In an increasingly mobile and visual world the case for
investing in great photography and video has never been
All too often though photography is an after-thought and
receives the fag-end of the marketing budget. Its value is not
always properly understood either by a business or sometimes their
own PR adviser. Companies can be too quick to send out the office
junior with a digital camera to take some poorly lit and badly
composed image of an event, product or their own staff. Amateur
photography is a false economy and ultimately presents the company
in a poor light.
It's disappointing to see so much poor photography being used by
companies in their PR, on their websites and in printed materials.
At best, this might be generic, stock library photography; but
sometimes it's 'stolen' from online sources and other times it's
just badly executed, low-res amateur efforts.
At MHW we always stress the importance of creative photography
and working with professionals. This should be seen as a good
investment in an company's brand. We work with a range of talented
North East based photographers who we pick and choose for different
client jobs depending on their understanding and comfort with the
subject area - whether that be food photography, people, fashion
and events, buildings or technical products.
We work closely with preferred photographers to ensure the
images we get either add value to the story we're telling on behalf
of a client or, in some instances, can tell the story better than
In PR terms, eye-catching photography can improve the likelihood
of a story being used in a magazine, newspaper or online. If we
catch the eye of an editor, they'll recognise it will attract the
eye of a reader.
Also, the media is changing the rules, and what it wants from PR
people. The 'digital first' Manchester Evening News, for example,
says it's unlikely to look at stories unless there is a good image
or video attached.
Focussing on the importance of good photography in PR, we asked
some top regionally based professionals about what makes a strong
image and what it should communicate:
Firstly, a clear understanding of the brief and photo shoot are
important. Michael Baister, of Michael Baister
Photography, says: "In the chain of the creative process
from the client to the PR/idea and art direction through to copy
writing and the photography, the communication of the message is
vital. A clear understanding of this is important and should be the
keystone that underpins the meaning of the image. Pretty pictures
are nice, but if it misses the client's message or brief, they're
all wasting money and time!"
Bec Hughes, of House of Hues, says: "A good PR
photograph should not only include the elements and people relevant
to the story, but also strong composition and lighting along with
something that catches the viewer's eye.
"Most PR photos are about, or include, people. Therefore, a good
PR photo should connect with a viewer. As a photographer, helping
the subject look and feel comfortable in front of the lens is key.
Setting, is also a very important element to tell a story, or at
least hint at what sector or environment the PR piece is referring
Michael Hughes, of Michael Hughes Photography,
says: "We are now living in a visual world. Over 1.8 billion images
are uploaded onto social networks every day. It is more important
than ever that you carefully plan your PR photography to get the
best image possible to front your PR campaign, to make your image
stand out from the crowd. Average is just not good enough
"One of the roles of the image is to make the viewer stop and
read the article. Does seeing a line of people in an office with
some logo really make you want to read or click to find out
Simon Williams, of Crest Photography, says: "I
have always tried to tell the PR story in a shot rather than just
randomely shooting people and things. Gimmicks and props can work
well. Other subject matter to catch the eye of the media are kids
and animals! And then it's all about composure, colour, shapes and
Strong, creative photography should look striking but appear
effortless. Powerful images are a combination of an idea, a story
and technical execution. Pictures should help tell stories. Why
would anyone expect an amateur be able to do this?
For a taster of good photography used in PR and marketing,