Lessons from Photography: 9 Tips for Training

As I was wandering through my Twitter stream, I came across a link that said, “Lesson from the Scene: Thinking in Images – Nine Tips for Communicating Visually“. It’s a link to an article by Stanley Leary (and here’s his website right here). In it, he gives nine tips for better visual communication. It got me thinking, why can’t we use that for training? So, thanks to Stanley, here are my Lessons from Photography: 9 Tips for Training:

  1. Humanize: Stanley says “For example, to show how small something is, rather than using a ruler, put it in someone’s hand.” Ok, why can’t we do that in training? Rather than writing in the passive tense, or as if our subject occurs in a vacuum, put it in the hands of an actual person. Try including someone in the company, or someone you’ve created. What about an avatar…just humanize the subject, and carry that through the entire training.
  2. Use Good Lighting: “Usually, whatever has the most light on it will become the main subject.” So, in training, I envision this one as an axiom that says “Shine your light on what is most important!”. Focus on the need-to-know, and it will become important. If you focus on the nice-to-know or extraneous information, that will become the main subject.
  3. Try Black and White: I’ll agree, this isn’t a perfect match-up with training, but I interpret this as to say, focus on the basics. Sometimes low-tech will focus attention more than glitz.
  4. Get Closer: “Almost any photo will be better closer up.” And doesn’t this apply to your subject? Get closer to the people who are using it, who will be doing it. Get closer to the subject matter itself. Immerse yourself in it. Almost any training will be better closer up. My number one tip? Use an active voice!
  5. Watch the background: “Look around the subject. Be sure nothing is growing out of a head or sticking in from the edge on the frame”. Look at your subject. Have you clouded up the background of your story? Is there light shining on something other than the main point? Have you digressed and now have a tree growing out of your training subject? Make sure your background is clear. And if you are working on the graphics of learning, make sure the background for the slides, screens, handouts doesn’t distract from the material being presented.
  6. Consider a worm’s eye view or the bird’s eye view: “Change the height of the camera in relation to the subject; avoid making all the photos from a standing position” For training, why present the subject one way only? Can you present it via e-learning and a podcast and via informal learning? Change the way people will see the material.
  7. Seek variety: “Make plenty of photos from different angles”. My interpretation of this is to change how you get the information. Get it from people close to the subject, from people being impacted by the subject, by people developing it, everywhere! And then incorporate all of those people and their words into your training.
  8. Give it time: “Let the subject get used to being photographed. After a while they’ll relax, when the really great photos will start to happen.” For training, let people get used to learning. After time, when they relax, the great learning will start to happen.
  9. Include the environment: “Show the subject doing what they do.” And the same goes for training. Show the subject being used, by real people, in a real environment.

So, these are the nine photography tips from Stanley Leary. Do you agree? Disagree? Have any others?


About Tricia Ransom

Patricia Ransom: wife, daughter, friend. Learning, laughing, living. Chicago, Illinois, downstate. Townie, urbanite, traveller. Note: The opinions expressed on this blog belong solely to me and should not be assumed to reflect the opinions of any of my employers past, current, or future.
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