Emotional Response to Images: Is it Better to Go Weird?
I’ve worked for some of the most boring publications in the known universe. When it came to using stock images, the requests from editors was the usual “people shaking hands,” “guy thinking” or “business person at desk.” If you look at any business publication or web site, you will usually notice the same exact stock image used on two or more. How boring and indicative of the stagnation in design for certain industries.
Sure, you say, “but my boss wants those boring images. What can I do about it?” Well, I’ve always been of the mind that you can always go a bit further. Actually, I say that I’ll swing for the fence and editors will have to pull me back. I find that by going as far as possible, I’m allowed to go a bit further then those who try to self-edit, going for the safest solution right off the bat. If you’re concerned about adding impressive pieces to your portfolio or just want to create work that consumers and clients will notice, then go weird and hope for the best!
Psychologically, people take notice of the odd, out of the ordinary and things that are different. When flipping through pages or quick-click surfing, it’s always the odd images that capture attention. Thing about it and you’ll have to agree it’s very true. How often do you click on a link because the image intrigues you? Take a look at some of these affordable stock images and think about what they can do for your designs and the impact they will have on viewers.
With the popularity of the Mad Men TV series, the same look as the opening infographic is hip, cool, utilizes the high recognition factor and is so much cooler than the usual businessperson standing and thinking about which direction he/she should go.
“When you need a hand to put out small fires,” would be the headline for an insurance company. Otherwise, I have no idea what one would use this image for but it’s cool! Have any funny captions in mind? Write them in the comments section.
Why use a boring crowd scene of people in business suits or knit cap-clad hipsters when an image like this can evoke emotion, angst and interest?
It’s the artistry of this piece that sets it apart from the usual photo. Quick reaction and message communication is the key to an effective image.
It’s not so much the image but the content of a man’s arms with what looks like a woman’s outfit. It’s weird, disturbing and fascinating. I wonder what he-she is reading?
Got milk? Maybe but I’ll definitely have nightmares, too!
Nothing’s better than a clown in prison, except a clown in a coffin, being lowered into a grave. Still the image is powerful and can be used for many applications.
“What are the best times to tweet?” It’s odd but sex sells…if you can find the sex, that is!
Illustration definitely isn’t used enough in editorial pieces these days. This piece is a real attention grabber as well as a bit nightmarish.
Sometimes a stock image lends itself to the addition of whatever other images or type you’d like to add. While the image is fairly standard, the ability to dress it up with your own idea is a great chance to bump it up as a fabulous image.
A simple image but think of the fun when everyone refers to it as “the image of the girl with the huge chest.” The inter-departmental joke is worth the $1.00 cost until it’s replaced with something else. Sometimes you just need to laugh.
It might be a tattoo for the Crips cleaning crew. Otherwise, it plunges to new depths of weirdness but if you have a chance to use it, then you’ll be flush!
Well, I’m at a loss but if you have an article about slow hands, it’s perfect!
Who can’t use an image of a woman in a see-thru dress strangling a fat white man? The possibilities are endless!
Where does Ron Weasley go now that the Harry Potter series is over? Again, the man crawling on his hands and knees offers a bit of a different image to someone standing.
If you need to show the number six, what’s better than a human mutation? The out-of-the-ordinary image always catches attention and the viewer will spend a few extra seconds on the page, which helps assure they will read on.
See the Difference
Now that we’ve looked at some odd images, let’s do a little test. Check out these images and see what you think.
Which image is more effective? This one or Ron Weasley crawling around?
Here’s an image that could be used for “when is the best time to tweet?” Which image is more exciting and intriguing?
For the article on arguing, which would you rather use? This image or the strange illustration included above?
The Psychology of Images
The human brain interprets images not only on the color refraction but also assigns emotional response as well. If you’re afraid of spiders, even a cute spider cartoon will cause you anxiety. Standard images of business people shaking hands can be comfortable but being familiar, the brain will also not register them as it will with images that are unusual as they are unfamiliar and must be interpreted and assigned an emotional response.
The emotional response will encourage a basic feeling about the subject before the person reads the article and even may act to sway the opinion no matter what the content of the article may be or how convincing the editorial argument. Although people react differently to some images, such as the example of spiders but we are ingrained with a collective recognition of certain objects and visual stimuli.
As with the psychology of color, bringing different human emotional response (blue is relaxing, red is energetic, etc.), elements in design must be considered to create a total package of the intended response the message wants to put forth. Conflicting emotional responses will confuse the viewer and cause anxiety, which will cause them to leave the design page, site or ad. As with the choice of color, negative space or type, images are an element and have the same, if not greater importance in a total design. So, when you can, go bold and create a bold design.
All images available at GL Stock Images