December 18, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Josh Hallett Shares Photography Tips

Josh Hallett Shares Photography Tips

joshhallett.jpgRecently, [Josh Hallett](http://www.hyku.com) of [Voce Communications](http://www.vocecommunications.com/) spent a few minutes to talk to me about tips for communicators who may be interested in getting started with or improving their digital photography. It follows the [article](http://mediabullseye.com/mb/2008/01/is-a-picture-worth-a-thousand.html) he wrote for *Media Bullseye* last week where he explained the value of photographs to social media communications.
([Click here to listen to the 21 minute interview.](http://mediabullseye.com/mb/mp3/mb-hallett-2008-01-18.mp3))
“Stability of the camera” is one of the biggest things that photographers should consider, he says. Whether you have a high-end D-SLR or a typical point-and-shoot, put it on table, balance it on a post, or use a small tripod and you will see better results.
In event photography, light quality can be a serious issue. Taking pictures of speakers, in particular, often end up blurry because the camera stays open too long to get enough light to take a picture. That’s a weakness particularly of point-and-shoots and something that you should consider when trying to take quality photographs.
Josh actually started with a point-and-shoot (a Nikon Coolpix) and he doesn’t frown on them at all. In fact, he has a great tip for folks who use them: Google for settings for that camera for the situations you have trouble with. For instance, if you want low-light advice, search for “Nikon Coolpix AND low light.”
As you move up from point-and-shoot, D-SLR (digital single lens reflex) offers more options. The biggest downside, according to Hallett, is that the so-called “kit lens” that comes with the camera typically isn’t very good. Instead, Josh recommends a 50 mm “prime” lens (prime is what you call a lens that doesn’t zoom in and out to different distances). Both Canon and Nikon make affordable 50 mm lenses at f1.4 or f1.8 that enable quality shooting in low-light situations (as well as well-lit rooms, of course).
“I don’t use a flash for any of my shots,” Hallett says, because he does a lot of event photography and it can be very distracting at such venues (not to mention not all that helpful for distance shots. “If a person is 100 feet away and you use flash, it’s going to be useless.”
Josh spends some time talking about some of the lenses he uses personally, and he notes that he focuses primarily on lenses that are at least f2.8 (the lower the number, the better, especially for low-light situations). When it comes to prime vs. zoom, Josh is pretty happy with his 70-200mm zoom. Of course, other photographers extol the virtue of primes, but that can become more expensive.
The lenses are more important than the body, in Hallett’s view. The “glass” as photographers often refer to lenses, last longer than most bodies, so they are worth a greater investment. When it comes to Canon vs. Nikon, Josh says that both are fine. Everyone will develop a preference, but it seems to be related to what they first bought. Once you start buying lenses, you will probably stick with that brand.
Once the photographs are in the camera, Josh started out using iPhoto for the Mac and did little image processing, simply managing the photos he took and uploading them to Flickr. Today, he shoots in RAW format rather than the more common JPEG. RAW is basically what it sounds like – raw data from the camera that enables more flexibility in software processing. The downside is they are much larger and do usually need a bit of processing, but the value is that you can correct for mistakes at the time you took the picture more easily. For instance, it enables you to compensate for over- and under-exposure to some degree. For software, he uses Adobe Lightroom today which provides a broad toolset for manipulating RAW photographs.
When you upload to photo-sharing sites like Flickr, Josh advises careful tagging so that others can find your photographs easily. For instance, he notes that many of his pictures get used by others, including one he took of Karen Hughes last year just the week before she announced she was leaving the State Department.
“Making sure you’ve always got your camera and making sure you’re taking lots of photos,” is perhaps the best advice Hallett can offer to budding photographers. With the cost of memory cards so low these days, it becomes easier to keep shooting. “It’s about a quarter of what I shoot” that is actually worth uploading, he told me.
For more advice, Josh recommends reading [Thomas Hawk’s blog](http://www.thomashawk.com/), watching Robert Scoble’s [photowalking series](http://www.podtech.net/scobleshow/category/photowalking) with Hawk, and simply asking others in social media who take a lot of pictures, including folks like him and [David Parmet](http://www.parmet.net/pr/). He says that people in social media are generally willing to answer questions, so you shouldn’t be afraid to ask. “Just ask … we all love talking about our cameras.”
([Click here to listen to the 21 minute interview.](http://mediabullseye.com/mb/mp3/mb-hallett-2008-01-18.mp3))
*Photo by [Shel Israel](http://www.flickr.com/photos/shelisrael/1587800069/)*

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About The Author

Chip Griffin is the Founder of CustomScoop. He writes and speaks frequently about data-driven public relations. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChipGriffin.

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1 Comment

  1. tris.hussey@gmail.com'
    Tris Hussey

    Awesome tips! Now I have to start shopping for a prime lens. I always love Josh’s pics of speakers. I keep trying to replicate them, but I think my glass is the barrier. Though I have telephoto that is pretty fast.
    On processing, I shoot RAW and JPEG (large). I do this so I can upload right to flickr and then retouch too. For software I’m loving ACDSee’ Pro 2. Got an NFR license from them, it’s cheaper than Lightroom, but has all the power (IMHO). Sorry, Windows only.

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