After years of experience of working in the PR industry and working closely with journalists from across the East Midlands region, I think it’s fair to say we know a thing or two about what they look for in an image.
Now we aren’t going to tell you that we know everything about photography, but what we do know is how to use your photography to increase the chances of getting that all important coverage in the press.
Having sat down with many a journalist over a jovial lunch or sporting occasion, we’ve come to understand what they want and what they completely dismiss when it comes to choosing the right article to run with. In the majority of cases, when it comes to the nitty gritty of choosing between two articles, the quality of photograph provided is more often than not the deciding factor. (They also hate “photo available on request” – if you have a photo send it with the release!)
So what do journalist’s look for?……..
Top Tip #1 – Set up an appealing scene. The number one pet hate for journalists when it comes to photography is the dreaded hand shake. How often have you seen the same boring photograph of two people shaking hands? Think of natural poses and the potential use of props to significantly increase the chances of getting the coverage you want.
Top Tip #2 – Avoid the use of sunglasses or badges. For one it looks unprofessional to wear sunglasses in a photo. Name badges more often than not cannot be read and look untidy on clothing, so there’s no need for unnecessary distractions. The same can be said for items such as poppies or daffodils being worn on clothing, whilst they may seem appropriate to wear at the time, they date the picture, so a reader will know exactly when the photograph was taken.
Top Tip #3 – Shadows. Be wary of shadows cast by lighting and also be mindful of having people standing too close to a background wall.
Top Tip #4 – Avoid the line up. Try and avoid using anymore than four people, but if that’s not an option then be sure to stagger the line up with smaller people in the foreground and taller people in the background. It sounds common sense, but you’d be surprised how many forget.
Top Tip #5 – People Positioning. Again it sounds common sense but if you have a client or VIP you want to mention in your article, please ask them to stand on the right of the line up as they look at the camera, so that when the picture is captioned L-R their name is mentioned first.
Top Tip #6 – Clothing. Please ask the subjects in the photo to avoid stripey clothing as this can cause distorted photos due to patterns. Stripey shirts are renowned for causing issues with photos as they cause an aliasing effect often referred to as the “Moiré Effect”
Top Tip #7 – What’s in the background? Check carefully what is in the foreground and background of the photo. Items such as waste bins, plants, cars, bushes or people make the shot look very unprofessional and is unlikely to be used by a journalist. Cropping images to capture the focal point of the photo should always be considered if necessary.
Top Tip #8 – Image size should always be considered when sending a photo to the press. If the image you are sending is for the web/online purposes then 500kb is the maximum file size you should be using. For print news purposes try to keep the file under 2-3mb. Sticking to these parameters will increase the chances of the image being used.
Top Tip #9 – Image orientation. Always check whether the outlets you are sending your press release and photo to generally use portrait or landscape images. Journalists do not want to be messing around cropping images. Generally landscape orientation is the preferred choice, but if you are unsure try to send both options.
A photograph will always speak a thousand words, so ensure you take these top tips into account. The combination of good photography and well structured content is the key to making sure your press release is a cut above the rest.
Our article on how to write a press release should also help.