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Keepin’ it real

Hokey pictureUsually, my domain is words. But I’m a realist. No one will read my words if there’s no picture on the page.

Which brings me to the value of using the right custom photography.

Today, I got a flyer inserted in my newspaper for a company promoting Super Bowl food and products. This flyer had great production values: quality paper. Tight copywriting. Clear, well-organized layout. Nice typography. And good prices, too.

But the custom photography — a series showing a group of friends holding a Super Bowl party — looked so staged that I focused all my attention on how hokey it was. Stilted poses? Check. Totally unrealistic food styling? Nobody’s party platter looks like that. An ethnically diverse group of people so perky they looked like a 1970s Up With People! reunion? Yup. But not like real folks one bit.

No question this was an expensive photo shoot, with serious efforts to make sure no hair was out of place or crumb allowed to escape. But credibility? Not on your pig-in-a-blanket. But it did serve as a useful reminder to assign some authenticity to custom images and ratchet up the believability factor.

— Gretchen Schmidt