Point and press cameras have a lot to answer for. Ask any professional photographer. The ease with which anyone with an index finger can capture images is the root cause of a dearth of mostly-average PR images. And professionals aren’t immune from that observation either. So, here’s what you can do improve your PR shots.
NB Apart from the last two examples (which I explain) every single one of these images was reproduced by client’s key media!
1. Use the Power of Perspective
Just because images are in two dimensions doesn’t mean we shouldn’t compose them in three!
I’d be a rich man if I had a penny for every photographer who took a picture for me outside a client’s building with them pressed up against a wall. Then they have a torrid time trying to compose the picture with the buildings 10 foot branding in the background. Take your subject 20-30 feet away from the building (see below) and the image changes completely. And the branding discretely floats above the subject’s shoulders. (Photo editor’s can’t crop it out!!)
Also, embrace the power of the lower third. Not all lenses will do this for you. But, ironically, most of the cheaper point and press cameras on auto settings will! In trophy presentations you can push the trophy (or any object like an ash tray for that matter. A little out of focus here.) towards the lens. Makes a great composition. And some discrete branding opportunities too!
2. Go low. Go high.
In my opinion, a cardinal sin in a PR photograph is to simply turn up and take a photograph at eye level. Images have a real power to surprise. But if we take images from the usual ‘expected’ view point (eye level) you get an ‘expected’ image. Dull! Dull! Dull!
Varying the position of the camera, for example if you go high when capturing large groups of people, will make it easier to compose. Stand on a chair (health and safety: make sure it’s secure) or a step ladder.
So go low ..
(This shot was taken into the sun with the flash on! That’s what flattens out the shadows and gives the halo effect around the outline of the head)
And go high. Maybe even cherry picker high?
And a low viewing angle as seen here is a great technique to get rid of cluttered backgrounds too. NB Just watch out for those double chins!
The benefits of tilting a camera gives you an option to improve the composition of the image. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, things just won’t fit at 180 or 90 degrees.
But this tip comes with a word of warning. Back in the day, I loved tilted images and used this technique all the time. Until, after presenting another collection of mostly-tilted images, my client enquired if I had been drunk in charge of the camera. He had a point! So by all means keep a tilt as an option. Just don’t over do it.
Credit: Paul Sweeney
4. Be spontaneous
Vary your shot choices. Try things. Take control and go with your gut. They won’t always work out. But there’s magic in those spontaneous moments. And it will come through in your images. Here’s what happened when I discovered a multi-shoot button on my camera. Wow! There’s real joy when you get an image you really hadn’t expected to get.
5. Get the light right.
Just look at this. Beautiful isn’t it? Check out the shaft of light coming through a ceiling roof. See what I mean?
6. Use props.
Cakes, trophies, cuddly toys, keys .. use something that helps the people in the photo do something other than just stand there. And do something that helps to tell the story. Because it’s all about the story.
In this case we used props to promote a construction industry tenpin bowling tournament. Nice use of perspective and interesting angle here too!
7. Have fun!
Two of my favourite pictures came from a devilish sense of mischief. But, the client hated them – in both cases! So they’re seen in public here for the first time. With apologies to the client! What do you think?
Here we recruit a traffic warden to have the inaugural examination of a new foot clinic. Well they’re on their feet all day aren’t they?
And here I convinced a car dealership boss to be rugby tackled by a pro rugby league star. Yes, I was laughing as I took it. I think he was actually in pain.
I think both pictures would’ve been used. And I think they complement the story with an authentic slice of personality. People buy from people they know like and trust.
Have I missed anything out?
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