When we look at a photograph, we start seeing ourselves, even without meaning to do so.
This is why you can never put a ‘problem' in your photograph.
But how can that be true? When you see the newspaper photos, they always seem to have something that's blown up, or burnt down, or something that seems to be a problem. Ah yes, but that problem is meant to get your attention. And it does a great job keeping that attention when it's editorial-based.
But when you're buying something you don't want to see problems.
You don't want to see soap for ‘normal women' (no matter what Dove Soap thinks).
You don't want to see a guy with a big fat paunch, selling you a fitness program.
What you want to see is the finished product.
You want to see the woman with the silky soft Dove skin.
You want to see the guy all muscular with these rippling abs.
And bizarre as it may sound, you see yourself in those photos.
Photos have an instant impact. There's zero ambiguity.
But words have a completely different impact. Therefore words should never be solution-based. Because that's the job of the photo. The words need to bring out the issues at stake. This is because you need the words to act as an attraction device. And the best way to attract the brain is to drive home the problem.
Which is why, when we look at the cover of Men's Health for instance, the headline says: ‘Go from fat to fit.' Or ‘Scrawny to Brawny.' And that's the headline doing its job bringing in the problem—and only then the solution. The photo on the other hand doesn't have a problem at all.
1) Headline=Must have a problem (and solution). If you can't fit it all on the headline, use the subhead.
2) Photo= Must have the solution. And nothing else. Show the final product or service in all its glory.
Photos are mirrors. Don't forget that!
And yes, don't forget to make sure you read the Brain Audit (if you haven't done so already). It outlines in great detail how a customer thinks and why they do what they do.