Impressive images can help make or break a media story and great shots can boost your brand if you use them across websites, literature and social media.

Images used for PR purposes tend to follow a specific format.  They are not marketing images showing models who have no connection to your business.  Nor are they gorgeously designed product images.

They feature people – and relevant people.

Here are some tips to get the best shots to promote your business.

Include people in your PR photos

Your first impression on any page usually comes from the photos.  A good photo can awaken your interest and draw you into the article.  In media stories, people want to know about people.  They want to see the person who features in the story so most of the image should show that person.  If your story is about two people – show both those people in your photo.

The way that person comes across is critical.  So, to set up the image, make sure the subject is relaxed as possible and not too stiff or distant (unless of course, that is what you want to portray).

I recently listened to a podcast about Desert Island Discs and prior to recording, the original presenter, Roy Chumley used to take each interviewee out for a boozy lunch to relax them and get the best interview.  Now, I’m not suggesting you get the subject of your photo hammered, but do have a chat and make a connection so they feel at ease.  The result will come across in your photos.

Face first

The face and upper half of the body of the subject are the most important part of the photo so fill the image with them.

Also, think about the composition of the shot. The subject should stand slightly side on with his/ her face turned towards the camera. This way you will get a more 3D effect instead which will bring the photo to life.  For a classic head shot, fill up the viewfinder with your subject’s head and shoulders and zoom in close.

In the background, you may choose to show your business logo.  Or for a more subtle approach,  you can hint at what the story features.  So, if the article is about a person works in a spa, photograph them with the jacuzzi in the background.  If the person is a doctor, have a stethoscope in their hands.

What to wear for PR photos

The clothing the subject wears, including accessories, should be in the style and look that you want to be represented. Clothing should be appropriate for the context.  Wear formal business attire if you plan to use the photo for a formal business purpose.  Wear casual clothing if the photo is going to be used for a casual purpose.

Dark clothing is best because it provides the necessary contrast to emphasise the face.  Light clothing will reflect light back up on the face which can make the image look washed out.  Bright colours look less business like. Whatever colour you choose, think simple, think classic.

Avoid patterns on clothes as they will be a distraction from the most important element of the photo which is the face.

Hair, teeth and facial hair should be clean and tidy.

What background to choose for PR photos

Choose a location that represents the image you want to portray.  The focus needs to be on the face so the background should not be distracting in any way.

Make sure there are no corners in the background which may result in shadows.  A plain cream or white background will make the subject stand out more.  If you are taking batch photos of your employees, try to use the same background for all your staff’s headshots for consistency.

What time of day to take PR photos

Daylight is best because it offers natural light which provides professional looking shots.

You don’t want to take a picture looking into the sun, but equally, if your subject is facing the sun, they’ll end up squinting. If the sun is too bright, position yourself in the shade so there are fewer contrasting shadows and a softer light. If you’re taking the photograph indoors, be careful of glare from sunny windows or the reflection of lights or the flash on windows and mirrors.

Image sizes which work best for PR   

If the photos are for the media, take them in the same perspective and layout  ‐normally portrait rather than landscape.

Use the image size appropriate for your use.  So, for printed media, the images should be high-resolution pictures.  Different types of social media have preferred image sizes so make sure you create the correct size or resize images for your requirements.

Finally, photos taken on mobile phones are sophisticated these days but if you want truly outstanding shots, invest in a professional photographer.


Therese Hoyle · February 22, 2017 at 10:15 am

Thank you Katy, great article with lots of helpful advice.

Katy Pollard · March 10, 2017 at 8:06 am

Thanks Therese, glad you found it helpful.

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