A bad photo paints a thousand words

I’m not going to reproduce that bad photo of Theresa May – she gets enough publicity from this blog. You know the one, she’s sitting on her own in Europe and there are flowers on the table and she’s looking miserable. I don’t own the copyright so wouldn’t post it here even if I wanted to.

The truth of the photo is here; she was not alone in the room, just the first to sit down. The snapper then did his job and put a telling picture together.

The infamous pics of Ed Miliband eating a bacon sandwich are likewise covered by copyright but most readers will be familiar with them. People my age might remember when the then prime minister John Major visited Split in Croatia; he was going through an “interesting” time with his cabinet, and photographers took great pleasure in snapping him near the place name, “Split”.

Watch where you stand

I’ve seen many examples of poorly-judged photographs in the business world, too. The CEO who had a fountain in the grounds of his operation, so wanted (I guess) to be pictured near it. The photographer had the idea that the guy should be looking backwards over his shoulder over the camera, with his hands casually in his pockets; the resulting angle and water from the fountain made it look as though he was doing a massive wee. Less juvenile but no less unfortunate is the sheer number of pics taken at exhibitions in which vendors are accidentally standing near their competitor’s logo.

I always tell media training delegates to beware of the bad photo. Standing there and looking straight ahead sounds so simple but always, always have a quick glance behind you and consider how it’s going to look. Oh, and do spend three figures on getting something done professionally if you’re providing your own pics; as editor of a magazine I’ve had people sending byline pics done in photo booths (they look terrible and going onto the Web or into print makes them worse) and on one occasion we had to crop out a top hat as the guy was having his picture taken at a wedding.

My own byline pic (you can see it to the left of this text) cost just under three figures and has served me well for a couple of years – other than slightly greyer hair I’m pretty much the same. Magazines, newspapers and the web are visual media – how much care do you take when your image is going out into the world?

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