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Photography 101 for PR, Marketing and Life in General

I’m not shy at all about telling people I’m glad to have a degree in broadcast journalism.  Yes, that means technically I’m another one of the converted, although my transition to PR happened before my career really began.  But I digress…  I say this for a few reasons.  First, I learned how to write.  Second, I learned what real news is.  And third, I learned the importance of (and how to capture) quality photography and videography.

Today’s world of technology, with camera phones in most of our pockets and purses, has turned Twitter, Instagram and other multimedia sharing sites into news sources.  It also has turned the average person into a photographer, with the ability to share an image and communicate with the entire world with just a few touches of a screen.  It’s important for us to remember, though, that we are representatives of our companies and clients – and anything we capture and share reflects on us and the brands we’re connected with.  As such, we have a responsibility to make sure that the images we send into the public domain are as high-quality as possible.
That said, here are a few tips and considerations for improving the quality of your own photography and videography.

  1. Fill up as much of the frame with your subject(s) as possible. An image is always more compelling, and just plain easier to look at, when it’s larger in size.  In addition, from an editing standpoint, there’s enough pixel resolution with the desired subject to be able to crop out excess parts and still publish a quality image.
  2. Backgrounds also matter in shot composition. There are two elements of every shot: the subject(s) and everything else.  The last thing you want is anyone or anything in the background that obscures, diverts attention or steals thunder from the main subject(s) in the frame.  So when shooting, pay as much attention to the background as the subject and adjust if necessary to put everything in the proper balance.
  3. Pay attention to lighting. Your subjects should be well lit and easy to see, but not too much so that they’re straining to see or reflecting a glare back at the camera.  There shouldn’t be shadows that obscure any areas or items of interest in the frame.  The background shouldn’t be much brighter or dimmer than the subject or rest of the frame, because the contrast will make them appear lighter or darker than they actually are and (in either case) harder to see.  Your flash could be a big help – don’t be afraid to use it.
  4. Abide by the “Rule of Thirds.” Think of your preview screen or viewfinder as a tic-tac-toe board, with two lines down and two lines across that divide the screen into three equal rows and columns.  Then try to compose your shots so that your subjects are centered on any line – whatever looks the best – or around one of the four points where the lines intersect each other.  This composition technique adds a little optical spice to a shot because the objects/actions being captured are a bit off-center.  In addition, it leaves space in the opposite side of the frame to possibly incorporate additional subjects or tell other layers of a story.
The "Rule of Thirds"  (photo credit: blendspace.com)

The “Rule of Thirds”
(photo credit: blendspace.com)

Give these things a try, and maybe even practice them from time to time.  These tips aren’t rocket science, but they can make a big difference.  I think you’ll be pleased at the results.

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