Making press photography work for you

Back in the day, producing photography for websites, press stories and promotional material was limited to those who spent hundreds of pounds on specialist equipment and completed expensive training. Today, things have changed. With the evolution of new technology anyone and everyone could become the next David Bailey, by simply switching on their smartphone and getting snappy.

So can this enthusiasm for photography be replicated in a corporate communications environment? Social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, completely dedicated to the power of visual images, have only helped to spread the popularity of the medium. You are increasingly likely to see images taken by the public on smartphones or simple digital cameras featured in newspapers or on the TV.

Including an image with a press release can help bring a story to life and will often result in a larger spread than text alone. However, getting a good quality image to accompany each story is not always that easy. Anyone who works in PR will know the following scenario all too well:

• Agency – Do you have a picture to accompany this press release?
• Client – Yes, see attached
• Agency – Thanks for the image but unfortunately at 7KB it’s a little small, do you have any higher resolution shots?
• Client – Try it now
• Agency – This image is now out of focus, do you have any others?
• Client – See another one attached
• Agency – As you are unable to see the faces of any of the people in this image I’m not sure it’s usable
• Client – Sorry these are all we have, can you work your magic…

ARGH! This is something we hear a lot and the short answer sadly is no, sometimes a bit of ‘creative cropping’ (as we refer to it) can help but we must face facts; there is no such thing as ‘magic’ and however good it is, Microsoft Paint will not allow us to perform ‘exorcist style’ head swivelling on images of people with their backs to the camera.

The back of the head is not a good look

When there is no other option, especially when the release is time sensitive, often us poor PROs will crack and send a press release out with no image or with a much overused generic image which is unlikely to be used again.

We would always recommend getting a professional photographer when you can, such as at events where a non-professional may miss that all important shot or for large group shots where a photographer is needed to manage the crowds. However with communications budgets being increasingly squeezed, paying for professional support is not always an option and if necessary can be reserved for special occasions.

Also a decision needs to be made about what the images are going to be used for. If you are a paying for high quality print publications or corporate websites, you do not want these to be littered with poor quality images so a professional photographer is worth his weight in gold. Remember, it is important to get the best quality images you can within the budget you have available.

Out of focus and of no use

Where budgets won’t stretch, the alternative is to have a go yourself. For a relatively small investment you can get a decent camera (we have even had success with some of the better smartphones’ camera functions) and start snapping your own images. With practice and by knowing the kind of image you are looking for before you start it is possible to take a good quality photograph without splashing out for a professional.

Make sure that the images you take are relevant and illustrate your story; having a head and shoulders shot of your chief executive will not necessarily work for all your releases. Why not try different angles or action shots to make your photography more exciting. Also try to avoid clichés – this includes big cheques, handshakes, a council official breaking ground with a spade and balloons; we’ve seen it a hundred times!

Once you have that killer image, it is time to send it out. Here are my five top tips for getting your photos used with your press releases:

• Tailor your image size for your target publication – around 1MB for print publications, smaller is fine for websites
• Send your image as a JPEG document attached to your email so it’s easy to open and save
• Include a full caption with your image so the journalist does not have to chase you for this
• Include the name of the client in your image caption so the journalist can find it easily and remember which story it accompanies
• Edit the image yourself – if it needs brightening or cropping you can save a journalist time by doing this before you send it.

Good luck and happy snapping!

Don't forget to check the background

Please note, the images in this blog have been posed by the Acceleris team and do not represent the work of our dear clients!

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