Part 2: Getting media savvy – What makes a photo media friendly?

Camera lensWhen you were last reading the newspaper, which articles did you read? Did your eyes jump straight to the big blocks of text or to the ones that had big, colourful photographs alongside them? Because people are visual beings, we’re more likely to read an article when there’s something aesthetically pleasing in it for our eyes.

This is why the ability to provide good photographs to journalists could be a matter of life and death… for any articles that you do manage to get into the paper! In fact, it could be the difference between your story or article being accepted or put aside.

If you missed the first part of our media series you can read it here: What should you say when a journalist calls?

Because journalists are time-poor, they often ask candidates to send photographs in as opposed to sending camera crews all over the place. And, since people are more likely to read articles when there’s a photograph attached to it, the ability to provide a good photograph could be a matter of life or death… for the article in question!

Professional photographs can be costly, but getting a selection of photos taken is definitely a worthwhile investment for your business. Not only can you use these photos on your website and in other marketing activity, but you can also have them on file for award entries and send to journalists if they ask for them. So, if do decide to hire a professional, or if you have a friend who considers him or herself to be a bit of a budding photographer, ensure that they follow these guidelines:

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  • Make sure that they are high-resolution images – that is, at least 300dpi for print (can be less for online)
  • Get a mixture of shots that can be used for different scenarios and stories – e.g. landscape and portrait shots, natural/action shots and staged shots, and shots with one or a few subjects in the photo and busier shots including more people
  • Add captions with the full names of the people who are featured (L-R)
  • Have people in the foreground, not just in the background
  • Images must be clear, bright and with good contrast – this is particularly important for images that may be converted to black and white for newspapers
  • Favour full colour over black and white
  • You can have photos that include your business’ branding in the background, particularly if they are corporate photos, but have some without branding so that you don’t reduce your chances of coverage
  • Don’t watermark photos or add graphics or text
  • If you are getting photographs taken specifically for a lifestyle/consumer/light story, try to compose a scenario that will be interesting to the eye – e.g. the photo could tell a story based on the activity taking place or the expressions or human interactions
  • Where possible, try to include newsworthy or attention-grabbing things like cute children, fluffy animals or dramatic landscapes (wouldn’t you rather look at something like that?)


Finally, don’t forget to get permission from anyone who is in a photo that you want to offer to a journalist. They must be made aware of how the photo may be used and that in some cases it may be syndicated across multiple media outlets. Also, when dealing with people who are under 18, make sure that a media waiver form is signed by a parent or guardian.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next part in our 5-part media series: What makes something newsworthy?

Are you more likely to read an article if there’s a corresponding photo?

3 thoughts on “Part 2: Getting media savvy – What makes a photo media friendly?”

  1. Great article, Phoebe. There’s so much research now that shows that people are more likely to read articles that have a photograph alongside them, and it’s perhaps even more important that it’s a good quality photograph. A low quality photo either won’t be used or reflects badly on the subjects.

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