Feb 082018
Photographers Near Me

Back in 2011 I wrote a Guest Post for Quest PR What Makes a Good PR Photo.  That blog disappeared into the ether  and the post with it. I have resurrected article and re posted it here. While times have changed I see no reason to change the advice I gave then. What makes a good PR photo for print media still makes a good PR photo for digital media.  I would argue that good strong PR images are even more essential now as they often appear much smaller on screen and are easily lost amongst thousands upon thousands of mediocre photographs all vying for the viewers attention.

What Makes A Good PR Photo

As a professional news and PR photographer I could be quite self serving and say “a good PR photographer” but I’m sure that’s not the bit you came to read!

So what does make a good PR photograph

  • – apart from the obvious that it needs to be in focus and correctly exposed?

For me the secret of a really good PR photograph is the same as makes any good news picture.

  • It needs to tell the story.
  • It must bring together the most important elements of a story into a single image and grab the viewers’ attention to make them interested enough to want to know more
  • It should encourage them to read the caption and accompanying article.
    Most PR stories seem to include three main important ingredients.

The Story

What or Why is the Picture is Being Taken?

Is the story photogenic – and if not, can it be made photogenic?

A staff photographer on a local paper was asked to photograph an old lady whose birdhouse had been stolen from her garden. There had been no break-in no property damage or vandalism. Some light-fingered individual had nipped through the gate and stolen her free standing birdhouse.

“How do I photograph her with a birdhouse that isn’t there?” he asked in disbelief.

The trick is finding another approach. Adding a lock to her garden gate? Holding armfuls of wild bird food she can no longer give to the birds?

The moral of the story… a good PR image is not the most obvious shot. The best PR picture will grab the viewer, stop them in their tracks and make them think.

Taking people out of their normal environment can also be a good technique. I once convinced three gents who work at a bank head office to pretend to play rugby in their business suits.

The People

News pictures with the most impact are usually tightly cropped and don’t contain too many people.

The ability to work with people is a key skill for good photography. Encouraging them to do things they may not normally do just for the sake of a photo (back to those pesky bankers!), making someone laugh and relax when nervous in front of a camera, spotting when a pose looks uncomfortable or unnatural and being able to fix it are all necessary skills to create good PR images.

Group shots are best avoided if possible, they can be uninspiring but there are always occasions where the story is the group. This means something creative is needed. Finding an interesting vantage point to shoot from or unusual place to arrange people will help. If it’s a large group, don’t think that sticking them in front of a great background will work often the shot ends up having the background cropped out. The location in which the group is photographed should relate to the story.

The Brand

Photographically, branding can be a tricky little devil and from a PR perspective it’s the whole point of the story. From a publications viewpoint branding is advertising – and advertising is income – not news.

There are a few techniques worth keeping in mind for branding. When included it should be, if at all possible, in a way that makes it difficult or even impossible to crop out, but it shouldn’t be too forced or the image may not be used. You also need to be able to identify the times when including branding is not appropriate or ruins the picture. If the right people are in the photograph, branding can always be included in the caption.

Style should likewise be considered. A photograph that’s right for the local newspaper may not fit in trade press or in regional or national publications. This applies equally for websites. Not all websites are the same, and what works on a client’s Facebook page is not necessarily what will look right on their blog or their business homepage.

A truly good PR photograph will do a number of things.

Grab the readers’ attention and hold it.
Illustrate the story by capturing all the elements in a single frame.
Connect the brand to the story without being forced or too contrived.
Match the style of the publication it is aimed at.

Paul David Drabble is a professional news, public relations and editorial photographer with over 15 years experience.

For more information see www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk and check out his blog on
www.blog.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk You can find Paul on Facebook, LinkedIn and @PaulDDrabble on Twitter and Instagram @pauldaviddrabble

This post lead on to a second shorter post about PR Photography which can be found here

How to Create a Good PR Photo People Actually Want To Publish

Jul 272015

I used the Fuji X-Pro1 60mm f2.4 at couple of 1940’s events over the last couple of weekends, Kelham Island Sheffield and East Park Hull. Probably the most challenging of things to shoot were the Spitfire/Hurricane Flypast at the Hull Veterans weekend. I intended to use my Nikon D700 with 80-200mm but was caught out after being told the flypast would be Sunday.  It actually happened very late on Saturday. I only had time to flick to AFC and shoot  fortunately the camera was set as described in my last post resulting in the aircraft images included below. The exposures were f11 1/350 or better all at ISO 400.

Kelham Island & Hull Veterans 1940’s – Images by Paul Drabble

Jan 172012

Mam Tor Peak District www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk..15 January 2012 Image © Paul David Drabble (Paul David Drabble)

Mam Tor on the Western end of the Hope Valley in the Peak District is a 517 metres /1696 feet hill. Known as Mother Hill around  3000 years ago a group of Celtic People built a Bronze Age hill fort here and called it home.

Mam Tor is also known as the Shivering Mountain because of its instability.  A  land  slip that probably began in pre-historic times and is still active today has opened up the whole side of Mam Tor, revealing what’s inside. It’s a classic example of a  rotational landslip and during  heavy or prolonged rainfall water seeps between the layers of rock causing them to become slippery. This allows the different layers shale and sandstone of  to slide over one another resulting in further land slips. Experts believe this will only stop when face of the land slip reaches 30 degrees in probably another 1500 years.

Don’t expect to visit here and be able enjoy solitude especially at weekends not even on a cold January Winters day. It is such a popular spot that steps and a paved path have been added to protect Mam Tor from the thousands upon thousands of feet that tramp over it every day.

Photography Information

Nikon D700 Camera

Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens.

Shutter Speed 1/3200 sec

Aperture f4.5

ISO 640

Jan 092012

Selling something on eBay and need to photograph it? Here are a few very basic ebay photography tips to help improve your eBay photography and hopefully improve your chances of a sale.

 eBay Photography Tips 1 – Don’t post an incorrectly orientated photograph
A photograph is there to help sell your item. Rotate the photo once its on the computer so the item is correctly orientated. You may not care how the item you’re selling looks, potential buyers do.

 eBay Photography Tips 2 – Dont use a blurred photograph
How obvious is that? but I see it. eBay listings with blurred images. There can be a number of reasons for this Not enough light causing camera shake, too close to a small object in an attempt to fill the frame puts the object inside the minimum focus distance of the camera, thumb print on the lens, autofocus isnt focusing correctly. What ever the reason find out

eBay Photography Tips3 – Don’t use someone elses photograph
Even if you bought an item on eBay and are re selling it on eBay. Copyright in a photograph belongs the whoever shot it. Using their photo is an infringement of their copyright.

 eBay Photography Tips 4 – Find an Appropriate background.
Backgrounds are important. Items that don’t belong can look very out of place and distracting. You will not notice a cable or plug when you take the photograph but buyers will once its listed on eBay. Take the time to find somewhere to create temporary “mini studio”.  A plain table cloth or bed sheet will work as a background when photographing smaller items. If its a car or caravan you are selling drive tosomewhere there is room to work without getting in street lights, your garage door or next doors car.

hover mouse over slideshow images to read the captions

 eBay Photography Tips 5 – Fill The Frame
Potential buyers want to see what they are about to bid on, don’t take the photo from too far away so its surrounded by loads of space, but keep in mind if you are photographing something small it may go out of focus if you get too close. If that happens check to see if your camera has a “Macro” setting which allows it to focus on items close to the lens.

 eBay Photography Tips 6 – Take time to get the exposure correct
In a digital age where the image can be viewed immediately after being shot there is little or no excuse for badly exposed photographs on a listing. Take the picture check the camera if its too light or too dark re take the shot to correct for the problem.

 eBay Photography Tips 7 – Avoid Reflections
Mainly (but not exclusively) a problem when using flash, the cure is to find an angle to photograph the item from where the light source is not reflecting off it

 eBay Photography Tips 8 – Photograph Using natural light when possible
If you can find bright area with lots of diffused natural light then that’s probably where you want  your “mini studio”. Its easier to use natural light if there is enough of it simply because you can see the lighting your working with so you know the result you should be getting before pressing the shutter. With flash you only get to see the result after taking the picture

Aug 122011

Ever wondered what you can photograph with a Digital SLR and 50mm standard lens in the Dark?

Ever wondered how much use the built in flash is on a Digital SLR?


Take a look at this little fellow. We found him in the middle of the patio at 21:40 on summer night in South Yorkshire. Now he isn’t the type of creature you meet around here on a regular basis so I thought he was worth a photograph if only to document what he is. Caught on a wide open patio suddenly lit by a bright outside light with our dog and my partner staring at him from on high had me worried that the the little blighter would have legged it by the time I got back. No time for messing with flash guns and lens swaps I grabbed my digital SLR camera with 50mm f1.8 Nikon lens already fitted and got back outside at the double. He was still there so I grabbed a quick record shot from above looking directly down then decided to use the “get on the subjects level approach.

A small reptile found on the Patio and photographed on a DSLR with 50mm Standard lens and built in flash August 2011 Image © Paul David Drabble

Laying down I used Autofocus to focus on the head and edged forward until the lens reached the closest point of focus. The D700 was already set to 640 ISO and Aperture Priority so I popped up the built in flash checked the viewfinder info,1/60 at F4, and fired off a single frame. I expected the little guy scarper but he didn’t. Now worried the the flash and/or stress of the situation may cause him some permanent damage I decided two frames were enough and we left we left him alone in the dark to go about his business.

Shot original in Nikon Electronic Format(NEF)The first Image was interpolated and croped from this original framing August 2011 Images © Paul David Drabble

Photographers Technical Stuff

Camera Nikon D700 with 12.1 mega-pixel full frame CMOS Sensor

Lens Nikon F1.8 “Standard” Lens

Built in Flash

File Format NEF

ISO 640

Shutter 1/60th of a Second

Apperture F4.0

Aperture Priority

Single Autofocus

The resulting image was still a very small reptile in the centre of a rather large frame so I decided a little cropping and post production interpolation was need. The NEF file was opened on the PC and at this stage I made adjustments to highlights/shadows added a little sharpening and interpolated the image from The D700 best quality of 12.1 Mega-Pixel (4256 X 2832 pixels) to a 25.1 Mega-pixel ( 6144 X 4088 pixels).

Once open the image was cropped, without constrained proportions, resulting in an photograph of approximately 3 X 2 inches at 300 ppi. Wanting a larger end result I interpolated that up in size again. Using Bicubic Smoother setting I made the longest edge 10 inches. That left the final tightly cropped image as a 10 x 6.5 inches 300ppi photograph or 3000 X 1959 pixels.

I may have just over done the size increase but the image was never going to be a “National Geographic” pin sharp, full page, quality picture anyway. Considering the situation and equipment, a 50mm standard lens lit by the pop up camera flash in the dark I don t think is too bad.

If anyone can Identify just what this little guy is I would love to know.

Can any one tell me exactly what he is? please feel free to comment below August 2011 Images © Paul David Drabble

Please comment below



Jul 182011

They say Britain is a nation of dog lovers, they also say never work with children or animals. Have you ever tried photographing your pet pooch only to be disappointed by the results. Here (in no particular order) are a handful of photography tips to help you achieve better results when you’re photographing mans best friend.

  1. First rule of all portrait photography is focus on the eyes. Most dogs have long snouts, so if you focus on the nose the eyes can be out of focus.
  2. Most humans are tall compared to a dog, so get down and shoot from their eye level see the world as they do.
  3. Have a hyperactive dog who just cant stay still? Use a fast shutter speed to freeze the movement when they are running and jumping.
  4. For the older or more sedate natured dog, try a wider aperture setting. This will help reduce distractions by throwing the background out of focus. Don’t forget “most dogs have long snouts”  if the aperture setting is too wide  your best friend could end up with a burred nose.
  5. Some dogs are natural posers, you can get good shots just by getting them to sit while holding their attention with a treat or toy. For most distraction is the key give them something to do or play with  that you know they love then you work around them.
  6. Don’t always work alone and do a little planning. Get another member of the family to hold your hound while you move some distance away. On a preprepared signal get your helper to let your pet pooch go and you grab some great action shots as the dog comes charging towards you. If your auto focus is slow or you dont have follow focus try pre focusing the camera on a fixed spot you the dog will run through and fire the shutter as they cross the focus point.
  7. Sticking with the theme of helpers why photograph your dog in isolation? Get someone you love and who the dog is relaxed with to interact and capture that on camera.
  8. Make it fun! Photography may be fun for you but most dogs are not the type who will happily perform on command for the camera. Make things fun for your pet and it will show up in your photographs through the dogs body language.
  9. Watch,  not the one on your wrist! Watch with your eyes. Your dog is genetically 80% wolf, so while walking with your dog and camera take time to watch and learn its instinctive behaviour and try to capture a more subtle side of  your pets character in your photography.
  10. Know your dog. Good photography can often come from to knowing your subject and being able to predict what’s going to happen.
  11. Sometimes all you need to make a photograph really work for you is a caption!

Right at the start I mentioned they say “never work with children or animals” well here is another tip – many of those tips work with kids too.

Have your own top tips for dog photography?

Feel free to add them below.

Want to give your dog an outdoor portrait session give me call

Apr 162011

Some of you may have noticed that I have an interest in most all things military, I also have an interest in the 1940’s, more specifically the second world war. This has led me to invest in a “new” camera, well new to me. Its actually a 38 year old Kiev range finder, a postwar Russian copy of the famed German Contax range finders which were introduced around 1933 and were once the main competitor for Leica.

I intended to buy one of these Russian Contax or Leica clones as a display piece but attempts to find a good looking non working display camera for under a fiver soon evolved into a little bit of a quest to find a reasonable working camera and preferably a Keiv. I wasn’t actually worried about the age of the camera but I did want it to work on 1940’s technology. Then thanks to eBay a Kiev 4, a Contax IIIa copy, arrived along with a very odd desire to put a roll of film through it.

I think I actually imagined I was going to stick a roll of film in this 1940s vintage piece of technology and instantly be able to use it just like my Nikon equipment. However to give you an idea of the differences between this camera and any modern digital SLR or compact I thought about writing a short list of what you don’t get with a Kiev but forget the list. If your camera has the word “auto, automatic, program, mode or electronic before one of its features take it as read the Kiev doesn’t have it. It does have a built in light meter but its not very reliable and you have to read it, work out the exposure settings then manually enter those settings on the camera. Its design requires the camera to be held in a specific way, known as the Contax hold, so the fingers of your right hand don’t block the range finder window and make focusing impossible.

To swap from my Nikon D700 to the all mechanical and manual Keiv for a couple of days was to say the least a culture shock. I am used to knowing my Nikons so well that I pick them up and work them, almost without thought, leaving me free to concentrate on creating images. With the Keiv I was forced into a much slower pre planned, less instant, pace of photography. Not just less instant in the sense you don’t get to see the result straight away but you suddenly realise you have to move the camera away from your eye to set the shutter speed and aperture then again to wind the film on. You are forced to think much more about the image you are about to shoot or want to shoot and makes the grab shot so much more valuable. It has also left me wondering how famed war photographer and Magnum founder member Robert Capa managed the images he did from a pair of Contax II cameras. Despite the totally different way of working forced on me when using the Kiev I think I may just be looking for a Zorki or Fed Leica copy now to sit alongside my Keiv or maybe Ill look for a Kiev clone of Capa’s Contax II.

Mar 182011

How To Create A Good PR Photo people actually want to publish?

Recently I wrote a guest post “What Makes A Good PR Photo” for Leeds based Quest PR’s blog. Bloggers will tell you that posts work best at around 300 to 500 words and it was while trying to work within these constraints I realised what I do, what all good PR photographers do, is far too complex to impart as a “How To” in 500 words or less. I was barely scratching the surface of “What Makes A Good PR Photo” let alone how to produce one and that led to this post.

How does a professional PR Photographer Create A Good PR Photo people actually want to publish? He or she considers all the things below and more, though not necessarily in list order.

Is the image sharp?

Where should I focus for best effect?

Shall I use a wide aperture or narrow aperture?

Fast or slow shutter speed?

Natural light or Full flash, Fill-in flash?

Will anything fool the camera meter?

Do I choose Wide Angle Standard or Telephoto lens?

Which camera will be best for the job?

Is it best Mounted on a tripod, monopod or hand-held?

Use camera mounted flash or portable studio flash?

What elements best tell the story?

Which do I include, what gets left out?

Is the background relevant?

Can it be made relevant or is it just distracting?

What’s the best way to set this up for maximum visual impact?

Do I put movement into to an image?

If I do should movement be frozen or allowed to streak ?

Shall I isolate the subject with a blurred background?

Use front to back picture sharpness?

How many people do I use and why?

What’s the message my client is trying to get across?

How do I get the branding in?

Does it look natural or forced or just ruin the picture entirely?

What style do I need to shoot in?

Where will the images appear?

Have I shot Upright and landscape shape?

Beyond considering all of the above the professional PR photographer needs people skills in bucketfuls. Some people are lucky they just enjoy being photographed and/or are simply photogenic. Many are not, good results are required even when the subject hates being in front of a camera. Photographers need to work with people from all spheres of society all ages all outlooks all political persuasions and a good photographer can deal with just about anyone. Sometimes the image will require getting people to do things they wouldn’t normally dream of doing. Other occasions it will require the photographer do something they wouldn’t normally dream of doing.

In short How To Create A Good PR Photo…..

Understand your equipment, use it to best technical effect, understand the brief, interpret it creatively, work well with people and get the best from them in what can sometimes be quite difficult situations.

Feb 242011

15 degrees C and sunny… Its beginning to look a bit like springtime in Ecclesfield



50mm f1.8 lens

400 ISO 1/800 at F8

Oct 252010

Everyone misses a picture, even the pros don’t get every shot every time but sometimes, just sometimes there is something you can do to salvage an image you really wanted but just didn’t quite get.

The photograph below is my cousin with his niece at a family party. I spotted the opportunity grabbed the camera and the shot unfortunately having consumed the odd  (double)  Bacardi and Coke or two I missed one small but very important detail, the on button for the flash. Three frames later, the moment has passed and the best of the three images is the one below, rather orangey red, dark and slightly too soft.

Carl & Pauline 30th anniversary.23 October 2010 .Images © Paul David Drabble

For the technically minded it was shot on a Nikon D700 and 50mm f1.8 lens. The settings were manually set to:  1000 ISO,  f4.5,  1/60th sec.

On the night I wrote off the shot  as a duff one but I didn’t delete it, I never do, I think its because, back in the days of film, I was taught never throw away a negative.  The next morning , well OK  lunchtime, it was a great party and we did have one or two more of those Bacardi and Cokes, I spotted the shot again and considered it worthy of five minutes  TLC.  My first instinct was to lighten it and try and take some of the redness out. While I was pleasantly pleased with the results of lightening the photograph it quickly became apparent that recovery wasn’t going to be totally successful thanks to masses of colour noise while trying to get the colour balance right, at which point I decided to get all retro and just turn the thing Black and White. A little more fiddling this time with contrast  and unsharp mask to loose some of the softness in the photograph and finally a little cropping to tighten the picture up and hey presto the result……..

Carl & Pauline 30th anniversary.23 October 2010 .Images © Paul David Drabble

You cant make a silk purse out of sows ear, as they say, and the same goes when trying to  recover a photograph  like this one. Sometimes a mistake will leave you with an image that really is not salvageable, no matter how skilled you are or how much time and effort you put into it, so be realistic.  This photograph will never be a technically perfect image it will always be a little soft and a little noisy  but  it does leave me with a  satisfied smile, especially after reading mums comments about her daughters photo in my Facebook  photo album.