Importance of photography in storytelling and building brand

In an increasingly mobile and visual world the case for investing in great photography and video has never been stronger.

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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 words.

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.

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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.

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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 to."

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 anymore.

"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 more?"

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 sharpness."

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, visit:

www.michaelbaister.co.uk

www.thehouseofhues.com

www.michaelhughesphoto.com

www.crestphotography.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Written by Wayne Halton at 00:00

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Contact us

Telephone: 0191 233 1300
Fax: 0191 233 9530
Email: enquiries@mhwpr.co.uk

Mitchell Halton Watson
8 Higham Place,
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 8AF

MHW 2013

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