Capturing the perfect pic

Recently I’ve looked at how to craft a strong press release to achieve media coverage and how to use Pinterest to engage with the communities important to your business. Striking photography is integral to the success of both these tools – and there is an art to that too. Far too often, organisations opt to take their own photography thinking they can save costs but this is always a false economy. Weak imagery can devalue a brand and is highly unlikely to be used by media except as an example as bad practice (and believe me, I’ve seen that happen). The key is most definitely in the planning and finding a skilled ‘toggie’ who will bring your business to life in an appealing and creative way.

Thankfully, by following a few rules, securing a varied library of stock photography that you can draw on in the knowledge it paints your brand in a picture perfect light, doesn’t have to be difficult at all.

Top tips to get you going:

-       Consider what type of images you’re most likely to need and make a list. This might include head and shoulder shots of spokespeople, external building shots, interiors, people at work, product images etc. You can save a lot of money by planning in advance and booking a half or full day’s shoot rather than getting a photographer out every time you need something different.

-       Create photo’s that bring your business to life and have a bit of energy to them. If the picture being taken is to support a press release, make sure it tells the story and features the people quoted or there is no compelling reason for the image to be used. For example, annual results can be made much more interesting with a picture of the product or service driving profits for the company.

-       Think about the composition and any props you might need. Try to avoid clichés – a row of men in suits is a definite no, as is a handshake shot or cheque handover. Branding is preferable but in a subtle, not overtly commercial way. Never forget that if the picture is taken in a recognizable location, it may not be suitable for other titles – the Sunderland Echo won’t use a shot of people on the Millennium Bridge, as you’d expect.

-       Remember the best photo’s are usually ‘tight’ shots in that they fill the frame and contain no more than 3-4 people. Any more and it all starts to look at bit messy. Less is most definitely more.

-       Ensure you have a selection of landscape and portrait shots because each media title has a different need. Portrait shots have traditionally been more popular but websites and blogs often require landscape imagery to fit their settings.

-       When issuing photographs, make sure they are 300 dpi and around 1mb in size. Anything more and you’ll clog up editors’ inboxes which will result in an immediate delete. Also make sure you send a caption so the recipient knows who the subjects of the photo are.

Once you know what you want, spend time researching local photographers. Each one will have different strengths and you can see what type of service they provide from their websites. Most will happily have a chat to understand your needs and you’ll soon know whether the synergy is right.

When organizing your photoshoot, make sure the cost is agreed up front and the brief is absolutely clear. Most photographers charge by the hour but bear in mind you should check whether the fee is all-inclusive or ancillaries like travel, editing, CDs of images etc are extra. Best practice is to confirm in writing all the details, including who, what, where and when and letting your contact know what the image will be used is critical – there’s a big difference between press shots, sales imagery and pictures for the internal employee board! Each requires a different approach.