10 tips for taking better publicity pictures


A great picture will encourage more people to read and share your press release, blog article or social media post. Ideally, pay an experienced press photographer to take some images. It’s money well spent. If you just don’t have the budget and are forced to take your own, here are 10 ways to take better publicity pix…

  1. Avoid cliche images: cheque handover, shovel digging, the handshake, the ribbon cut, the trophy handover. Photograph the benefits –  instead of cheque handover take pix of the people who will benefit from the donation. Shoot real people involved in real benefits.
  2. Take lots of pictures to increase the chances of capturing a good one. Avoid background clutter and aim for clean, sharp images. Make sure there’s nothing weird in the background, such a plant sticking out of one of your subject’s heads. Consider light. Shoot in daylight and watch out for full sun. Ideally, have the sun over one of your shoulders but avoid having your subject squinting into full sun.
  3. Tell a story with your image. Construct your picture to illustrate the story or message you are trying to convey. For example, in a story about how much paperwork is needed for one patient in hospital, you could line up the paperwork along the middle of a long corridor. Props are good in a picture if they help tell the story.
  4. Add foreground interest. Something in the foreground when you compose the picture, will add interest and take the eye around the image.
  5. Arrange people carefully. Avoid lining up people or they will look more like a fence or a row of suspects. Bring some people to the front and group them closer together. Group informally. A person in the foreground will add depth and interest to the image. Iove the above publicity picture which was sent to me to use in Women’s Running magazine by AAT events to publicise the Guildford 10k. A line up of runners would have been dull, but these competitors look as if they are having a joke and the line-up adds foreground interest. A great picture from a PR that I could drop straight into my pages on Women’s Running.
  6. Get in close. Rather than zooming in which reduces picture quality, get closer to your subject. As close as you can.
  7. Go for natural poses. They make for the best pictures. Talk to people as you arrange where they stand. They will relax as you laugh and joke with them. When they are aware of the camera and uptight, the picture will look uncomfortable and staged.
  8. Include a focal point. The best publicity shots have a point of interest – a focal point that draws the eye. If there’s more than one the image will seem confusing and people won’t now where to look first.
  9. Choose an interesting angle. Get down low or up high, shoot from a balcony or stand on a table, take a shot from the side, crouch down or even lie on the ground.
  10. Make sure you send a detailed caption to the editor. It should explain what’s going on and the names of the people in the shot. Include it in your Editor’s Notes at the end of your press release. Don’t forget to mention whether it’s free to use or if any picture credit is needed. Send editors smaller images but let them know higher resolutions are available if they need them.