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11 questions to ask to make sure people send in the perfect photograph (one you can actually use!) for your newsletter (11 Aug 08)

If you are clear about what you want you’ll avoid ending up with those painful mug shots of bored looking people in excruciatingly dull situations

It’s a tough job producing a newsletter as you often have to rely on others.

And one of your biggest bugbears is probably getting people to send in a half-decent photograph.

That is why I am sending you these guidelines you can pass on when you ask anyone to send in a photograph to use in a newsletter or leaflet.

I have concentrated on photographs of people for a simple reason.

They are the most commonly used. And that is quite right: people look at people more than objects.

In fact putting a face in something always increases readership – unless it’s a boring face.

It all seems so easy to photograph people, but it’s not.

So please do feel free to pass these tips on - and you should find them useful yourself when you are briefing photographers.

1 General planning

Make sure that you have thought about what point the picture should make.
For example, do you want the person to look friendly or authoritative? So should they have a jacket on or off? Should they be smiling or looking more serious?

2 Is it for a magazine or newspaper picture or something more formal?

Do you want it to be a ‘fly on the wall’ where no-one pays attention to the camera or do you want the person to be looking towards the camera in a more formal setting?

3 Backgrounds

Will your subject stand out of the background? Is it visually too busy or should you find a plain background? The answer is almost always the latter. If the background is plain the face of the person is what we see first. We can take in their features quickly without a distracting cluttered background.

4 Scenes to avoid

Mug shots of meetings and conferences where you have lines of less than enraptured participants are to be avoided, as are those tedious images of people sat at a computer.

Similarly, avoid shots of big wigs for the sake of it. Try to get pictures where people are actually doing something and look genuinely interested. It always helps too if people look happy and confident.

5 Do you want a photograph taken indoors or outdoors?

The light outside will be much more natural. It can also be much more forgiving on the subject matter, as it is generally less harsh. Having said that you should always avoid glaring sunshine.

If you are shooting inside think about which lights are on. Turn some of them off if they are causing harsh shadows or strange highlights. If you need to use flash remember about red-eye, so check your camera instructions to avoid this.

6 Hair and make-up

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