Toshiba Automotive Image Processors are helping to improve road safety

A great example of a PR image that helped Toshiba generate lots of positive media coverage

While there are many reasons why an editor rejects a PR photo, the primary reason is that the image simply isn’t good enough. Smiley photos of the MD on the putting green, for example, are today considered ‘cheesy’ and certainly not sufficient to grab reader attention and encourage him or her to read the story.

Aside from the obvious reasons for image rejection, such as insufficient resolution, unfavourable format or missing captions, the plain fact is that way too many photos are dismissed because they simply don’t make the grade. Editors cringe at unimaginative images such as the industry-coined ‘grip and grin’ PR photos of smiley people clutching giant cheques, awards or new products, for example.

Ultimately, a good photo can have a strong influence on story selection, particularly if it is vying for space with a similar piece. With this in mind, getting photography right is of utmost importance.

Fact: if an editor has two stories of similar appeal or strength, they are far more likely to choose the one with the best images.

So, pray tell, what makes a good PR photo? Well, in essence an image should try to convey all the important elements of a story in a single frame, grab the readers’ attention and make them interested enough to read the story. The best image sells a message in a subtle way, and the best approach is to have an image strong in both visuals and composition.

The proposed market for the image can also influence the style of photography deployed. With this in mind, always photograph a range of alternative shots and poses on different focal length lenses, such that various different titles can be accommodated. Objects or people should be organised so that there is minimal wasted space and the viewer’s eye is not greeted with excessive detail – simplicity is the most effective form of communication.

Of course, there are many factors to consider, not least issues such as focus, contrast, lighting, background, angle and framing. Beyond the technicalities, however, the photo must convey the central themes of the story, while at the same time communicate any messages in a suitably subtle way. Furthermore, product and people shots demand different approaches.

Clearly, the image should be evenly lit in every instance. Also, pay close attention to the background to ensure it is not distracting. If the central element is a company product then it should be photographed in its particular environment and isolated within at least one picture. If the focus is on people then concentrate on the four W’s: who, when, where and why. Try to gain height wherever possible to provide an alternative viewpoint.

Sometimes the best image is not the obvious shot. One example springs to mind of sending a photographer to an engineering company that had fallen victim to forklift theft. How is it possible to photograph an unhappy MD with a forklift that isn’t there? The secret is to find another approach – adding a new lock to the company gate? Transporting large billets of metal in wheelbarrows because the forklift is gone? The personality and creativity of the photographer has a huge bearing on this.

Framing is another important issue; ensure everything in the photo is centred. Keep it tight, with the subject filling as much of the frame as possible. This will save cropping duties for the publication.

Last but not least, consider tagging the images. Online story placement means tagged images are searchable and can drive traffic back to the company website.

As a final thought, consider how dull a magazine would be if it was just page after page of text with no images? Very few, if any, would read it.

To find out more about how to maximise the potential of PR images please click here.


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