One good picture is worth a thousand words…

Here are our top tips for taking good pictures for publications.

1. The best news stories are about people

Even if it’s a story about a church building project, a picture of the building alone won’t do. You need people in the foreground.

2. Props and visual aids help

Is there someone who can hold something or point to something that gives the story meaning? Try to avoid dull pictures of people standing in rows.

3. What are people going to wear?

It helps if the vicar wears their collar. Do the choir need to robe or the uniformed organisations come dressed for the part? This will all add colour.

4. Can you muster a crowd?

This shows that people care.

5. What about facial expressions – are they appropriate?

Are the people smiling if it is good news? Do they look appropriately solemn if it’s bad news? Think about the message of the story.

6. Be assertive

Don’t be afraid to direct people to get the picture you want. It’s much better to spend a few minutes longer and end up with a useable picture.

7. Do shirts need tucking in or ties straightening?

Check for any distractions in the background. Does any furniture need moving, curtains drawing etc?

8. Try unusual angles

For example, using a step ladder to look down on a crowd may make photographing a large group of faces easier.

9. Take loads of pictures before choosing the best one

With digital images, you can afford to be extravagant. Even after you have a great picture, try to get a better one.

10. Keep talking to the people you are photographing

Maintain their interest in getting a really great shot of the event.

11. Identify people

Get names of everyone, spelt correctly, and identified left to right. Always check that parents are happy to have pictures of their children in the paper.

12. You need to take digital images

Snaps taken on a phone are unlikely to be good enough quality for reproduction in a paper or magazine, so use a camera. Avoid manipulating the digital image if at all possible.

13. Wide angle lenses work best

News photographers use a wide angle lens in order to put the people concerned into their setting. This keeps everything in focus, whilst allowing close up views of people and small items. “Wide” means at least the equivalent of 28mm on a 35mm camera. Journalists often use 20mm and wider lenses. Some compact cameras accept wide-angle converters.

14. Using a flash

Using a fill-in flash can help to draw attention to foreground items and people. Practice using different amounts of flash so that you can do this quickly. Choose the best result later.