The Photo Message

Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California

See complete info and history at the Library of Congress. (You own this image!)

Since the invention of photography almost 200 years ago (1822) images have come to saturate our lives and culture. They constitute a powerful but slippery language and a new way of knowing the world. They are, in short, essential building blocks of contemporary life and culture.

This project is about creating and using photography to promote a specific message. It is intended as an introduction to (or continuing practice in) the medium. It is also an investigation into photography’s strengths, weaknesses, and possibilities as a vehicle for advertising and marketing. As with the entire class it will acquaint future practitioners (photographers, writers, videographers, and designers), with future communications professionals (whose job it is to orchestrate all these messages), and also with future managers and executives whose job it will be to hire and work with practitioners and communications professionals. I anticipate that everyone will learn both how easy it can be to make their own content, and how hard it is to do it well. All involved will also gain a detailed understanding of the entire marketing apparatus, fostering transparency and cooperation.

Here is a relevant toy and article for this assignment:

How to Market on Flickr

Touchgraph Facebook Browser

Images will be graded on: 1) how effectively they communicate their intended message and 2) how well you are able to promote them and your message to a wider audience. Therefore flickr view ranking, Facebook likes, and ultimately search engine ranking will be significant factors in grading. Also (your) student responses will affect grading; each student is required to make one response in this forum to another student’s image.

Please post your image (as a new post, not a comment) and be sure to include keyword optimized ALT text and a separate caption. (Make sure that you have first posted it to you image sharing site and copied the image link.) When you post your image hit the HTML tab and the img button. You will be prompted for the link URL and then your keyword optimized ALT image description.

You each must also post detailed answers to the following questions with your photo:

1) Objectives
What should the piece help achieve? What specifically are you trying to say? What’s the message? List specific actions you would like a viewer to take after seeing your image? Can you add text or links that will facilitate any of those desired actions?

2) Target Audience
Who (what groups or kinds of people) are you trying to reach?


About Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor teaches photography, graphic design, and visual art in a wide-variety contexts from Burlington City Arts, to the Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center, to Green Mountain College and Castleton State University. In 2005 he was selected as a University of Vermont Teacher of the Year. He has been a working graphic designer since 1993, and a photographer and visual artist since 1995.
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