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How to create media friendly photos

Setting up photo opportunities where you invite other people to take photos (e.g. local photographers, newspaper reporters)

August 2013

Show it in action! If it’s about an activity (sport, gardening, dancing etc.) then have somebody ready to demonstrate the activity – like Ramsey did here with their mobile skate park. Or like Dewsbury Moor did here with their mini-rugby.


Show who’s involved. If there’s a group involved make sure everyone can turn up. That way the photos will show the kinds of people involved in Big Local, and we’re sure everyone in this photo from Rastrick went and told their friends and family to read the article too.

Have good quality images of your Big Local logo to give out so it can be featured alongside any photos – like Whitley Bay do here. Logos are good for making text look more interesting. Putting your Big Local stamp on it also gives people something for people to recognise.

Names, ages, and roles. Where you have lots of people locally all willing to have their photo taken then make sure you have all their details to hand – names, ages, how they are connected to Big Local. This Kent newspaper used lots of photos from a mobile farm visit arranged by Chatham Big Local to provide free activities for children and families. But for every photo the newspaper will have needed names, ages and a bit of background (plus photo consent too).

When you or someone else from your Big Local group is taking the photos themselves then think about all of the above plus…

  • Use the best camera you have, and the person best at using it!
  • Get written permission in advance from everyone (or their parent/carer) - it’s difficult to do afterwards. You can use an A4 sheet with names and signatures saying ‘photos OK’ and letting people know how the photos will be used. For example:
  • “For use in publicity material produced by [insert your Big Local area’s name], including printed publications, social media and our websites.”
  • “For use in publicity material we send out about our work, including photographs, to the news media, including the local and national press.”
  • …Alternatively you can use a photo consent form template from the Local Trust website ...
  • Use the flash so faces don’t end up shadowed, especially indoors or on cloudy days
  • Smile - unless you want the kind of photo showing people angry or upset about something (like potholes or food poisoning!)
  • Newspapers need to see faces – watch out for faces covered by shadows, or hidden behind hats or long fringes
  • Tell the story with the photo - e.g. if you held a great event with lots of people, get a photo of the event at the busiest part of the day, not just the people who organised it, or the preparations before it got busy
  • Big Local is a people story so the main subject of the photo needs to be people (not empty buildings or parks or minibuses!)
  • Newspaper photos can end up small – if you get in close then faces will be recognisable even when the photo is reduced down
  • For the same reason try to get everyone wearing bright, light-coloured clothes – grey, black or brown clothes don’t print well especially if the paper is printed in black and white
  • …and if someone doesn’t want their photo for whatever reason then don’t take it. They can always get involved by taking the photos instead!

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