Creating Effective Newsletters: Tip #2—Using Photos for Maximum Impact

Picture It Perfect

Here’s some helpful suggestions for adding effective photos to your newsletter:

Take your own photos

This can save you thousands of dollars. Hiring photographers, models and renting location sites can be quite costly. So if you are on a tight budget, try taking your own photos.

  • Use employees as models—they love getting photos in print. Tell employees to wear bright clothing. People often have a tendency to dress in black so as to appear thinner. Unfortunately this tends to draw all the color out of the photo especially in a group shot.
  • Color-correct photos and crop for maximum impact.
  • Avoid photos where people have “red-eyes” or adjust with the red-eye feature in Adobe Photoshop or similar image-editing software. Many digital cameras now come with red-eye reduction features. Check the user manual for your camera.
  • Do not use your camera’s date and time stamp. If this is already embedded in the photo, be sure to crop-out this annoying feature before publishing.
  • Use high-resolution photos for printed publications. Be sure to set your camera to the “high-resolution” setting. A resolution of 300 dpi is recommended for high-quality offset lithography. For online publications, a lower setting of 72 dpi is sufficient. We always recommend shooting photos at the highest resolution and then “resing” the image down depending on the usage. You never know when you might later need to use that “perfect shot” for a printed piece.
  • If possible take photos outside for better lighting. Too often fluorescent indoor lighting leaves a yellowish glow to the photo. This is particularly important in office or hospital settings. Surveying the environment before the photo shoot is critical to achieving the best result. You may need extra lighting or a flash bounce to diffuse or soften the lighting.
  • Outline or angle photos to provide visual interest. Use Adobe Photoshop or other image-editing software to knock-out/remove backgrounds behind images.
  • Add borders and crop photos to focus the viewer and provide visual interest. You can also angle photos to create a more dynamic and less boxy newsletter.
  • Avoid photographing people at night events without the proper lighting.
  • Avoid cluttered collages with drop shadows, dark or muddy photos or photos that look like snapshots (unless of course the desired effect is a home-grown, campy theme).
  • Take multiple shots, especially when photographing a group of people. Too often, you get a great shot but one of the participants has their eyes closed or is looking off in the wrong direction.
  • Avoid using too many “posed” shots where too many people are staring at the camera. It is refreshing to include candid shots of people busy at work or caught with their guard down. These look more natural and certainly more believable.

Avoid controversy:

  • Be cognizant of safety issues. For example, if you are creating a newsletter on bicycling make sure that all cyclists are wearing helmets. You don’t want to have to go to the time and expense of redoing a photo shoot. If you are photographing people in a car, make sure that all passengers are wearing their seatbelts.
  • Make sure to get a photo release from all people used as models.
  • Children must have a photo release from a parent or responsible guardian.
  • Whenever possible, stay away from political, religious or violent messages, themes or statements and negative commentary.

Photos should:
–reflect diversity and demographics of your target audience
–reflect the local environment
–put the company’s best foot forward and avoid any negative themes

Incorporating some of these tips will put you on the road to creating the “picture-perfect” newsletter.

Happy photoing! Stay tuned…We will discuss the use of low-cost, stock photography in a future blog post.

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