the fact that they won’t be able to stop laughing when watching it, etc.


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