One of the most visually stunning films you’re ever likely to see is director/cinematographer Ron Fricke’s “spiritual travelogue” Baraka. This quasi-documentary, filmed in multiple countries over the course of a year, depicts Man’s relationship to nature and his attempt to communicate with the infinite. The glorious 70-millimeter widescreen photography depicts various human activities, from religious ceremonies and dances to the hectic flow of modern industrial life, comparing and contrasting these experiences with the titanic forces of the natural world. It is a powerful, enlightening, occasionally profound experience.
And there’s not a word of dialogue or narration in it.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say, and Fricke’s work certainly demonstrates that. But what do we do when we’re stuck with mere words to convey our corporate mission? Words can have impact when strung together just so, but ultimately we’re still just saying it, right? How do we show it instead?
We use the words to paint pictures.
I did this with a travel agent’s print marketing. I could’ve talked about the great discounts she offered, the special rates you could get if you subscribed to her annual service, and so on. I could have tried to appeal to the rational, thinking brain all day — and the rational, thinking brain, unemotional spoilsport that it is, would have devised rebuttal after rebuttal to thwart my efforts.
So instead of appealing to rationality, I went for the primitive lizard brain, that ancient hunk of cortex way deep down, the brain that WANTS things. The lizard brain doesn’t respond to reason, but it loves sensations. So I evoked images of white sands, crystalline waters, white gulls floating in a deep blue sky. I forced the readers to place themselves in this idyllic dream. And then I said, “Yes, you CAN have this,” and gave them the number to call. And call they did.
Images evoke emotions. You don’t have to be a brilliant painter or photographer to paint compelling pictures. You don’t need a 70-millimeter camera. You don’t even need a paintbrush. All you need is the infinite canvas of your reader’s imagination.