So our girl has changed a little. I ended up replacing everything but her face, arms, book and hammock with redrawn versions based on another image from the same series of stock photos.
It might not look too different from the previous version, but I think this slight change in angle makes all the difference. The problem before was that although the original photo from which I drew reference was a perfectly nice shot, it was one of those angles that slightly dissolved into a nonsense when reduced down to simple shapes and colours. Between the slightly contorted positions of the feet, the foreshortening and the obscuring netting of the hammock, the girl's legs looked confusing and jumbled and the hammock wasn't really reading as what it was. The new position makes things much clearer t a glance, and that's really important for the posters I produce.
I mean, it's a common requirement across all posters, of course - they are just about by definition there to be eye-catching and communicate succinctly. But certainly the aim of what I produce is to be clear and positive in the time it takes a passer-by to glance at a window.
We don't really go for the hard sell at Waterstones. I produce a separate suite in each seasonal campaign to head the permanent 'buy one get one half price' offer but with the 'generic' posters I'm not asked to promote a particular offer or highlight certain titles, or even mention Waterstones as a brand (we stopped even putting out name on them a couple of year ago, figuring these posters were only ever used inside Waterstones branches so people probably didn't need the reminder).
Sometimes I'm given a particular prompt or angle ('we'd like penguins for Christmas' or 'can you stop putting umbrellas on everything') but generally myself and the rest of the Studio team are trusted to devise our own seasonal brief and solution to it. That's on the understanding that really, the brief never changes. It's, 'hey you know what's nice this time of year? Books.'
It doesn't get much simpler in approach to expressing that than images of people enjoying reading (with the seasonal touch of them doing so outside). It's a more direct approach than I normally go for, which is refreshing in several ways. It's been rather nice not to try to be clever about it, and having such a simple aim has allowed me to really focus on the details of getting the images right.
I'm rather into not trying to be clever at the moment. As an inveterate over-thinker I think there's a real value in being, well, obvious. Apart from anything else, what feels trite ad overdone to me doesn't seem that way to customers, simply because they don't spend their professional lives engaging with these themes. I think about the things that have really hit it off with book-lovers and it's always a very simple message of how damn nice reading is that always speaks to people.
So here's to being obvious.