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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