Editors frequently complain about the quality of photographs issued for PR purposes, The chief complaints help to provide a check list of editorial photographic requirements:
1. Pictures should be suitable for publication in the journal to which they are sent. The Financial Times does not want dolly birds nor straight product shots. Trade magazines want interesting newsy pictures, not typical industrial record shots. For newspaper reproduction, sharp big-subject pictures are necessary, otherwise small detail will be destroyed by the combination of coarse half-tone block screen and the poor quality newsprint which encourages the ink to spread.
When ordering photographs it is therefore vital to explain to the photographer exactly what is to be photographed and how the picture will eventually be reproduced. Few photographers are equally good at photographing .every kind of picture, and they need to be engaged according to their special skills. A studio photographer is rarely a good action photographer, and the man who specializes in photographing children is unlikely to be a first class photographer of racing pigeons. Unfortunately, very few photographers will admit this, yet editors maintain files listing scores of specialists, and so do art buyers in advertising agencies.
2. Prints should be glossy but unglazed, and preferably on double weight paper. Editors naturally like as big a picture as they can get, However, if a picture is being distributed- by post to many editors two things have to be remembered (a) cost and (b) the risk of damage in transit. The safest practice when mailing photographs to the press is to use nothing larger than a half-plate print, If pictures can be hand-delivered, whole plate or 10 in x 8 in prints will be appreciated The reason why editors like large prints is 80 that they can ‘crop’ them, that is cut away unnecessary parts to achieve a more artistic or dramatic composition. But if this dramatic composition is achieved on the negative, cropping becomes unnecessary and the smaller half-plate print is all the more acceptable, A good deal of cropping derives from the speed with which news pictures have to be taken with little regard for composition. Working in sympathetic collaboration with the right specialist photographer, the PR practitioner can obtain wellcomposed, interesting, newsworthy pictures which will enhance the editorial columns of newspaper or magazine.
3. If the picture consists of people they should be asked to stand close together, and a more detailed and dramatic effect will be gained by taking from head to waist rather than full-length figure shots. If there is a small group, as with a presentation, subjects should be closed up so that the picture does not contain a vacant space in the middle, a fault that easily occurs when photographing two people shaking hands. Most formal groupings make very dull pictures. Few things are more uninteresting than a full-face portrait, yet this is the sort of picture most editors receive wit~ an announcement about a new appointment or promotion.
More advice could be pursued: the message is make PR pictures worth printing! To see how not to do it ask any editor to show you what he has received this week, or pay a visit to the press room at an exhibition centre, Bad photography is where most money is wasted in PR, and not on gin and tonics which went out of fashion with professional PRO’s a long time ago.
Captions Why They are Necessary and What They Should Say?Bad as many PR photographs generally are, their worst and most common and most incomprehensible failing is their lack of caption, When captions are supplied they are more often than not oddly uninformative, Even more remarkable, the source is seldom revealed.
Every illustration submitted to an editor must bear a caption which explains what the picture shows, The caption should be brief but fully informative, If people are in the picture they should be clearly and accurately named from left to right. The caption should be well attached to the print, not dangling from it so that picture and caption are easily separated, It helps to rubber-stamp the back of the print with the name and address of the sender–not the photographer. The best captions have printed headings stating the name, address, telephone number and negative number, the actual caption details then being duplicated on the vacant space below or above the printed identity of source.
All pictures issued for PR purposes must be issued free of copyright, and this means that the sender must own the copyright, The mistake is sometimes made of stating on rubber stamp or caption that the picture is the copyright of the sender, but this invites the editor to reject a picture on which he presumes he will have to pay a reproduction fee. Nor should the sender plead for acknowledgement or for a cutting of the reproduction.