Some Prose on Posing
Cross your arms and voila: You’re a Realtor!
By Ed Goldman
The two men may as well be Old West gunfighters, taking a moment to assess the odds of winning a fight against the Clantons (of OK Corral infamy). I hear Elmer Bernstein’s rousing score for “The Magnificent Seven” on the soundtrack in my feverish mind.
Writers are shelf-ish individuals
-Real estate agents strike the same pose most of the time: They cross their arms and stare into the camera, their faces smiling but firm—as if to say, “Go ahead. Make my sellers an offer they can refuse.”
-Developers, especially the guys, like to pose at their job sites, holding a rolled-up set of plans in one hand, a firm mayoral handshake in the other. They often are depicted wearing hard hats emblazoned with their company’s logo, white shirts and ties but, significantly, no jackets—as if to suggest that at any second they’re going to send all of the union carpenters on break, roll their sleeves up—while being careful not to catch their Rolex watchbands in their monogrammed Mansur Gavriel cufflinks or on their David Yurman pinkie rings —and build the damn homes themselves. And why? Because this is America, for God’s sake.
-Attorneys prefer to be pictured in front of bookcases, presumably in their vast, multi-volumed law libraries. I’m not sure why they consider this good advertising. To me, it sends a message that they may not know anything about your case but do know how to look stuff up. It would be like a mechanic standing in front of a poster featuring the diagram of a car engine. (Now, a butcher often displays drawings of cows with various portions labeled—but that’s to help consumers decide if they want a T-bone, ribeye or fillet, not as locators for the butcher, who already has a pretty good idea where to find them.)
-Many physicians think you’ll be comforted if they wear a stethoscope and white coat in their official photos. Surgeons like sporting their green scrubs and sometimes, caps. Cosmetic dentists enjoy pictures in which they and their staff are grinning maniacally, exhibiting their perfect smiles and a shade of Day-Glo white that doesn’t exist in the natural environment.
– Owners of professional sports teams frequently have their own pictures taken in empty stadiums. I’m not sure this is good salesmanship. They probably think it demonstrates what a large, immaculate venue you’ll be coming to—but in this entering post-pandemic era, I find it’s too much of a reminder of how attendance understandably plunged when they weren’t allowed to let in any attendees.
-Tech startups have a difficult time finding proper imagery to illustrate what they do. Some think there’s nothing more compelling than a photo of seven people standing around a computer. Others opt for abstract graphic solutions, implying that what they do is somewhat akin to the familiar DNA nucleic acid double helix, combined with multiple arrows, to delineate either work flow or colonoscopies-in-progress.
As a final aside: Sometimes, even language fails startup boosters, which may be why so many of them disappear along that golden path to IPO Nirvana.
A friend of mine and I once met with just such a company, which wanted to engage us to create a prospectus for potential investors. After the Nevada City company’s top brass gave us a 20-minute sales pitch, my friend, a graphic designer who shall remain nameless (oh, all right, it’s the talented watercolorist Michael Dunlavey), asked, “And what is it you do, exactly?”
But Mike and I were paid. It proves that sometimes it’s less costly to pose a question than for a photo.