Are you Using Pictures to Enhance your Content?

s  What impres­sion do you con­vey with your words? I hope it is a good one. Truth is no mat­ter how good your words mod­ern audi­ences think visu­al­ly. Using pic­tures helps frame your piece. Pub­lished mate­r­i­al requires images to entice and keep read­ers. Every writer should learn to embed visu­al com­po­nents to enhance how read­ers under­stand pages. I select­ed the fea­tured image for this post as it shows how visu­al image can cap­ti­vate an audience.

Posts Without Pictures

If you write about any­thing that con­jures visu­al imagery, such as his­to­ry, sports, recipes, des­ti­na­tions, the lat­est mobile phone tech­nol­o­gy then you should add a pic­ture on every occa­sion. Most blog posts require more than one. Espe­cial­ly when demon­strat­ing dif­fer­ent aspects of that top­ic. Per­haps a dia­gram is nec­es­sary to showthe options avail­able (and often includ­ing a video will fur­ther enhance the pre­sen­ta­tion). Remem­ber there are also plen­ty of dry top­ics. These demand images to make them more pre­sentable. Using pic­tures makes arti­cles a lit­tle eas­i­er to under­stand. Read­ers will also for­give you for mak­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion a lit­tle less bor­ing. Too many blog posts have lim­it­ed or no visu­al impact. Writ­ers must under­stand the Inter­net is today a visu­al envi­ron­ment not a tex­tu­al one.

Political symbolUsing text alone to con­vey your mes­sage cam leave your work flat and unap­peal­ing, no mat­ter how pow­er­ful the words or mes­sage are. Pic­tures are often used to enhance offi­cial doc­u­ments. One exam­ple is bal­lot slips that car­ry the sym­bols of the polit­i­cal par­ties in many coun­tries. The pic­ture here is for one of the UK polit­i­cal parties.

Next time you write any­thing you should ask your­self how you can visu­al­ly enhance your mate­r­i­al. I am sure you can find a way. It is even pos­si­ble to add images to fic­tion­al works in order to enhance them, show moods etc. Images cause breaks in the work. They add white space around them, give the read­er per­mis­sion to pause and take in some of the scenery before con­tin­u­ing to read.

Use Face­book, Twit­ter, or any oth­er social net­work it’s easy to see that the most pop­u­lar posts are those with pic­tures. You’re miss­ing out if you don’t use pic­tures or images to add to the mean­ing of your work.

Pictures Entice/Engage Readers

Headlines by Artsy Bee CC) Public Domain from Pixabay        If you go back to the ear­ly 1800s and look at any news­pa­per from that era, there were no pic­tures  to enhance the sto­ries told and with the tech­nol­o­gy of the day print­ing pic­tures was so cost­ly even the adver­tise­ments that paid for the print­ing process were pri­mar­i­ly text-based. With the cam­era it became pos­si­ble to cap­ture images. Increas­ing­ly the world of news­pa­pers used pic­tures to aid the telling of the sto­ry. In some instances the pic­ture cap­tured the sto­ry more effec­tive­ly than words could (and this has become par­tic­u­lar­ly true of colour pic­tures used in more mod­ern pub­li­ca­tions). Yet, com­bin­ing words and pic­tures make the best presentation.

You may won­der why I am refer­ring to the news­pa­per of yes­ter­year. This is because many arti­cle writ­ers of the cur­rent peri­od bring, news and com­men­tary, onto the Inter­net, through blogs and writ­ing sites. Each writer needs to devel­op their own style. Arguably all the news and all the infor­ma­tion you’ll ever need today is avail­able on the Inter­net. This is dis­cov­ered in sev­er­al ways. Through search engines, social media, or shar­ing sites and oth­er infor­ma­tion feeds. Pho­tos on Face­book gen­er­ate 53% more Likes than text alone. It is cer­tain­ly true that the pic­ture sells the sto­ry. Once the read­er opens the right arti­cle the visu­al appeal helps retain the read­er and keep them on the site longer. Accord­ing to The Next Web “visu­als can con­vey up to six times more infor­ma­tion than words alone”, ample rea­son to enhance your words with an appro­pri­ate image.

What Visuals Should I use?

What visuals should I use

It is valid to ask what visu­als you should select as there are poten­tial­ly mil­lions to choose from. From Google Images select any top­ic you think of and you are like­ly to see hun­dreds of pic­tures, maybe thou­sands. I am not say­ing that you select any of those. They can give you some idea of the types of images that may apply when you are unable to think of some­thing to use.

Take a look it the dia­gram above to under­stand how to approach select­ing the right image or pic­ture. You start by look­ing at what is the most appro­pri­ate pic­ture to use in order to enhance the ele­ment you are cur­rent­ly writ­ing, then you need to find where you may source it. In sourc­ing pic­tures it is nec­es­sary to think about copy­right, dis­cussed in the next sec­tion. You own any­thing you have cre­at­ed, such as the pho­to you snapped on your mobile phone. You can use it with­out wor­ry­ing (even if there is a pub­lic image that is iden­ti­cal to yours).

Copyright and Pictures

Own­er­ship is an impor­tant thing to under­stand. It is why I include a sec­tion with­in many arti­cles show­ing pic­ture and image cred­its. Copy­right should be an easy con­cept to under­stand, ask your­self if you have the right to copy the pic­ture, nor­mal­ly the answer is a firm “No”.

Gen­er­al­ly it is legal to use anoth­er person’s pic­ture pro­vid­ed you give them cred­it and use of their work has not been specif­i­cal­ly pro­hib­it­ed. If you take a pic­ture of the ceil­ing of The Sis­tine Chapel the image is your copy­right, not the Vat­i­can City’s, not the Pope’s, and not Michelangelo’s (as he has been dead longer than 70 years — the longest amount of time before copy­right expires), but yours because you pressed the but­ton to move the camera’s shut­ter and take the pic­ture. The same is true if you take a pic­ture in a pop con­cert or at the Super-bowl (which is why pro­mot­ers hate phones with cam­eras on them).

Look        In addi­tion to pic­tures you have tak­en your­self, there is soft­ware freely avail­able that can turn pic­tures into car­toons, alter images, add quotes or text to pic­tures, merge pic­tures togeth­er into a col­lage etc. so there is no rea­son to be afraid of using images to enhance your work. There are also plen­ty of pub­lic domain or roy­al­ty-free images that are avail­able. Sev­er­al years ago I pur­chased sev­er­al CD col­lec­tions which include roy­al­ty free pic­tures, draw­ings and car­toons. I use these to enhance many of my own arti­cles. Items, such as “Look” used here, was pur­chased from IMSI under a license that allows me roy­al­ty free usage.

Microsoft Word and Pow­er­Point can be anoth­er great source of cre­at­ing a visu­al images. This is true for those cre­at­ed using shapes or lists. Most peo­ple have access to these tools, with­out spend­ing a large amount on pho­to enhance­ment software.

Respect the Creator’s Rights

You should respect copy­right when using pic­tures, that said there are plen­ty of pic­tures that can be freely used:

  1. Any­thing avail­able on Wiki­me­dia Com­mons is roy­al­ty free.
  2. Pix­abay will help you find a suit­able pub­lic domain picture.
  3. Images Source has a wide col­lec­tion of roy­al­ty free images.
  4. Get­ty Images has over 35 mil­lion images roy­al­ty free (many for news­wor­thy topics).
  5. Freeim­ages is anoth­er library of about 400,000 images.
  6. Open­pho­to col­lec­tion of stock pho­tos, not all are free.
  7. Stock­vault offers images for per­son­al non-com­mer­cial use.
  8. Morgue­file  A good search­able image collection.
  9. iStock­Pho­to also offers some free images

I make fre­quent use of Pix­abay. These all images avail­able free of copy­right. They are avail­able for pub­lic use under a cre­ative com­mons or pub­lic domain licence. Images may be down­loaded, mod­i­fied, dis­trib­uted, and used roy­al­ty-free for any pur­pose you like, they may even be used in com­mer­cial appli­ca­tions, and attri­bu­tion is not required.



Buy Peter B. Giblett a cof­fee as a thank you for dis­cussing the pow­er of pic­tures to enhance your blog. All images used here are either cre­at­ed or owned by Peter Giblett, come from a roy­al­ty free image col­lec­tion pur­chased by the writer are sourced from a pub­lic domain loca­tion, such as Pixabay.





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