A chat with Lynda Harris of Write Ltd
Pictures of laptops and coffee cups were once the epitome of stock photography – but not anymore. In a time when 'bespoke' and 'personal' speak louder than 'general' and 'mass-produced', looking for different ways to represent the workplace has become crucial for many organisations striving to create engaging content.
The line between an engaging and a non-engaging photograph can be a fine one, and finding the first instead of the latter is not a simple process. This is often true across the board when it comes to photography. But, ironically, it's particularly the case with office work and people photographs – one of the genres that laid the foundations for the industry to develop.
"We’re a bit tired of ‘laptop and coffee cup images or photos of stickies on a whiteboard’; it’s hard to find engaging images of office work and people," says Lynda Harris, Founder and Chief Executive of Write, a nationwide business consultancy that offers writing services and bespoke training on communication. "We’d like to have access to images that are original and ‘feel like us’.”
Although Write seldom sources photos for client work, they do use images in their own blogs and on social media. Many of these pieces of content revolve around their practice, so they tend to seek pictures that not only reflect the context they live and work in but are relatable to their audience – which has proven difficult when searching through international stock photo databases.
For Lynda and the Write team, this difficulty in finding office-related imagery in traditional stock libraries has resulted in a lot of time wasted in fruitless searching.
“We often have to make do with something that is good – but not great,” says Lynda. “The consequence of using ‘laptop and coffee cup’ images risks us coming across as unoriginal, ‘average’ and a bit boring. We do not relate to those descriptions!" She also highlights that there are certain aesthetic elements they try to steer clear of: "In international stock libraries, there's often something about the way the people are posed or lit that doesn’t quite resonate with us.”
Lynda says it's a 'you-know-when-you-see-it' feeling that helps her team avoid those negative impressions. To illustrate her point, she shares two samples found under the tag 'collaboration' – one from Excio, and the other from a traditional stock library.
In the case of Write, featuring the 'right' photographs instantly makes the blog or social media post more original, outstanding, and exciting. But their choice of images is also based on another factor: engagement. "We don’t choose photos merely to look nice," says Lynda. "Thoughtful images or graphic elements can add so much depth to the meaning of the text and support readers to understand messages quickly in a nuanced way."
"The right photo helps to make the message memorable and creates a mental and emotional anchor point for the reader to come back to. It comes down to what draws the reader in."