What a picture – tips for creative PR photography

Account Director Shona Hendry shares some tips for getting creative with PR photography.

What do mirrors, face paints, children, inflatable globes and flexible students have in common? There will always be a place for traditional photography, particularly for corporate and business PR, but if there’s the scope to be creative, a brilliant photo can speak a thousand words.

Picture the scene…it’s a chilly Thursday morning and there are a group of people standing in a park, gathered round a climbing frame designed for five-year-olds and accompanied by a photographer.

Suddenly one of the group hooks her legs over the bar and starts swinging upside down, blood rushing to her head as the photographer snaps away.

Ah, the things we do for a good photo. This was a true story, all for the sake of a story about a client who was taking part in a bungee jump to raise money for a urological cancer charity.

We could have tread a more conventional path and had her photographed in her office or with the charity logo in the background – but the most we could have hoped for was a couple of paragraphs under a small headline.

Why not attempt to recreate said bungee jump and generate far more media coverage thanks to the resulting creative photo?

Of course, there are plenty of occasions when swinging from a climbing frame is entirely inappropriate, but if the story warrants a bit of creativity, a good PR agency will come up with ideas for photography that’s eye-catching and brief the photographer to take photos that are a bit unusual.

The days of big cheque handovers are long gone – with the exception of some regional newspapers – and we also have seen a considerable shift away from the “man in suit” photo that could have come straight from the pages of a catalogue.

Increasingly, journalists will use action shots to illustrate stories, such as a diver at work on the seabed to accompany a story about a predicted skills shortage in the oil and gas industry, so it’s important to be smart and think about how to bring the story to life through photography.

Last year, we launched the annual TechFest in September festival of science, technology, engineering and maths by recreating the logo – the word TechFest – using just the top of a hill and several flexible festival assistants.

And we made several people’s day by commissioning a carnival dancer clad in just a bikini and some feathers to pose in Glasgow’s George Square alongside a cyclist to a launch a charity cycle challenge from London to Rio.

So my advice for getting creative:

  • Think about what you are trying to communicate – what would bring the story to life?
  • If you are limited by location, mirrors, face paints, children, inflatable globes or bendy students can all prove to be handy props for unusual photoshoots
  • Funding announcements or donations to charity can be illustrated by people actually doing what the money will be used for
  • Business profiles could be accompanied by a pic of the subject doing his or her hobby, or at home

There will always be a place for traditional photography, particularly for corporate and business PR, but if there’s the scope to be creative, a brilliant photo can speak a thousand words.