The learned people at MIT found that a human brain processes a typical image in 13 milli seconds. On the other hand the brain takes about a few minutes to digest the content of a sentence depending upon the rate of reading for the person. Nature by the process of evolution has baked into our brain – the ability to digest a piece of information from our sight at a rapid pace for our survival. At the time when the Christians were fed to the Lions, your life expectancy will be a few minutes if you don’t take evasive action when you spot a hungry lion in the distance.
Come to think about it, in the scale of our existence in this planet, the language skill – especially the ability to read came pretty late. So it is not a big surprise that our reading skill is no match against our skill to grasp what our eyes sees which we share with all living creatures.
The amygdala, a part of the brain helps to process sensory input which finally builds up evoking emotions like fear and pain amongst others. Studies have confirmed the role played by the amygdaloid complex in the processing of perceived objects with appropriate emotional response.
Nature has taught us to quickly process the image we see through our eyes within a short span of time and we capture images just like a camera in a series of pictures. When our brain sees an image, it triggers a flurry of activities inside the brain – association and connection mapped to our past experience both actual and primordial.
Visual cues combined with the main images help the brain to evaluate appropriate response and the emotion. This is how the brain recognizes a friendly face from a sea of other faces. The processing of visual information is highly evolved in almost all creatures. The tiny brain of the Honey bee weighing the same as a sesame seed is capable of processing visual information a lot faster than your desk top computer and it can recognize thousands of patterns so important for the bee to identify and operate in a 4 mile radius.
Images are complicated as are most things in life. Often the most important thing in the image – our sight – is cluttered with peripheral details or drowned in useless detritus. Brains are configured to figure out what matters and what doesn’t in a short span of time – a trait passed on to us from our ancestors.
Some images evoke positive responses while some result in a negative emotion. Sound also evokes similar results in our brains – but that is a topic we reserve for another day. Deep bass rhythmic drum beat like sound has shown to induce a sense of calm and lower stress levels in our body as it mimics the sound produced by the mother’s heartbeat. A mother’s womb is the safest place for a fetus and her heartbeat is the only sound that reassures the fetus of its safety.
Now that we have established the importance of the role of images in our perception, we will identify the elements in an image that will translate to evoking positive responses.
Various media spend billions of dollars to create Insightful images which sell an idea or a concept.
Most visual media professionals agree on one thing – the best image is the one that evokes a positive emotion. The image must convey a thought, an idea or a story. To quote Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus when chances upon Helen of Troy –
“Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.”
We will quote our own story of creating insightful images.
When we started TargetWoman – this idea of an insightful image was drilled into the minds of the team managing visual creative. Before an article was put through the process of editing, the gist of the page was assigned to the team. The whole exercise was to brainstorm amongst the members of the team to come up with a concept and translate that concept/idea to an appropriate image.
Looking back we can summarize what image worked in terms of popularity and what images sank without a trace out of several thousand images we published.
1. Be Positive: People react strongly to positive images. If the page is about an ailment – don’t show the ravaged affected part. Instead show a picture of cure. Your image should offer hope instead of despair. Most of our topic in TargetWoman is about health. So we follow this rule religiously. Here is an example of the topic:
2. Be creative with your picture – angle, texture, lighting, shadows and props. Your picture is competing for attention amongst a thousand images and it has just about a few hundred milli seconds to create an impression. It just has to be arresting.
Our Example here is
3. Connect with the audience: Research who your target audience are and connect with them. Our target audience are educated women. That is the reason why most of our pages are over 900 words long. The pictures in our pages aim to establish a common theme. Our Example: