Why good photography is key in PR

A good photograph can make or break a media story. Don’t just take a PR agency’s word for it. I was chatting to a consumer journalist recently – an ex-glossy editor-in-chief – who mentioned that one of her case studies had just been chosen over two others purely because of the good images. Strong photography does more than lift a story – it can become the story.

Images are one of the things we discuss with new clients right at the start. Do they have headshots? Pictures of their team all together? Good images of their products, themselves at work? Often we hear that they do have old photographs but that they no longer like them. Or worse still, they never did in the first place.

That’s such a shame – you shouldn’t be cringing when you see yourself in print – you should be celebrating when you turn the page. You should be pleased with featuring images of you, your products and your team on social media, on your website, on printed documents.

Like any kind of marketing or PR, good photographs can be an investment, but I’d argue it’s one that’s definitely worth making. Having worked in the ad industry for 10 years I know how powerful the right shots can be. Here are 5 things we advise on photography.

1. Invest in a good photographer

We’ve put our recommendations below, but there are a lot of fantastic and talented photographers out there. Even if you think you don’t like having your photo taken, a good photographer will help you to relax and even enjoy the experience. That relaxation and enjoyment will shine through in the shots.

Ask for recommendations and then have a look at their testimonials and the kind of language people use to talk about them. There’s a world of difference between asking a colleague with a camera and investing in a pro. Most importantly, ask to see images they’ve taken before and look for shots that really bring their subjects to life. They shouldn’t look look starchy, cliched, tense or awkward. If you don’t like their example shots, don’t use the photographer.

2. Make sure any images you get are colour and high resolution (300dpi)

These are essential for publications. You can always revert them to black and white for use elsewhere yourself if you prefer. Even website-only shots should be high resolution; ideally around A4 size if you’re asked for details. Tell the photographer what you’re planning to do with the images.

3. Try to get a variety of photos

Ideally, get portrait and landscape photos of your own headshots. Get nice photos of your team, if you have one, and try and avoid anything posed. Reportage-style shots are popular – they should look like a (relaxed) moment in time. Stiff and starchy won’t present you in the best light – remember, these are a visual representation of your company. Feel free to share images you like with the photographer beforehand.

4. Make the backgrounds interesting

Try not to use white screens or backgrounds if you can avoid them – and try to represent you, your business and/or your product if you can. For example, a Bristol company we work with did some great shots recently in front of Bristol street art, which is iconic. Have a think about where to shoot and what you might like behind you. The light outside is always best, so try and go for a dry day if you can.

5. Relax!

Again, a good photographer should put you at ease, make you relax without realising it and will take a brilliant shot. They might even share a few as you go along which could help you relax further.

Photographers can usually do some small retouching after (make sure you know what their quote includes) including getting rid of a couple of greys (I know, because I’ve asked this myself!) Just don’t expect full-scale, Vogue front cover-type retouching.

Our photographer recommendations

Jonathan Cole is an experienced photographer who has taken the majority of our headshots, and we love them. He’s done the same for many of our clients, totally putting them at ease. He has a fantastic, natural style and makes people shine.

Jonny MP is a wedding and family photographer who takes stylish, beautiful photos including portrait shots. He’s friendly and enthusiastic, and did a brilliant shoot for us when our first child was born. We love the photos.

A few more of our PR advice and tips pieces include how to prepare for journalist interviews and the benefits of working with trade and local press.