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What makes an effective publicity photo? Mick Forsdike Sara Popp


“A picture is worth a thousand words”


Why is a photo so important • local newspapers – grabbing their attention – lack of resources

• website – selling courses to students http://www.cirencester.ac.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=932&Itemid=166

• students http://www.cirencester.ac.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=939&Itemid=166


Tips on Content • Introduce levels amongst your subjects. • Think in 3 dimensions to add depth • Think about using props / objects to give some context and for people to react to / focus on. • Reactions can be as effective as actions. • Eyes matter more than smiles.


Tips on Content • By moving closer to the subject you can change the background / composition more than at a distance. • Include background which implies place and purpose … don’t worry if the whole building isn’t in the shot! • Try to fill the frame with interest. • Think of each image as one in a sequence which has a ‘narrative’. • Cheesey works – think cheesey!


Some technical tips • Hold the camera steady and support it on something if possible. • Don’t shoot with strong backlight – try to have the sun behind you or get subject side-on to a light source. • Try to avoid bright sunlight as it causes ugly shadows and squinting eyes as well as washing out detail. • Turn off auto flash. Only use flash on relatively close subjects in the dark, to light a dark subject against a dark background or to reduce contrast in bright light!


more technical tips • Ensure the main subject is in focus – get to know how your camera does this. • Avoid subject being too close to focus on • Moving away and using zoom flattens the depth of field reducing foreground / sky. • Zoom will increase risk of camera shake • Don’t fixate on getting everything / everyone in the shot as this will lead to wide angle shots with lots of boring foreground. • Check for obvious things like trees growing out of heads and unsightly bins. • Shoot multiple frames and select the best later.


Be ‘The Photographer’ • Be polite but firm - people expect to be told what to do by photographers. • Try to make people feel at ease but avoid embarrassing them. • Have a couple of ideas in mind before you start. • Don’t fixate on ‘smiles’ … relaxed is more important. • Preview images immediately and don’t grimace: people take it personally • It may be easier to move yourself than 20 students – get low / high / close / distant.


Some Examples


Details count


Context is everything


Levels / implied purpose


Think in 3d to add depth


Capture the mood


Bananas with Cheese!


Breaking the rules


Nice idea + Photoshop


= Pure Gold !


Flash outdoors !


Zoom flattens


Go wide with interest


Simple idea but ‌ where are they?


Move around to get the right angle


Get creative!


Show Activity / Purpose


“What are they looking at?”


“Oh, I see”


Tell the story


A good picture is worth a thousand words


Marketing Photos