Wick Communications

When bad photos happen

In Photography on February 28, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Awards (5)

This is a photo that was submitted to the Half Moon Bay Review last week. For reasons that I hope are obvious, it did not make the print or online editions.

The photo is from one family’s Oscar-viewing party. These folks live in our area and invited some friends over to see all the Hollywood pageantry as it played out on television. Someone snapped the shot in hopes that it might make a stand-alone picture for the newspaper.

Well… it was a decent idea.

Obviously, the photo is too dark and the woman in the foreground is acting as if she is Anne Hathaway being pestered by the paparazzi. So we politely accepted the photo and put it in the virtual circular file.

Submitted photos can be very seductive. Who doesn’t need local art in the paper? It seems like there is never enough of it. Furthermore, you want to encourage folks to think of you and send in their feature and news photos.

But some things are just beneath inclusion in a professional product. Please don’t run photos like this just because you think you will get in trouble if you don’t.

When you get a photo like the one we got, here’s what I suggest: …

  • Say thanks. Tell the submitter that you really appreciate her thinking of you, that you love to see photos from community events and that you would absolutely love to see more from her in the future.
  • Tell her what she already knows. The photo is just a little too dark and at least one of the subjects seems less than thrilled to be a part of it. Explain that you have limited space and you have room for only the best stuff.
  • Provide suggestions. Suggest that next time she turn on the lights. Tell her not to worry about including everyone. Tell her that action almost always trumps inclusiveness. Tell her that perhaps a photo from another angle, maybe with the back of someone’s head in the foreground and the Oscar telecast in the background might have better told that particular story.
  • Work with frequent contributors. That is true particularly with your local chamber of commerce, schools and any organization with a real public relations person. Tell whomever sends the photos that ribbon-cutting and big-check-passing is only interesting to the folks in the photo. Tell him you want to show the excitement generated by the new gym or restaurant. Tell him to try to get the chef preparing a meal or a personal trainer spotting a weightlifter instead of a bunch of people staring at the camera.

Who knows? They might even listen.

Clay

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