Put yourself in the picture

put yourself in the picture

We’ve already talked about a couple of ways to illustrate your ads. For example, you can find pictures for your ads with Google Image Search and then download or print them. By surrounding yourself with these images you can regularly remind yourself about all sorts of things you’d like to have in your life. I think the way to take personal persuasion to the next level is to put yourself in the picture.

Visualizing yourself achieving a goal has traditionally meant seeing it in your mind. But technology like digital cameras and photo editing software gives us the ability to actually see a picture of ourselves doing something that we have not done yet in real life. With a little imaginative costuming, props and scenery you can take a photo that looks like the reality you want to create already exists. As I said in Use ads to focus on the outcome you want:

When you’re designing your ads, try to create a tiny place where the reality you want to achieve is already true. For example, use your digital camera to photograph yourself standing near the car, job, or house you want. Or use Photoshop to insert yourself into a picture of an exotic destination or domestic paradise. The beauty of technology is that you can create a visual representation of a situation that don’t yet exist outside of your mind.

Why pictures work so well

Advertisers spend billions of dollars to inundate us with images because they work. Seeing a picture of yourself actually doing something works better than a written item on a to-do list for several reasons:

  • We’re hard-wired to respond to visual information, especially images of human faces. Our survival as a species depended on our ability to process what we saw in our environment long before than we invented handwriting.
  • We tend to believe it’s possible to do something if we see someone similar to us doing it. So if the model in an ad is exactly like me its message should be extremely effective. See The psychology of persuasion – social proof.
  • People are more easily persuaded by salespeople, politicians or models who seem to have a lot in common with them. Again, who has more in common with me than me? See The psychology of persuasion – liking.
  • Every time you see the picture it’s a rehersal for real life. Your brain starts to get used to the idea of you in that situation, and will more easily recognize opportunities to make it come true.

The photo shoot

Do your best to create a set that really looks like the outcome you’d like to achieve. Go to the actual place, or use props to create a setting as similar as possible. Also wear the clothes you’ll be wearing when your goal comes true. (Don’t have them yet? Well, there’s a step you could take!)

For example, let’s say you want to make an ad encouraging yourself to work out more. You could dress up in your workout clothes, go to the gym, and have someone take a picture of yourself while you’re there.

It’s important to try to convey the attitude you’ll have in the new situation with in your body language and facial expression. You should look like this reality already exists, you’re comfortable with it, and you’re liking it!

Taking these pictures can be a lot of fun. I recently had a great time photographing a friend at a place she wants to work. She dressed up in going-to-work clothes and we took a lot of photos of her driving to work, parking in the employee parking lot, walking into the building, etc.

In another campaign, I took pictures of myself riding my bicycle. I dressed up in all of my gear and had a friend take pictures of me. Within two weeks I was riding to work every day!


This is an astonishingly powerful technique. If you can visualize yourself doing something, you are more likely to accomplish it. One of the most effective things you can do to visualize the future you want is to literally put yourself in the picture!

Other articles in the Put yourself in the picture series

  1. Put yourself in the picture (you are here)
  2. Get a gorilla to hold the camera
  3. Put yourself in the picture to get a job
  4. A great digital camera
  5. Put yourself in the picture with Photoshop
  6. Put yourself in the picture with glue

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