Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Picture this - images for PR

Compelling images are an important element of a news story, but despite everyone having a digital camera, ownership of a camera  doesn't empower everyone to be a photographer.

Going back some years, most b-2-b PR agencies would commission a professional photographer to come up with an interesting and creative image to accompany the text and often elevate an otherwise uninspiring product into an object of interest or intrigue. And photographers often specialised. Those specialising in images of buildings for architects might not achieve the best, or most flattering  portraits of the managing director. When we commissioned a photographer to photograph a new building in the City of London he paid a crane operator to let him ride up in the crane's bucket to capture a great image from an elevation nobody else would ever see. The resulting image was widely used, but nobody ever asked how it had been taken.

In the b-2-b world, the expense of professional photography has been dropped from budgets and instead images, typically supplied as  jpg files are user/client generated. While not expecting creative work, it would be nice to receive something which was, well lets say OK. Here are 10 common problems with images we receive from clients:-

1. Out of focus, blurred, fuzzy and indistinct - these are useless, so trash can for them.
2. Bad lighting - subject in shadow, silhouette or over exposed.
3. Poor composition  - boring stuff, load of clutter, product lost amongst irrelevant junk.
4. Rubbish in shot - typically in installation photos; scrap materials or builders drinks cans  right in the middle of the shot.
5. Empty scene - buildings or exhibition stands curiously devoid of people.
6. Colour  tinges- strong colour from light reflected from a wall, drapes, background paper,  lighting results in apparently changing the colour of the product.
7. Low res files.
8. Finger over lens.
9. Image lacks any interest, is uninspiring - in short it's boring.
10. The product is not the star of the shot.

So what do we need?
1. Interesting, relevant and engaging images.
2. Technically good quality - in focus, hi-res and reasonably lit would be nice.
3. Good composition - at least to show the product to good effect.

One final thought. Are the people who take the images ever given any brief other than can you take some photos for us? Why not tell them what you need? If you have equipped a building  interior how about some shots of the exterior to set the scene, or people using the place rather than an empty room. Would close up products shots help tell the story? What about pictures of the client for testimonials?
Hopefully with some brief the outcome will be more usable.

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