Every PR professional knows how useful photography can be. It adds colour, stimulates interest, enhances text – it makes an otherwise boring article a lot more dynamic.
However, take a moment to consider: what about changing the angle or switching the point-of-view? What can we actually learn from the art of taking photographs that could apply to our work?
Having been a photographer myself for ten years, I found these guidelines to be most applicable to PR:
1. It’s all about composition
Knowing how to compose and frame your photograph is perhaps one of the most fundamental and important photography skills. Likewise, identifying your angle is key to good writing. Here are some tips:
a. The rule of thirds here segment the photo into various interesting areas
Good things come in threes. In photography, the rule of thirds helps with balance in the photo, placing strong emphasis at the intersection of the lines.
As any media trainer will tell you, keep to three key messages when making your point.
b. The spiral staircase creates its own sinuous line
When capturing a photograph, leading lines (e.g. roads, bridges, rivers, shorelines) enhance composition by drawing your eye towards a subject of importance as well as creating depth by separating the foreground from the background.
Likewise, good storytelling usually builds toward an overall message, by converging various proof points to a killer message that you want to tell.
c. Watch the spaces
Photography’s rule of spaces help focus a viewer’s attention to the key points of a photo. In the photo above, the juxtaposition of the empty space with the dog creates a narrative within the photo.
Similarly, writing, as an exercise of expression, should also include adequate space (e.g. margins, line spacing/breaks) to allow your content and its readers to “breathe” when reading.
Now more than ever, writing has transformed to include more than just text – visual media is often added to break the flow of text and provide more “breathing space” for readers.
2. Keep focused
In photography, it is crucial to keep your key subject tightly focused, with any supporting detail kept in the background.
Likewise, it is important for writers to maintain their text short, concise and focused.
When you’ve gained the attention of your audience, you can then highlight the out-of-focus areas!
3. What is your message?
Perhaps the most critical of all the skills you’ll need to master is whether you are communicating your message accurately.
Case in point: Two different photographers may look at a scene and take two separate shots, expressing two different perspectives:
But as a communicator, you’ll also need to identify your unique news angle and ensure you express it accurately to stakeholders. So what makes your story more interesting, more provoking, more engaging to the audience?
The writer is Samuel Chee, senior consultant of Weber Shandwick Singapore.