How to make your images memorable

Above: Fisherman, Cebu, photographed on Canon 5DMK 111 and 24-105mm lens using off camera speedlight and 50cent plastic modifier.

A good photo gets noticed but will be easily forgotten, a good photo with a great story becomes memorable.

There’s heaps of great advice on the interwebs these days about how to get your images noticed. Getting lots of views and likes is the secret to success right? Well yes, having lots of people looking at your work is great, but it’s not enough and here’s why.

What’s the point of being noticed if nobody remembers your images or who took them?

Great photography stands out. No argument here but there are thousands of award-winning amazing photos posted online each day. How can anyone possibly compete with so much beauty? The short answer is you can’t. If you’re trying to stand out by having the most technically gorgeous photo in the world you are fighting a losing battle. Beauty is forgettable, so is being the best or technically most proficient.

Beauty and talent can make a dazzling impact, just watch a beautiful young woman walk into a party and notice how everyone stops to stare at her or the talented performer on a reality singing show that wins the finale. Their beauty and talent gets them noticed but sadly nobody remembers the hot girl at the party’s name or who won the last series of a reality singing show.

People will never forget how you made them feel

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

The thing that makes a photo memorable has nothing to do with the camera, lens, subject or post processing. An image is made memorable by its story.

A beautiful image will always be noticed, just like the hot girl that walks into a party but it’s the story behind the photo that gives it depth and makes it memorable.

A photo of a man hugging his dog is sweet but not that memorable. Then you find out that the dog has been trapped under the rubble of the man’s home for the last five days. The man lost his entire family and home when his village was hit by a tornado. The photo was good, the story just made it memorable.

You don’t need a tragic story to make a photo memorable. Good news is just as memorable, and so are the things that inspire you.

When photographer Brandon Stanton started his Instagram account documenting the people he met in his local neighborhood, he got an okay response. When he started adding a paragraph about each person with each image, his humble blog exploded in popularity. His blog is called Humans of New York and he now has over 6.9 million followers, multiple books and travels the world photographing people and writing about their stories.

Brandon’s images are good, and when combined with the story behind each of the images they become powerful and memorable.

So next time you post a photo on social media try and spend a few extra minutes sharing the story behind the image. It may be the fact that you got soaked with rain just to capture the image or how you first noticed the beautiful stranger you just photographed. It doesn’t need to be a Pulitzer Prize winning novel either. Start with a few lines and see how you go. If that’s too hard then find a quote that sums up how you feel.

What images are your most memorable and what was the story behind them? I’d love to hear about them.

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