Guide to Taking Photos for Newspapers and Social Media
CAT is indebted to Pamela Judge for her great generosity in preparing the following guide in order to help in the preparation of pictures for publicity.
A good photograph to illustrate an article may be what decides whether it is published or not. It may also be what draws the reader’s eye to your story and gets them to your exhibition or other event.
What to photograph – pre-event publicity
- The artist or maker needs to be in the picture themselves (close up) as well as their artwork. Newspapers won’t like a photo of artwork alone.
- Try to avoid your subjects standing woodenly next to their painting; they could squat in front of it, or hold it in their arms, or sit on a stool in front of it, or use brushes to look as if they’re still painting. But they must always look at the camera! They shouldn’t be wearing sunglasses.
- Craft items are easier to photograph as, for example, the maker can be working on a ceramic, putting the finishing touches to stained glass, or holding a sculpture in their hand. But still looking at the camera!
- If several artists are featured in an exhibition, don’t try to include all of them in the photo; it will look too crowded and their work will be too small. You will need to decide on one artist to feature (or two at the most).
- You will normally need to take publicity photographs before an exhibition actually starts so if possible put some artwork in the photo that will later be on show. If this isn’t possible use some other artwork similar to that which will be in the exhibition.
- As well as photographing the artwork indoors you could take a photo of the artist or maker holding it outside the venue where the exhibition will be.
- The artist and their artwork need to be well lit, so take some shots outside as well as indoors if you can.
- Artists should try to build up a bank of suitable photos so they will have something ready if a last minute publicity opportunity arises.
What to photograph – post-event publicity
- As well as publicity to promote a future event you may need a photo to send to the press after an event like a meeting, a visit to a studio by a VIP or a charity fund-raiser.
- Make your photos interesting – avoid people standing in a line, shaking hands or handing over cheques!
- Try to have the subject doing something like showing the VIP a piece of art.
- Aim to have a local context for the photo like outside a castle or an exhibition centre or on the beach.
- 10 Make sure the subjects have the appropriate expressions on their faces e.g. happy if it’s a good news story, angry or sad if it’s not. And they’re not wearing sunglasses.
- Take plenty of photos to maximise the chance of getting good ones.
- Check them every so often to make sure you have some decent ones.
- Make your photos as high resolution as possible. See the manual for your camera or phone to check how to do this.
- Take both portrait and landscape shots.
- VERY IMPORTANT – Make a note of the names of the main people in the pictures. You will need this for the captions. Always include a caption for each photo you send with a news release. This should state the name of the artist and the exhibition with its dates.
- Give your files meaningful unique names. Include the person’s name and the title of the event so they can be identified by other people.
Some general tips...
- Be aware of where the light (or sun, if there is one) is coming from. Try to get people’s faces well lit but don’t have them squinting. Look out for shadows.
- Frame your picture in the camera. It’s better to select a good image in the viewfinder rather than excessive cropping later. A camera with a zoom helps you develop a good sense of composition.
- Watch those feet! Head and shoulders is good. A shot cut off at waist height is good. But six inches of leg missing is unusable so get the whole legs and feet if you’re taking whole person shots.
- Good cameras can cope with low light but it’s good to try a few shots with the flash on. Try different vantage points. Get the photographer to stand on a chair if it improves the composition.
- Consider the background. You don’t want to detract from the main subject or have an inappropriate poster behind.
- For super sharp images you can’t beat a tripod and the timer function.
For social media in particular
- Generally, landscape is better than portrait as it renders better on timelines.
- Need to brighten up a photo on the hop? Use Snapseed app and save before sharing.
If you edit your pictures
- Transfer your shots to a computer and start editing. Work on copies of your original files. Online editing tools such as Pixlr and Fotor are quick, easy and free. You can adjust the colour and light balance of your pictures. Don’t overdo it.
- Crop your pictures but don’t reduce the size. Printers, web or newspaper editors will want to work from the biggest images you can supply.
About the Author
Pamela Judge provides a spectrum of PR activities tailored to the needs of charities, community organisations and social enterprises.
Pamela can either carry out all the work to your specifications or provide training and support to your staff so you can do as much as is practical in-house while still reaching high standards of professionalism.
Find out more here:- www.pamelajudge.co.uk