I captured the perfect photo. The Arc de Triumphe in Paris. Lights. Blurred movement. Beautiful architecture. The moon in the distance. I couldn't wait to see how the photo would form.
But I'd have to wait.
I had to let the photo unfold in a dark room, when delayed gratification was still a thing. The act of waiting was agonizing yet in retrospect, pretty amusing.
I carefully brought the roll of film into the dark room upon my return to the States. I held the mysterious moments in my hands, as I washed the film, and waited for the images to develop.
Nothing. Zilch. Nada. An empty, blank roll.
I was crushed. My anticipation faded. Hopes dashed.
I'd have to try to capture the photo again the next time I was in Paris. You know, because a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris happens all the time.
I imagine that photo would have looked something like this:
I never found out.
The good news is that visual media of today no longer requires waiting and wondering. Instead it requires a solid grasp of the fast-moving digital media world of today. It requires stunning visuals – because visual media is an art that acts as a bridge across eras, cultures, and lifetimes” a kind of immortality.
Here are a few things to understand about visual media of today:
1. The Decisive Moment
Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson originally coined the term. It's the capture of “a unique, fleeting, and meaningful moment, ideally one involving movement and action.”
When you capture a decisive moment, you fuse empathy, emotion, enchantment into your photo. You photograph something to reflect on for years to come. It's slow media at its finest. And it often requires thought, imagination, and an appreciation for the perfect timing.
According to the State of the Media report 2014, newspapers now choose iPhone pics over professional photos. This is mostly due to the ability to capture the decisive moment.
The decisive moment can happens during events like the Hudson River landing. Or it can happen during more ordinary moments throughout your day. The point is that when you add more decisive moments into your mix, you allow yourself to see behind the blurred lines of much of the media today.
2. Stick to a theme
Promote your work and your personality by sticking to a theme.
If you're sharing every random photo that you take, you're causing confusion. But when you stick to a theme, you create clarity and purpose with your messaging. And it signals to any potential customers that you're serious about your brand.
The good news is that you can have more than one theme. If you're a musician, stick to posting photos of 1. your audio gear and 2. pictures from your concerts. And then you can choose one other hobby or interest. But you probably have many interests, so refining your theme seems counterintuitive. After all, you're so excited to share your experiences with your friends.
But take a deep breath.
Sharing everything isn't always what builds the strongest human brand. If you're into sports, fitness, food, and movies – you're not creating clarity. You're only causing noise. Decide on one- and only one “ theme and stick to it each time you post a photo, or update your status (this includes your personal Facebook page too).
The default today is to automatically share. And the social media networks make it easy. Instagram allows you to automatically share to Facebook and Tumblr. And Pinterest allows you to share on Twitter (although the experience is a bit awkward).
Just because you're enjoying something in the moment doesn't mean it's a decisive moment. Does it fit within one of your themes? Refine your approach. If you're not sure, take time to think about it.
When you reflect on your reflex to automatically share everything to all of your networks, you make the experience more meaningful. Besides, if people really want to follow you, they'll seek you out on the other social platforms. You don't need to push your content across multiple platforms all of the time.
4. Choose your platforms wisely
- Instagram is the bread and butter of social media. It's instant gratification on steroids. It's where you go to share more personal photos about your life. You don't want to overtly promote your business on Instagram. Even though ads are arriving on Instagram, it needs to be tasteful – not promotional.
- Pinterest is maddeningly addictive (for women, at least). But Manterest may be more your thing if you're a guy. It's Pinterest for dudes. Seriously. Whether you're on Pinterest or Manterest, create boards that fit your personality, and pin images that show what you and your business is about. Try to find the balance between pinning photos that are personal and professional. It shouldn't be too difficult to find this balance if you're over the age of 21, and if you have a career.
- Flickr just celebrated its 10th birthday. And with over 1 million photos shared per day, this platform is still going strong. It's the best option for professional photographers who want more control with their copyright.
- Pressgram is the best way to filter and publish photos to WordPress. It's the perfect option if you seek a balance between the professional platform of Flickr and the more creative vibe of Instagram. It's also a good fit if you want to retain ownership of your content.
- Keep in mind that you don't need to be on all of these platforms. Choose the ones that work best with your personality, and the platform that is the most intuitive for you.
5. Feature photographs in your pitches
If you're pitching to the media, don't underestimate the importance of a good visual. It will help you stand out to reporters. And it's a quick, fun way to communicate. If you're being featured in a major magazine, make sure that you have a high-quality headshot. You'll need it when you give your rock solid media interview.
Visual media today means that you need to reflect and refine. Create context behind your camera. Question the status quo. Create and consume more quality – so that you can make a bigger impact with your business, and visually appeal to the world.