Technical marketing: real life photography is key to better content.

“You have to be willing to press out there to take the risk to push to the edge to your own comfort zone to look for the next right answer (…) when I go after a photograph of an extraordinary vision (…) I try to celebrate what’s best in the shot (…) that connects us with our passion and emancipates the energy (..) our lives are about continuously finding the right next answer, continuously zooming in and out.”  Dewitt Jones.


Working in high-tech entails a significant communication effort because innovations often present novelties and new paradigms which break with what we are accustomed to.  Emerging technologies typically excite curious and open minds while deeply concern many others who might feel impacted by changes.  Promoting necessary shifts can easily prompt a far more intensive communication campaign than what the inventors initially expected.

Developing technical content is a challenge when complexity results in convoluted presentations and self-defeating information overload, confusion and frustration.  Just focusing on simplicity might lowball the value and potential of a great idea, which can then be deprioritized.  In a recent discussion, I emphasized the need for content conveying elegant sophistication instead:

  • elegant means pleasantly grateful, an ingenious and crisp solution which the target audience can understand and value
  • sophistication is about applied wisdom, cracking the code by displaying intellect able to address complex and/or overlooked problems.
  • elegant sophistication appeals to both our emotional and intellectual response systems, sets a new benchmark, delivers an iconic “object of desire.”

Plenty of the work that I have been involved in wrestles with technologies’ new jargon in the making.  Discussing these requires well thought out materials because even brilliant concepts and good  progress can otherwise be severely discounted.  There is nothing worse than content perceived as disingenuous hype and vaporware.

Let’s also consider bloatware’s negative impact by loosing focus.  This happens by overextending, “shooting at everything that moves” and/or pivoting in excess when “trying to be everything to everyone.”  A good friend of mine would also add the kind of credibility issues that arise when well intentioned concepts “defy the laws of physics,” or “gravity” for that matter.  But I do think that questioning and defying what we think we know is one of the sources of innovation.

imageCommunications wise, it pays to outline storyboards that build growing interest and engagement levels as a well structured narrative progresses.  Meaningful content draws from insightful abstractions and supporting facts, clearly stated assumptions and correlated need-to-know data.   The best overall delivery creates memorable experiences that win audiences thanks to a genuine and lasting wow effect.

Following that line of thought, helping visualize concepts and data plays a fundamental role in our cognition.  We happen to acquire far more information and we do so more rapidly by means of our vision than by what can be consumed by all other senses combined.  Envisioning information enables a greater understanding for many of us as discussed in “the art of delivering quality content.”

For these reasons, the presentation materials and discussion tools that I create not only involve messaging, information architecture, storyboarding and infographic work among other items, but also real life photography.  I like to take and display photos that matter, whether those are screenshots of actual user interfaces, pictures of gear and facilities involved or, better yet, capturing telling experiences and relatable moments, humanizing and making the technology more approachable in the process.

At the time of sharing these thoughts, this workstyle happens to stand out in contexts where generic graphic libraries and stereotypical stock photography seems to be at everyone’s fingertips.  Relevant real life photography helps mitigate hype and vaporware perceptions:  arresting enough images convey a more tangible sense of reality when based on assets and people who actually exist, instead of leaving visual communications to art work and graphic icons alone.

After writing the above, Alex F. let me know about Heidi Cohen’s Seven Ways to Use Photographs to Support Content Marketingwhere she covers the following:

  1. Make your products into stars.
  2. Tell your organization’s story.
  3. Enhance your brand.
  4. Show a human face.
  5. Educate viewers to use your product.
  6. Broadcast the news.
  7. Invite customers and the public to share product and brand related photos.

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