Sitting on the top ledge of my desk is a small stack of books, including Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person, which has been one in a series that have served as guideposts the last six years and helped me find positive associations for the adjective that so often felt shaming, "sensitive." I've grown to understand and even treasure the real benefits of the trait (referred to by the book as 20 percent of individuals who absorb and process information with greater depth). The trait has helped me as a researcher and social person to quickly perceive information about people and situations.
But the truth is I haven't opened the book in some time. In fact the past three years I've opened it hardly at all, a sharp contrast to graduate school when I read it and its close relative- Elaine Aron's The Highly Sensitive Person, an HSP-like bible, so often they practically slept on my pillow with me. As I've aged and gained new experiences the book, although I still feel tenderly towards it, sits more as a memorial to those prior moment of self-revelation.
Ever the one to invest in self-growth, I'm now investigating the ultra-masculine framed work of Darren Hardy, success coach for the rich and famous. I'm synthesizing the privilege and empowerment seeded into Darren's tools with the prior wisdom I mined from the highly sensitive evangelists. Certainly more to come on this front.
We are in the age of images. The saying 'a picture is worth a thousand words' has never been more true.
The topic was at the heart of a conversation I found myself in last night at a local wine bar. Sipping merlot, I had just met Biljana and Vlatko, a photographer and web developer, at Cafe Novella's wine tasting event. Biljana, who goes by Bibi, had started a friendly conversation with me after learning I had just been living in Sarajevo. "We got married and two days later the war started," she stated with a detectable edge of Balkan humor.
Bibi, now a highly skilled photographer in St. Louis, built her business from scratch with Vlatko at her side. Our conversation quickly turned to business.
"You've got twelve seconds when they are on your website," Vlatko said, his tall frame leaning on the bar, one leg hiked up on the leg of a stool. Twelve seconds," he paused for effect, "they scroll, scroll, scroll and then you're in or you're out."
He was talking of course, about the millennials. The infamous ADHD generation of clicks and likes. My generation, built on the shoulders of stained recipe cards and Lunchables, we inherited a taste for quality AND productivity.
Bibi went and got her Ipad. We stood, scrolling through the images of women's bridal silhouettes in comfortable repose- long shimmering gowns, heads tilted, eyes peering over shoulders, through curtains. 'Every person is beautiful! I really believe that!' She told me giddily.
So, what does an organization do to compete in the span of twelve seconds?
Scientists have known for a long time that images have profound effects on the brain. There are reasons why images are powerful. According to researchers they:
1) Evoke emotion
2) Increase recall
3) Help not to overwhelm your brain
Eye-catching images evoke feeling, are memorable, and communicate complex messages and values simply and aesthetically. If you only have twelve seconds, then choose your images thoughtfully. In the age of information overload, which images best represent you? How does one choose?
Tips for Selecting Your Website Photos
When choosing a photo for your website, have a list at your side of your organization's values.
Generate a list with answers to the following questions:
1. What are my values? Is it integrity? Loyalty? Equity?
2. What pictures come to mind when I think about my values?
3. What do the photos on my site depict? Do they represent the values I would like to convey?
Consider photos that come to mind when you look at your answers.
It helps to have a talented photographer at your side who can photograph you, your work, and what you believe or value most. If you are in need of high-quality images, you can find some for free online or hire a local photographer to capture what you or your organization do best. Don't forget to credit your photographers if you do not use your own photos.
Bibi's and Vlatko now work primarily with elite bridal clients and commercials in the St. Louis area. Browsing through their impressive bridal fashion gallery, one hardly notices the different shapes, sizes, skin colors, and settings of each photo because Bibi's clear, consistent values of class, beauty, and style are found throughout. Her photos sell her photography service but also what Bibi loves and values most about her work. Now, what are your photos saying about you?