The Power of Photography in Advertising

Jan 10, 2023 | Marketing ADvice


puhimec | Envato

Janis Plume

By Janis Plume, Sr. Account Manager, Alaska Business

It would be too easy to start this article with the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but that’s where I’ll start. It’s an almost absolute truth that most successful ads have a robust and appealing photo that grabs and hopefully holds the reader’s interest. There are very few examples of successful ads that rely on copy only. The image often ties strongly to or at least leads to, a persuasive message presented in the ad copy.

Most people think that print and digital advertising is fleeting. The actual ad has some permanence, either ink on a page or pixels on a screen. What is fleeting is the reader or viewer’s attention given to the ad. The eye scans, the neurons fire, and the brain provides a moment of thought to the message. What’s the first thing the eye notices? The colorful and pleasing visual — certainly not the alphabet soup that spells out the headline.

In Alaska Business, most ads identify Alaska visually – most advertisers portray a business activity in our beautiful backyard — the more successful ones are those the reader knows right away: that’s Alaskan! Robust, resilient, and successful at what they do, whether they’re transporting a piece of equipment across the Dalton Highway or flying a small plane through a mountain pass.

This is geographically identifiable photography, one type of custom photography. As Alaska Business’ senior designer, Monica Sterchi-Lowman sums it up, “Custom photography is critical when targeting local & regional markets, as it captures the local touches people identify with (and) brings authenticity and sincerity to your materials.”

You should be careful to avoid relying too heavily on those beauty shots. Photos in an ad have to be relevant and more than just pretty. Remember that you are trying to persuade people to pay attention to your advertising products and services. Anchorage-based ad executive Carl Sollenberger warns that in ad photography, there must be a balance between art and function, “There are rules in advertising, whereas, in art, there are no rules. The artist in everyone will have to give way to the practical when it comes to advertising.”

Here are some practical ways to get those photos for your advertising:

Self-Starter, Self-Shooter

Add commercial photography to your resume by shooting your own photos. Chances are, you already have a pretty sophisticated smartphone with an excellent camera in your hands. Get in the habit of shooting photos on your work site, be critical of the images you take, and ask yourself if the image effectively supports your ad message. Remember that good lighting, composition, and framing are essential principles that should be applied as you take that photo. Make sure your smartphone camera is set to the highest resolution possible. The photos you take are yours and can bring value to your ads and other marketing materials.

The Stock Option

Start searching the Internet, and you’ll find quite a few outstanding stock photography options, many of which feature photos shot in Alaska. The main advantage is that there’s a wide range of high-quality images to choose from that have been captured by professionals. Though it’s unlikely that your business will be found in stock photography, stock photos are well-shot and designed to be practical and appeal to broad audiences. Make sure to read the fine print; usage restrictions vary widely. Make sure you know what you’re buying from the stock agency.

Go Pro

Certainly not for a business with a minimal budget, yet if resources allow and a defined need exists, the value and quality of photos shot by a professional photographer. This custom option requires plenty of planning and logistical support to get the most out of the hired shooter. Develop a “shot list,” discuss the details with your photographer, and be realistic with your expectations. Natural forces like weather and light will always exist. Negotiating photo usage rights will ensure you get the most from your final selection of photos.

Whether doing it on the cheap or devoting a significant budget to custom photography, you can reach the goal of that stunning and effective photo in your advertising.  

For more marketing advice contact the Alaska Business marketing professionals at 907-276-4373

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