Authentically inauthentic

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Destination imagery: what’s real and what’s really not?

We were doing a large strategy meeting with a client, and as we’re going around the table talking about creating rich, real, interesting content, everyone kept avoiding the “a” word. Authentic is the latest buzzword to wear out its welcome in marketing circles. While the word itself may be overused, the concept behind it will help you present your destination in a way that it connects with potential visitors. 

Afterward, I was thinking what a change the “Blair Witch Project” made on the film and TV industry. It launched reality TV followed by “scripted reality” (the ugly stepsister who wanted a little more control). In this YouTube era, younger audiences are now demanding a non-photoshopped world. How can destinations deliver on that but still have some control over their brand?

1. If you’re doing a photoshoot, use members from your own community.

If your shoot is specifically LGBTQ focused, use LGBTQ people (pretty simple, eh?). Pose is being applauded not only because of the content, but also for its use of people from the trans community on screen and behind the scenes. Is it a glamorized version of that time? Yes. Which brings me to my next point.

2. A little art direction goes a long way.

Pre-planning your shoots or videos will go a long way in making sure you attain the quality you desire. You don’t have to degrade your quality to get a more authentic (I said it, so what) look and feel. Find a director or videographer that will capture your destination’s identity. 

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3. Embrace the imperfect.

Put away your Facetune, perfect is what the younger generation is trying to get away from. Does this mean have your models arrive with no makeup and hair a mess? No, but be ok with imperfections, wrinkles and small mistakes that can actually build character into your project.

4. Let it happen naturally.

The main point here is not to stress too much have fun with it. Oh, and please don’t have your models point at everything. That’s not natural.

Seems pretty straight-forward, buy you’d be surprised how many companies and destinations are missing the mark on this. So, whether you call it “authentic”, “natural”, or “unfiltered”, it’s still an important focus. If this seems daunting and you’d like to discuss, we’d be happy to.

Dustin Woehrmann
Written by Dustin Woehrmann
I landed in New Orleans and love this city full of culture and creativity. Love coffee. Love being creatively challenged. Have grown to like brussel sprouts.

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