matm is a marketing company based in Telford in Shropshire. It works mainly with B2B clients, providing web development, graphic design, PR, print management and marketing consultancy.
We’re delighted that their PR manager, Andy Comber, has agreed to write this guest post for us about how to take a good photograph. Before moving into PR, Andy was an award-winning journalist who worked on daily newspapers and as a reporter, news editor and producer at ITV. Here are his top 10 photography tips.
At matm, we do a lot of great work for our customers.
Where we can, we like to tell others about it, either on our website or in the news media, because this will help us to win more work and keep us busy and successful into the future.
Very often, an important part of telling the story is providing a picture to show how something was done or present the key people involved.
Although there are times when it is essential to use a professional photographer, you don’t always need professional quality photography (shocking thing to say, but true). It must, however meet certain standards, so that it looks right when published in magazines, papers and online.
If you follow my 10 basic rules and use a decent camera, you may surprise yourself at how good a picture you can take.
1. Quality counts
The quality of the picture, often called its ‘size’ or ‘resolution’, is very important. If possible, use a decent quality digital camera. However, some mobile devices now have good quality cameras. Set the camera to the highest possible resolution. A simple rule of thumb is – if the j-peg image the camera creates, when downloaded, is 1 megabyte or more in size, it should be alright.
2. Choose your location and background
Avoid taking pictures towards the sun. This results in darkened pictures. Avoid taking pictures that need flash. It is better to go outside and use natural light. Make sure the background is clean, uncluttered and appropriate. It should not show off other companies’ equipment or logos. It should not show unsafe practices. And it should not identify any person who has not given their permission to be in the picture.
3. Put our business in the picture
The story is about your business and what you do, so it makes sense to include the company name and logo in the picture. This can be done by placing a vehicle in the picture so a logo can be shown. In addition, logos on uniforms or other equipment should be prominently displayed.
4. Show yourself at your best
Make sure all members of staff look presentable and wear the correct, clean uniform, including safety clothing (PPE). Vehicles and equipment should also be the most up-to-date and best condition available. They should also be correctly displayed and clean.
5. Demonstrate best practice health and safety
Health and safety standards are critical to many businesses work. To demonstrate this, pictures taken on operational sites should clearly show that proper health and safety procedures are being followed, so there can be no doubt in the minds of the reader or viewer.
6. Not too far away, not too close
When taking the picture, do not stand too far away, so the people and equipment in it look like dots on the horizon! Also, do not stand so close, that important elements of the story, such as the location, working conditions or equipment, cannot be seen. Make sure key elements of the picture, for example people and equipment, are shown in their entirety, and not cropped at the edge of the image.
7. Create a focus
So the picture helps tell the story, it is important to pick out the key aspects and make them more prominent. For example, if the story is about the achievements of one or two people in a team, put those people in the foreground so they look bigger in the picture. If it is about a specific piece of equipment, display that more prominently too.
8. Show it off
A story may be about a specific piece of equipment. Or it may be about an employee winning an award, or the signing of an agreement. In such cases, where a ‘prop’ is available, make sure it is prominently and confidently displayed in the picture.
9. Look – and smile!
It is important that to create a professional and welcoming impression. Therefore, make sure everyone in the picture is looking at the camera. Make sure their eyes are open (closed eyes is a common mistake!). And make sure, that everyone has a confident, friendly smile. Of course, the exception is when the story is about something very serious, in which case a neutral expression is most appropriate.
10. If in doubt – ask!
If you have any concerns about how to take the picture, contact the marketing department for advice.
So there you are – 10 top photography tips which should transform how you frame, focus and smile.