A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Thisis anEnglish language adage, popularized by an advertising executive, Fred R. Barnard, who wrote “one look is worth a thousand words” as the title for his branding of Printer’s Ink magazine in 1921.  While research tells us we remember visual images much easier and better than words. The image you display tells a story as much as possible.

Image Speaks Louder Than Words

Backed up by a marketing industry influencer Krista Neher, who claimed that the human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than words.  One picture conveys so much more information than words. And, our mind can explore the one picture, and come up with a thousand words. This is the reason why an image is a powerful tool for you to use to support the messages you want to convey to the public.  The image will help explain your messages or story.

What is Photo Op and Why?

The administration of US President Richard Nixon was the one that introduced the terminology of “photo op”. It stands for photograph opportunity of taking pictures at an event. The pictureis to capture a memorable and notable moment, which will tell us a story of the subject/s and the event itself.  It is expected that the picture help generate favorable publicity.

Where and When Do You Do Photo Op?

Typically the place to do a photo op is either at eventful moments likeat a:  groundbreaking; or a corporate event; or a product launch; a press conference, an opening of atrade show; an office warming; a political moment; many more.

Who are the Subjects or Actors of Your Photo Op?

Who will be the ‘subjects’ or individuals or ‘actors’? It could well be either your Chief Executive Officer, a guest speaker who is a notable person / public figure, the president, the Governor, or a celebrity, or a politician, a person of influence, and so on.

How to do a Photo Op?

  1. Plan and Compose Your Photo – Remember, as in any photo, you have the whole entire frame of a picture to fill. So decide on the theme (what action of the ‘actors’/’subjects’) and composition, from the background, colour scheme, texture, so that your subject/s will not be lost inside the frame.
  2. Make It Catchy &Powerful – In a photo oe, you need to create a powerful image, and yet real. You need to evoke emotion, a genuine feeling so that the viewer can connect with the image. Make your viewer in the same space as in the picture they view.
  3. Make It Look Action Oriented &Dynamic – The best photo op is for the result to look dynamic, some thing is happening. What I mean by dynamic is that it should look like there’s an action taken place at the event. For example the subject/s (individual/s) to act like being in the middle of taking actions. Make sure you capture it first time round, as you don’t get a second chance, unless you ask the subject/s to do a re-take of the photo op.
  4. Be Symbolic – What kind of symbolic actions should be in a photo op? Initially, when it was associated with politicians, they’d be seen as getting out of their car (arriving at a very important meeting), planting trees (as the start of a Corporate Social Responsibility program), picking up litter, signing a document, shaking hands, with the intent of photographers to capture theseeventful moments.
  5. Be Sensitive – Remember all your audiences are just human beings with feelings. Study the surrounding first, as not to offend any of your audiences, such as if you do a photo op in front or inside of a sacred place or in front or inside a place of worship; then you should avoid using props like Bible or The Quran, this is a Big No No! Ensure the whole composition in the picture is politically correct.

What to Prepare?

Here is the list of actions to take:

  1. Make a composition of an overall picture by using your creativity – decide where is the best location or spot
  2. Decide on the best location for a photo op
  3. Use a backdrop as background, or use some props
  4. Ensure to have enough lighting (natural light if possible, otherwise have a lighting equipment)
  5. Have a Stage Director who is in charge on the day of the photo op
  6. Give enough space for the ‘stage’
  7. Give enough space for the photographers to move around
  8. Ensure your photographer to arrive early
  9. Ask the photographer r to be familiarized with the location
  10. Do some test shots
  11. Brief the photographer whom you assigned to take the picture on your behalf
  12. Have your own camera man / photographer (ensure enough battery or backups, tripod, lighting)
  13. Brief the person/s who will be in the picture – tell them what to do when the photos are being taken

More in Your Checklist

  1. Have your own camera in hand, ready to use – the photo/s you take could be good ones to use – this is for a back up
  2. Check the location in advance carefully
  3. Be sensitive when using props – not to offend anyone
  4. Be sensitive when choosing a backdrop – not to offend anyone
  5. Respect local culture, ethics and religion
  6. Ask permission if you use other people’s properties

Fun Photo Op Ideas, to Suit the Occasion:

  1. Photo booth
  2. Dress up
  3. Props
  4. Background scenes as backdrop

Never Forget to Have the Photo Op at Your Event!

Remember the whole idea of a photo op has the intention to capture a memorable, notable event. A picture tells you a story a thousand words; that is worth sharing to the public through the media, used as a powerful tool to support what you are communicating to the public.  Besides, nowadays people much prefer to see something visual than having to read texts. Therefore the visuals you use must be eye-catching, powerful and tells you an interesting story.

(by Ida Bayuni, Public Relations practitioner, bw communications – based in Jakarta)