Photos can mislead

I never cease to be amazed at the power of photography.  A powerful photo goes beyond the old cliché about a thousand words.  Images speak in a way that words simply can’t.  And when we want to add power to our messages and presentations, there are few things more powerful than a strong photo.  In fact, photos can be so emotionally powerful that they can be misleading, whether we intend them to be or not.

Knee deep in leisure

For example, take the venture capital fund that I invested in several years ago.  If you visit this investment company’s website, the first image you’ll encounter is a family of four walking into a sunset on an ocean beach.  The second is an older couple on a similar beach with waves rolling in behind them.  Then there’s another older couple with their two dogs in an idyllic autumn setting . . . and the middle-aged couple cycling through rolling hills . . . you get the picture.  They’re all knee-deep in pleasant leisure-time activities.  They don’t have a worry in the world.

That has the potential to hurt

I invested the minimum $5,000 in this company with the understanding that my investment would be locked in for eight years and, more than eight years later, I now have $1,136.  That’s a 77.28% loss from my original $5,000 investment!  Okay, so I know that investing in venture capital funds is risky.  If the investment goes up, you make money and if it goes down, you lose.  I’m a big boy and I can handle that.  What bothers me is that this website’s images say the exact opposite.  They imply that if you invest enough now, someday you’ll be on easy street.  And that has the potential to hurt innocent people who think their investment will inevitably have a happy ending.

There’s something sinister here

You know, there’s something sinister about the way pictures can mislead without making promises.  They can create illusions without having to actually deliver in a way that words never could.  Mutual fund companies – and all advertisers – capitalize on that.

Images can fool

I believe in telling the truth, with both words and images.  But obviously, not everyone is so scrupulous.  I can understand the temptation.  After all, the right images are so powerful that they can fool people into thinking they can live the high life on losses of 77.28%.

Am I whining?

Am I whining because I lost money? Am I being too hard on the venture capital investment companies?  You tell me.

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About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

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