In the world of social media and instant posting of images and videos, is there a place for professional images? Motorsport photographer Adam Prescott explores the importance of using the right image.
Whether you have employed the services of a photographer or you are just starting out and take shots yourself there are a few key things that you should be looking for when taking photos to be used online or for print.
Let’s start with print, for example on a flyer of promotional material – it’s all about the megapixel! Well mostly… without getting too nerdy, megapixel (MP) is the number of pixels the camera’s sensor has – more MP more image data is captured and so the bigger the image is and the better quality it becomes. This is important for print as it limits the physical size a print can be produced without a loss of quality.
So, your new iPhone 7 Plus will produce an image suitable for printing at 9.7 x 14.5 inches with no loss of quality. Most professional cameras above 20 MP and will produce an A0 image without loss of quality as they capture the image data differently. This is what you need to shoot images with for use in the professional print process.
Bearing this in mind, it’s important to work out the size of your promotional items before you shoot. For example, a pit wall vinyl will need a much bigger image than a business card. If in doubt, speak to whoever is producing the items for you and see what resolution, size and format of images they need.
Social media is full of holes, different sizes holes that is! An image hole is a term for the size and shape of how an image is displayed on a particular platform. And no, one size does not fit all.
If you are only posting to one platform then you will get to know what size image will work best, for example, Instagram is square so why not set your phone to square too.
But if you are posting across platforms you may find it easier to use a tool such as Canva which has free templates to help you crop your images to suit the site. If you are using a photographer, tell them what you want to do with the images afterward, most will crop them to the appropriate size in the post production process, and reduce their file size to make them site friendly.
How to choose a photographer
Photographers are strange bunch, to be fair, and I include myself in this!
Currently, there appear to be three types of photographers around. The first who has a specific style and can produce some very stylised images, really capturing the emotion. The second who produce your commercial images, which tend to be very clean and crisp. And the third, I like to call the pretender. These photographers will be found endlessly panning single car shots and then tilting them in Photoshop to 45 degrees – who knew Silverstone had such steep hills!
When looking for a photographer, take a look at their work, does it fit you? Is this the way you want your brand and identity portrayed? Do you just want shots of your car on track to be used in press releases or are you looking for more emotion? Look also at galleries from other race series on the photographer’s website, are all the images the same? Are there endless galleries of similar shots or is there a small collection of different images? The latter shows the wider talent of a photographer.
Once you have a few short listed, have a chat with them and see if you can speak to other teams or drivers that have used them. It’s important to get a feel for the photographer as a person, especially if they will be with your all season.
Just on a side note; please don’t ask the photographer to work for free in return for publicity. If it is offered to you then ask why as you could be signing a deal that involves a lot of work for sub-standard photography.
What’s the plan?
Have in mind what you want your photographer to do. Just asking them to ‘take some pictures’ is not a plan! Do you want driver shots, the car on track, in the pits, behind the scenes etc.? Remember, your photographer may have another client at the same meeting, or be covering a different series. If you have a plan and stick to it, it’ll make it easier for everyone.
Once the images are captured what do you want to do with them? This has a bearing on how images are taken. Will they be cropped down for social media, used for print or sent to the press? Do you just want the RAW file to have them edited separately or do you need editing services too? If you are after the stylised look, then let your photographer do this – after all this is why you picked them, isn’t it?
Image is defined as ‘the general impression that a person, organisation, or product presents to the public.’ Remember this is your image, get it right the first time…
Adam runs Prescott Motorsport with his wife Anna, providing photography, editing and website services to the motorsport world. Find out more at Prescottmotorsport.co.uk.