Are Your Photographs letting your businesses down? In the modern world of instant communication the still image is still important. Still images are consumed at a rapid rate. Look how many photographs appear across the internet, not to mention in newspapers, magazines and on billboards, that’s before even considering all those pictures you don’t see. Photographs that are never published on social media and sit on computer hard drives and mobile devices, like prints used to sit in photograph albums, envelopes, draws and wallets.
Still images are still important.
If they weren’t people would not choose to take them, or store them, or post them online, and mobile phone manufacturers would likely drop the function from their devices. Almost everyone owns and carries a phone and therefore a camera every day and that simple fact makes many camera owners mistake themselves for photographers
Photographs are supposed to help.
The craft of constructing an image that is relevant, striking, tells the story and draws the reader into reading the text is too often missing from too many businesses photographs. Photographs are supposed to help businesses grab and hold the attention of their target audience and ensure the message is read and retained.
What can a professional photographer do for you.
Almost everyone is so used to taking and posting their own photographs they too often forget that there is a genuine value in hiring a professional photographer. A professional photographer can and will use experience and people skills to combine the essential visual elements in a variety of relevant compositions. Use a range of professional level photographic equipment to produce a number of images that effectively and coherently illustrate and re-enforce your story. Ensure the style of those photographs will work within the publication or publications you are aiming for be that local newspapers, your website, social media streams, trade or in house publications.
Irrelevant images can have a negative affect.
Researchers W. Howard Levie and Richard Lentz study the results of 55 studies to see if visuals associated with text helped get the message across and found that
“visuals that supported the text were beneficial in 98% of all of the studies”
They also found
“illustrations that are not relevant to the content in the text can have a negative effect”
That means that using that camera phone photo of “football team” style line up of disinterested looking VIPs or two grinning faces holding hands in wooden handshake may actually be adversely affecting your business.
This image was shot in 2010 for The Co-operative Funeralcare who sponsor the World Bowls Tour. It was taken a few nights before the Final during a Pro-Am bowls night. I was rather pleased with the image because using only available light, so as not to distract the players, I have incorporated a good example of my clients branding and the actual world Bowls Tour Trophy on the back wall yet maintained a balanced composition.
Good knowledge and use of photography techniques allowed me to select a shutter speed that lets the players hand and Bowl to blur helping to convey movement yet maintain sharp focus on his face. I have used an aperture that gives enough Depth of Field that the clients branding is still clearly visible.
While many of today’s modern cameras can produce an equally well exposed images shot under a wide variety of lighting conditions I believe you still need someone behind the camera who knows what the manual settings do, and can override the cameras automation to deliver the best result for my clients needs.
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.
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.
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.
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
Merry Christmas 2017 & Happy New Year. If you need a PR or news Photographer please do call 07831 853913
If you are looking for an image to borrow for your Personal Christmas card this year, or as a background screen to personalise your laptop please feel free to borrow this one. Just click Here and when asked for a password to download the image simply Enter “Merry Christmas 2017”
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Barnsleys Remembrance Sunday Service and March past held at the town’s war memorial situated outside the Town hall on Church street.
Brian Deane went down in footballing history 25 years ago. On August 15, 1992 he scored the first goal in the FA Premier League. A header for Sheffield United against Manchester United guaranteed his place in history, it was the New FA Premier League’s first goal. Twenty five years on Brian returns to the exact spot where he made footballing history for Sheffield United and the blades home ground of Bramall Lane talks to the worlds media.
South Yorkshire Police Officers guard the perimeter of 1 Dunn St Daisy Spring Works after an armed police raid on Thursday evening (June 1 2017) which resulted in the arrest of one man in Sheffield. The raid in the Kelham Island area of Sheffield was part of a coordinated operation at addresses in Sheffield and Huddersfield. A statement from the North East Counter Terrorism Unit said the raids were not linked to the recent terror attack in Manchester and officers were were acting upon recently received intelligence.
Remembrance Sunday service, two minutes silence and parade held at Barnsley War Memorial outside the Town Hall – In Pictures
A Fantastic PR photography opportunity came my way last week. I was asked to photograph the press call at Chatsworth House to launch Christmas at Chatsworth. The Sugar Plum Fairy, Clara and The Nutcracker ballet dancers striking poses in the beautifully decorated rooms Chatsworth house dressed for The Nutcracker for the Christmas season, opening to the public on Saturday 5 November.
Attracting more than 100,000 visitors during the festive season, Christmas at Chatsworth is one of the must do events for families. With the house transformed into The Nutcracker, Christmas 2016 is set to be more magical than ever. The fairytale magic of the most famous of ballets will sweep everyone along into an enchanting winter wonderland at Chatsworth this festive season.
Christmas at Chatsworth
The Nutcracker sees the house transformed to present the festive tale complete with lavish costumes, beautiful decorations, wonderful stage sets and a few fantastic surprises in store sure to captivate all who visit.
Christmas at Chatsworth will transport everyone to a fairytale world populated by Nutcracker soldiers; elegant ballerinas and dancing snowflakes. All the cast will be on view – from the Mouse King and the Sugar Plum Fairy to the Nutcracker and Clara – to depict the story in a series of stunning tableau scenes throughout the house.
In the tale, a box of performing toys charms the children and adults alike, but it is the Nutcracker doll that enchants Clara the most. As the curtain rises on Christmas Eve, visitors will be able to share in Clara’s adventures as she is swept away by the Nutcracker Prince to a wonderful place where the magic really begins.
Along the way, the beautifully dressed rooms tell the story of The Nutcracker with all the classic scenes from Clara’s dream; from the waltz of the snowflakes to the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Scarborough Grand Hotel
A Grade II listed building dominating the the town’s South Bay. When completed in 1867 Scarborough Grand Hotel was one of the largest hotels in the world, as well as one of the first giant purpose-built hotels in Europe. The hotel is in the shape of a ‘V’ in honour of Queen Victoria and was designed around the theme of time:
4 towers for the seasons,
12 floors for the months of the year,
52 chimneys to symbolise the weeks,
Originally there were 365 bedrooms – one for each day of the year.
As Scarborough was a famous ‘Spa Town’ in its heyday the Grand hotels baths included an extra pair of taps so guests could wash in seawater as well as fresh water. During the first world war the hotel was badly damaged by the German Navy when they bombarded the town in 1914.
Three blue plaques outside mark where the novelist Anne Brontë died in 1849, the contribution of the RAF trainees stationed at the hotel during the Second World War, and the original opening of the building.
11 July 2016