This could not be a more important issue and one we come across all of the time.
You’ve been asked by your PR agency for your publicity stills – what does that mean and how do you know what makes a great shot?
Images are essential in making your story pop. They draw the eye of readers and bring them into your story.
In this post, we break down what makes a great publicity shot, what doesn’t and why you should care.
Hire a professional photographer
- A journalist will not take a shot that looks amateur. Your first priority is to hire a professional photographer to ensure you get beautiful, high-resolution images of your project.
Below is a photo I took myself at the Italian Contemporary Film Festival (ICFF) closing night gala of the dance performance in comparison to a photo taken by the professional photographer of the night. My shot is poorly composed, it is dark and has a lens flare. The professionally taken photo has a centre focal point, is high-resolution and great lighting. It is clearly the better option.
- Lighting and contrast is important – always remember that the photos may be transferred into black and white for print and if your photo is dimly lit with no contrast…you will have a black blob for an image and journalists will not use the photo.
Here is an image from the closing night gala of the ICFF. The image is bright, with a centre focus, and has great contrast. As seen below – the image transfers quite easily to black and white.
Key messaging in the centre of the shot
- If you are promoting a person, make sure that person is in the middle of the shot. The same goes with product or events. Your image should tell your story. If you are unsure about your image – show it to someone with no context and ask them what they see when they look at the image.
Landscape vs. Portrait
- When it comes time for the editor to lay out the piece, they will have room for an image but it could be a landscape (horizontal) image or a portrait (vertical) image. You should be able to provide both orientations so that they have options.
Credits and captions
- It is illegal to use someone’s work without crediting him or her for it. Photography is your photographer’s craft and they deserve the credit. Make sure you include a photo credit with their name (Format – Photo Credit: Jane Stephenson)
- Captions are equally as important. A caption is a short one liner about what you see in the photo. An example would be “John Smith welcomes guests to the Star Awards”
- Images need to be a very high-resolution so they can be used for web/print. We recommend your photo be at least 300dpi and 1,280 x 960 pixels.
- Your image should be crisp and in focus – blurry shots do not make good editorial images.
An image can make the difference between a reader stopping to read your story and glossing over it entirely.
You want to have an image that makes your story stick out, follow the guidelines above and you will be sure to have all eyes watching your project unfold.