Engaging media interest

Taking pictures for the press

What do you need to get a picture published in the press? It’s a question often asked by charities and small businesses with a news item they want to send out as a press release.

The simple answer is a cam­era, simple skills and good media contacts. And you can increase your chances considerably by following a simple set of guidelines.

Shooting a quality photo

  • Know how your camera works. Out of focus or fuzzy pictures are unlikely to be published.
  • Include people. People like to hear about people. And they love to see them too. Even if it’s a story about a renovated historic mansion, you need more than the building alone. It cries out for people in the foreground.
  • Show people doing something that illustrates the story itself. An enthusiastic crowd implies popular concern for the project.
  • Check parents are happy to have pictures of their children in the paper.
  • Shoot a picture that shows the emotion of the event. Photos that show the elation of success or the disappointment of a setback often get published.
  • Direct the people whom you are photographing. Only the photographer knows what will be in the picture.
  • Keep talking to them to maintain their interest and keep them animated.
  • Compose your shot carefully. Good picture composition catches the eye and evokes the interest of the viewer. A successful photographer pays attention to visual elements such as lines, forms, textures, balance, symmetry, depth, colours, perspective, scale, and lighting.
  • Take lots of pictures before choosing the best one. When you think you have a great picture, try to get a better one.
  • Don’t alter the digital image. It shouldn’t need to be cropped – this will reduce quality. The newspaper can do that far more professionally.

Knowing your publishers and what they want

  • Decide where you want to get your picture and press release published – newspapers, magazines or even Internet websites.
  • Contact the newspaper and ask the newsdesk or picture editor what sort of shots they would be interested in publishing. Have some examples of your work readily available.
  • Ask yourself if your ‘news’ is, in fact, newsworthy. Your recent holiday abroad may be of supreme interest to you, but will it really interest the readers of the publications you send it to?
  • Does the photograph you are submitting add anything to your story? A stunning picture may even become the story.
  • Email your picture in JPEG format to the newspaper you have chosen. Send the picture as an attachment to the story in your press release.
  • Send all the necessary information for the picture – a caption which includes the names of everyone, spelt correctly, and identified left to right. Get ages if relevant.
  • Include your full contact details and information about who is sending the news release.
  • Phone the newspaper to make sure your email has been received. Talking to both the picture editor and the news editor helps.
  • And remember that determination, patience and a little luck may also be required.