By CRAIG WHITE
Whoever claimed that “a picture is worth a thousand words” was further ahead of their time than they knew. Given an average word length of seven letters, it takes about 7K of computer storage to store 1000 words - about the same amount to store an image on a web page capable of providing reasonably good detail.
Okay, the purists/geeks out there may wish to get into discussions about compression algorithms and image quality, but this is a cottage website, not a technical forum so take it outside on the deck please! Think back to the following events: Armstrong walking on the moon, Henderson scoring in game eight in Moscow and the student uprisings in Tienammen Square. In each case, I’ll bet specific images came to mind - a grainy black and white Armstrong descending a ladder, Henderson’s stick raised in victory while being embraced by teammates or one defiant Chinese youth standing before an oncoming tank.
Good photographs don’t merely show us “things”, they convey an entire experience. A photographer could take a thousand photos of tanks, or students, or protests, but that single image conveys the willingness of a generation to risk their life for an ideal in defiance of a military juggernaut - not just a picture of a tank.
Photographs appearing on your CottageLINK (or other website) listing may not have quite the same historical significance, of course, but in the same fashion as the images mentioned above, it is important to impart to prospective buyers/renters the cottaging experience that awaits them should they choose your property.
Ideally, a browser should be scanning the photos on your listing and thinking “wow - that's the perfect spot,” then browsing through the text to confirm that the details match his/her requirements. You’re not just promoting a roof, four walls and some nearby water and trees...you’re offering an opportunity to live in a tranquil, cozy haven bounded by pristine, cleansing waters and timeless forest.
Rather than send in a couple of photos that just happen to be available, consider the message you want to convey and whether or not these photos meet that image. If they don’t, they might not be very effective - in fact, a poor photo can have a very negative impact.
A shot taken on a rainy or cloudy day might falsely exude a sense of gloom that will quickly send people elsewhere. Better to wait until you have something appropriate than something that might turn people away.
A good idea is to keep a camera at the ready whenever you’re at the cottage (just keep it away from the sand - the two are VERY incompatible). Photos are relatively inexpensive to experiment with (especially if you are afforded the luxury of a digital camera), so be sure to take several. This will negate the “oops” factor that can plague even the most seasoned of shutterbugs. If you just can't see yourself ever getting the right shot, consider hiring a professional – it will be more expensive but may well pay for itself many times over in the rental or sale receipts.
This past summer, my family and I took our first overseas vacation and used the opportunity to bag hundreds of photographs and hours of video. In retrospect, the shots I like best are the ones that help me capture the feelings I had when I was taking the photo.
To illustrate what I’ve just told you about mood, consider the following frame. It was taken at the Palace of Versailles just outside Paris. I cannot begin to describe in words the splendour of these gardens. Yet since it turned out to be a dull, muggy day, the colours appear nowhere near as vivid as I can remember. The photos I have for the scrapbook tell me I was there, but they don’t tell the whole story and I am forced to supplement verbally whenever I show them to others.
Four days later, standing on a plain near Salisbury in England, the story was different. With a little patience and careful positioning I was able to get the shot you see above. I’m not by any means the world’s greatest photographer but there are few shots with which I’ve ever been more satisfied.
Months later I still get shivers when I remember the feeling of standing at Stonehenge, not sure whether I was hearing wind or the voices of ancient ghosts whispering on the air. It should be noted that I got a few shots a half hour earlier in full sunlight, and while they showed the stones in detail, they evoked far fewer responses from friends ... they simply did not convey the mysticism that one wants to associate with this particular landmark. This photo has graced a few computers around the office, and more than one person has told me “Gee, I’d LOVE to visit there.” Strangely, no one has mentioned that about Versailles, which in truth is far more spectacular.
To sum up, think of any travel brochure you’re ever looked at. Have you ever seen a bad photo on one of them? Do you think this is by accident? The producers of these brochures know very well the power of images. Since your cottage listing is in fact a brochure, why would you not take the time to make sure you're looking your best?
In a world where eye-candy from all sides competes for the eyes of your potential beholders, it isn’t just a good idea - it’s a requirement.