The communications team at West Sussex County Council
This week I ran a training session for West Sussex County Council at County Hall in Chichester. Like many organisations today, the WSCC communications team want to be able to take some of their own photos for internal publications and press releases.
We started the day with a short presentation and discussion about what makes a good press or PR photo. This is stuff that I think anybody in communications or public relations can benefit from, whether they are planning to take their own pictures or setting up photo calls and commissioning other photographers.
Somebody had provided the team with a nice Nikon DSLR and one of the group, Kim, had brought in her own Pentax for the day. After running through the main camera settings the team split into two groups, with a camera each, and we went out for a shooting session in a local park. I gave them a short list of photos to cover, a mix of groups and portraits, and they set off to explore ideas and locations. Later we came back to County Hall to review the photos. There were some good shots and, I have to say, some slightly strange ones too (See flasher in the park photo below). I’m sure it was all a valuable part of the learning process!
In the afternoon we talked about the more technical side of digital photography. I was a bit concerned that apertures, shutter speeds and ISOs might be a turn off for some people but in fact everybody seemed quite interested. I think learning basic exposure and metering techniques are essential if you want to progress beyond taking the occasional lucky snap. Even if you’re going to keep your camera set on ‘auto’, knowing how these things work can help you avoid some of the more common mistakes. After the techy bit we had just enough time for another outdoor shooting session and review before the end of the day.
Lots of points came up during the practical sessions. If I was to pick one way of making instant improvements it would be to encourage people to get closer to their subjects, there’s always a tendency to stay too far back. This is a natural thing to do, as you don’t usually want to intrude into someone else’s personal space, but for a press photo you sometimes need to move right in to get some impact into your shot. If your subject starts to complain that there’s a camera up their nose, then you’ve probably got it about right.
I learned a few things from the day as well, i.e. I was probably going through some explanations a bit too quickly. It’s difficult, when you only have a day, to cover everything, but covering a few things clearly is probably better than overloading with too much information.
Thanks to Liz, Kelly, Kim, James, Jackie, Nic and Dave for coming. Hope you enjoyed it and learned something useful. For anyone interested in booking a similar photography training day please get in touch using the contact page here or on the main website.
A few shots from the day: