Visual Affects: Selecting Photos to Market Your Trip
You’ve chosen your destination, crafted your itinerary, and devised your marketing plan – now it’s time to advertise your trip. Whether you’re using print ads, social media, posters, or brochures, there’s one unifying element that goes a long way to your success: photos.
In an increasingly visual-oriented world, potential consumers respond more immediately and instinctively to a photo, rather than written copy. So what strategies can you use to select the right photos to not only represent your trip, but excite interest in signing up?
Color, lighting, and dimensions
These are photography and design basics: choose a photo that’s vibrant, well-lit, and suited for the dimensions of your final output.
Color. Choosing a photo for nature travel can pose a color challenge, because so many subjects are dominated by a similar color palette – shades of green, blue, brown, or gray. So, try to choose a photo that has more than one color in the scheme, better still if they’re distinct from each other. Color contrast is your friend – especially when you’re using multiple photos side by side.
Lighting. With the sun as their only light source, lighting in the field can be troublesome for nature photographers. Try to choose photos that aren’t backlit or high-contrast between the bright and dark areas. Avoid using photos where the sky is completely white – blue sky is best, but even clouds with definition are better than a completely blank sky.
Remember that in print media, photos will print darker than you expect because of differences between your screen and your printer, plus the added effect of ink saturating the paper. If you have the time, try to see a paper copy test before printing in bulk.
Dimensions. If you’re choosing a “header” photo, chances are it’s much longer than it is tall; in this case, consider a panoramic landscape shot along a horizon line. But if you want to use the Resplendent Quetzal, you’re going to need verticality – you don’t want to crop that tail!
Make sure there’s a subject
This advice might steer you away from traditional landscape shots – which could serve you well! When you’re considering a photo, ask yourself: “Is this photo of anything?” Landscapes are beautiful, but if there’s nothing to focus the viewer’s attention, you might be wasting a photo space.
Animals always make great subjects because they can infuse some personality into your imagery. Try to find one that’s making eye contact with the camera! This pulls a viewer in, and encourages them to engage with the image.
People make great subjects, but these photos are harder to come by unless you’re taking them yourself. Candid shots of travelers engaged with their surroundings and/or each other are the ultimate goal, if you can find them!
Make it graphic
At best, your trip can be represented by one iconic photo – almost like a branded logo. In this sense, “iconic” and “iconographic” cover the same territory, and choosing a photo that meets this criteria requires some artistic vision. Look for color, lines, and patterns that support your subject and take it beyond a simple photograph.
Sometimes graphic visuals break the normal rules. For example, color contrasts can be graphic – but so can color uniformity. Colors can represent your destination exactly the way an icon should: Costa Rica is green; Antarctica, blue; Namibia, orange.
Set the tone
Ultimately, your trip has a “personality,” and your photos can communicate that. Identify the emotions you want your participants to feel – wonder, discovery, awe, excitement, etc. – and try to find a photo that elicits that response. If a picture can impart those reactions, imagine what your participants will feel when they’re actually in the field with you.