Make a Visual Statement


By Ben Montgomery

Physical therapy is about people: their goals, their journeys toward better movement, and those who help them to get there. These are stories we cherish as a profession, and they go a long way toward educating people about the power and the value of physical therapy (PT).

But without photos, worthwhile stories about patients and the physical therapists who help them seem impersonal and incomplete, especially since the story is about physical movement!

People are visual beings, and good photos help with memory, impact, and retention. From an online perspective, photos of extraordinary clients, members of your PT staff, outreach efforts, and moments of achievement also help ensure your content gets read.

A good photo, in other words, can give your web, email, and social media content a notable boost. Consider these stats:

  • Online content with relevant images gets 94 percent more views than content without.1
  • Compared with image-free content, such relevant images improve reader retention from 10 percent to 65 percent over a period of three days.2
  • Visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social networks than other types of content.3

So, if the goal of your physical therapy marketing effort is to engage and inform (and yes, that should be a main goal), visual content is your best friend. But before you run out and hire yourself a photographer for professional-quality images of your staff, patients, and services, remember this:

  • Most of us have all the tools we need in our pockets, purses, or quietly charging on our desks.
  • Our smartphones can do the job. And with a little know-how, our smartphones have the capacity to take photos of outstanding quality.

Just follow a few simple tips that will net you photos you won’t hesitate to publish on your website, post on your Facebook page, or even share with local media:

1. Shoot in HDR Mode
The high dynamic range (HDR) mode of your smartphone’s camera is a nifty, powerful feature that balances the lighting and the color of your image by actually taking three photos at once, then merging them on the fly to optimize the quality.

2. Fill Your Frame
Don’t be shy. Get nice and close to the person or thing you’re photographing, at least enough to fill the frame. Stand too far away, and you’ll lose quality by forcing the need to crop. Oh, and hands off the zoom for the same reason!


3. Go to the Light . . .
Great lighting is your friend. A well-lit area (with natural light, preferably) will help ensure your colors are vibrant and your photos sharp. Don’t rely on the flash for this. You’ll be better off finding another place (or time) where the lighting’s better.

4. . . . But Avoid Backlighting
Putting the subject of your photo in front of a bright window, for instance, is a no-no. Cameras just aren’t equipped to deal with the crazy contrast between the bright background and a subject veiled in shadow.

5. Also Avoid Background Noise
“Noise” is anything in the background that may draw attention away from your subject or important details in the photo. An office plant, photos and imagery on the wall, patterns and textures in the background, even bold colors are types of noise you want to avoid.

6. Be Natural
Don’t make your subject pose, even if you’re just taking headshots for your website’s physical therapy team page. Have a conversation with the subject(s) while you photograph them. Smiles, laughs, and candid looks are better than cheesy, nervous smiles.

7. Take Multiple Shots
What’s your hurry? Don’t limit your options. Take at least five snaps of the same subject or setting before moving on to your next shot. Pick the best one, and discard the rest. It’s a smartphone; it’s digital!


1. www.forbes.com/…/your-guide-to-using-images-in-your-content-marketing-strategy. Accessed April 2017.

2. Medina, John. Brain Rules. Pear Press. 2014

3. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-marketing-strategy. Accessed April 2017.


Ben Montgomery is a former journalist who applies years of copywriting and message development experience toward serving physical therapists through www.BuildPT.com, the marketing services arm of Vantage Clinical Solutions, which serves private practice clinicians with content marketing and web development solutions. He can be reached at ben@buildpt.com.