3 ways to get an effective local news photo shoot
Updated: May 4
Media photographers are often going to be your only 1-1 contact with the news brand you commissioned your PR agency to engage. Your press release has got the newsdesk’s attention. But often, for diary reasons, the journalist will do the interview by phone and book the photographer in for a separate date. The way the picture job proceeds will inevitably be fed back, by the photographer, to the reporter and the newsdesk. So what do you need to know?
Our secret expert
1284 asked a press photographer with decades of experience in the trade - who is not based in Leicester, but who has shot portraits of everyone from Prime Ministers in their battle buses to local business leaders in their boardrooms - how to make sure a picture job goes smoothly for everyone. These are their four suggestions.
1. Be clear - they likely won’t have much time
News photographers are busy people. They will probably have a large geographical area to cover and a number of jobs to get round in a single shift. Patch size, combined with breaking news, is why job times sometimes get moved around. When the toggie does arrive they will likely not have much time to get the shot they need. Their brief may not be comprehensive. Therefore, you being ready and telling them clearly (and succinctly) at the outset what the angle is (and what you would prefer the end product to look like) will help them to get the best shot. So, be professional. Do so and it will be reciprocated...
2. Be polite - this is (usually) a collaboration
...however. Remember that the photographer is also a professional. They will have shot hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs like yours. They will be interested to work with you to reflect the story. The exception to this rule is when they are taking pictures of people emerging from court. Don’t tell them how to do their job. Instead, ask them, at the outset, what can be done and how you can assist. Politeness goes a long way. Don’t chat to them while they are shooting. And, whatever else you do, don’t start taking pictures of them while they are shooting your portrait. Especially if you are doing it on a mobile phone to go on social media.
3. Prepare ideas - but don’t be pushy
So you have a preferred side. Or you want to be shot from a certain angle. It is OK to ask for a specific image (see point 1). Good communication is as important a tool to a photographer as a good camera. Feel free to suggest an idea the tog can take and develop into a good picture or a great piece of visual storytelling. Maybe you have already suggested a good location or an appropriate prop. If they disagree there will be a valid reason. Respect that. And don’t forget to offer a drink or a butty. Remember that news photographers spend most of their time on the road driving between jobs!
1284 is a Loughborough PR agency. Its Sector Specifics blog offers real world tips shared by media professionals who work with non-media professionals. Each post contains the observations of an anonymised former or current regional media professional. Their expertise lies in the area in discussion. None of those featured currently works in Leicestershire media or PR.