IS098X8VH © Gary John Norman / Image Source
© Gary John Norman / Image Source

Travel imagery offers a variety of advertising metaphors. This month’s Best-Selling photo on Image Source by Gary John Norman finds stillness in the rush

Travel is one part geography and one part psychology, it’s why imagery is so useful in advertising, tapping into our strangely deep expectations of what Travel can deliver.  In pre-modern times there was the pilgrimage, Travel as religious journey to the Holy Land or shrines, pilgrims seeking forgiveness, repentance,  a change in their lives. In the 18th Century there was the Grand Tour, the upper classes travelling to cities such as Venice, on an educational, cultural pilgrimage. And while contemporary Travel may actually be about ‘Escape’ – weekend break/stag or hen weekend/ chilling by the beach – we still mentally file ‘Travel’ and its imagery under ‘Experience’  and ‘Discovery’.

So this month’s Image Source best-seller by Gary John Norman potentially ticks off a range of general ideas associated with travel, but Norman’s photo delivers some very specific visual cues for advertisers.  Such as: ‘Touch’, as the hand glides over the surface of the water: or ‘Flow’ in the blur of the water; and most of all ‘Balance’ which really focuses the eye in this image.

We can now add ‘geometry’ to the list of things Travel ticks off. Norman’s shot and crop provides a perfect symmetry, two triangles divide the image diagonally, either side of the arm bisecting the photo, the viewer drawn to identifying with the woman in the boat, leaning over. The foreground is all movement in the blurring of the water, rushing towards us, the background is the horizon the straight lines of the boat and arm. There’s order and balance in this vision of movement. It’s why this would be a highly effective Business or Financial Services image pitching stability. Or the business person or organisation being ‘in-the-zone’ the calm in the chaos, in the moment. Equally it could work in the technology sector with metaphors around touch and flow.

Look up any quotation site and there’s a hugely rich set of reflections around the meaning, purpose and value of travel. Our idea, our vision of Travel has long survived the often grim reality of it, not least because no matter how unglamorous modern travel is, it still gives us a useful and productive sense of dislocation, of leaving something of ourselves behind.  It’s why my favourite Travel insight comes from Canadian author Douglas Coupland’s novel Player One, where he mashes together the modern and the old in an ironic and true observation on contemporary travel, “..a plane trip exposes you to situations and landscapes unthinkable until recent history, moments of magnificence and banality that dissolve what few itty-bitty molecules of individuality you possess. After a plane trip, you need to rebuild your ego, to shore up your sense of being unique. That’s why religions target airports to find new recruits…”. I might just rediscover my balance with a quick peek at Gary John Norman’s photo.

Click here for Gary John Norman’s website

Click here to see more of Gary John Norman’s work on Image Source


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