Getting the picture

Gerry le Roux – Owner/photographer for Sciencelens

As the Internet and social media become increasingly ubiquitous the PR and communication landscape is changing at a dizzying pace, and with it the world of visual communication, and photography in particular.

As everyone, from news and current affairs publications to large corporate organisations, continue to embrace social media and an active, responsive online presence, the focus of visual communication is shifting to immediate and up-to-the-minute photographic coverage, with timely and current visuals being the holy grail, often at the expense of visual quality.

In extreme cases, such as the Chicago Sun-Tribune’s controversial reorganisation last year, entire photographic departments have been cut and replaced by freelancers and reporters with iPhones. Citizen journalism is booming, with the public uploading smartphone snaps of news and events to social media and news sites as and when they happen.

In this changing environment, basic photographic competence (even just the ability to take a half-decent photo on your smartphone) is becoming a critical skill for anyone operating in a journalism, communication or PR environment. Journalists and PR professionals often have to double up as photographers, capturing and sharing the visual story as it happens.

This by no means replaces professional photographers who are and will always be responsible for high quality images to illustrate up-market publications and longer form journalism, or to cover high-level events. Rather, it is a much-needed addition to the growing domain of immediate in-the-moment communication, requiring on-the-spot, as-it-happens visual coverage.

In this new visual landscape, communication professionals need to be able to use the tools available, be it a DSLR camera, a digital compact or a smartphone, to capture the best possible image given the constraints of the situation. Composition, angle of view, lighting of the subject, contrast management, perspective – these are all variables that you can control and manipulate to create a better, more striking and more illuminating image.

There’s a brave new world of visual communication out there – are you equipped to make the most of it?

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Gerry le Roux will be presenting the course ‘Photography for PR Professionals’ in Auckland and Wellington in March.

To attend, register now with PRINZ.

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