Mandy Collins & Associates

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Help! They asked for a picture!

If you are quite senior in your organisation, or a young mover and shaker, at some point you might be asked to be part of an editorial feature in a print publication. These days, many newspapers and magazine have cut back on costs wherever they can, and often people they interview are asked to supply a picture of themselves to go with the story.

This can cause a fair amount of panic if you’re not lucky enough to have had a professionally shot picture done for you by your company. And that selfie your best friend WhatsApped to you last week definitely won’t do the job – and not just because it’s a picture of you downing a bottle of champagne at a very muddy music festival.

The trouble with these kinds of pictures is that while they look fine on social media, their resolution is far too low for the requirements of printing presses. Print publications need high-resolution images, and will ask, usually for a picture that has a minimum of 300 dpi (dots per inch) , which refers to the number of physical dots per inch of printing. Another way to gauge if your picture’s resolution is high enough is to look at the file size – you want something that is at least 1MB in size.

Luckily for you, most people have either their own smartphone, or access to a colleague’s smartphone. And most smartphone pics are good enough for this kind of picture. Here’s what you need to do.

1 Rope in someone to play photographer.

2 Find an attractive background somewhere in your company – a striking wall in reception, or a boardroom will usually do the trick.

3 Place yourself in that area, but don’t just stand with your arms at your side. Perch on the corner of the boardroom table, or sit in an armchair in reception, perhaps. Find a pose that feels comfortable and natural, or you’ll look awkward in the picture. And angling your body slightly usually works better than facing the camera squarely. Also place yourself slightly off-centre in the frame – it adds some interest.

4 Check that there aren’t any awkwardly placed pot plants or decor items behind you – you don’t want to look as if you have a Delicious Monster sprouting from your left ear.

5 Watch your body language – you don’t want to stand in the ‘fig leaf’ position with your hands clasped over your crotch. Folded arms can make you seem aggressive. Hands loosely in the lap, shoulders down, ankles crossed at the ankles, resting your chin lightly on one arm – play around with a few poses and see how they come out. (For added authenticity ask your colleague to say, “Work with me!” or “Lovely!” from time to time, while snapping away.)

6 Make sure you don’t lift your chin too high, or drop it too low. You need a nice neutral position for your head.

7 Smile and shoot until you get something you’re happy with that’s well-focused – fuzzy edges won’t do the trick.

It’s not going to be anything like having a professional photographer shooting a picture of you, of course, but you will be able to produce something usable for a smallish print picture. And as an added bonus, if you’re a parent, and your child needs a picture of you for school, you’ll have something ready to go.

And a final pointer – email the picture to the journalist, or send it via Dropbox or WeTransfer or something similar if it’s too big to email so that there’s no loss of resolution.


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