May '19

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16 THE SHOP MAY 2019 as showcasing your knowledge, skill level and experience. When shooting tech photos, make the activity the star of the photo. Get close enough to clearly see the work being done, yet zoomed-out enough to know what you're looking at. Take more than just one photo of each step, so if one is out of focus, there are backups that are in focus. Again, good lighting will help with photo clarity. Take a few test photos and make sure the area of activity is in focus and clearly seen. Cameras tend to focus on whatever's closest. For example, if taking a photo of adjusting something, make sure the camera is focused on your hand with the tool and not your arm reaching in. Taking progress photos or video can add hours to a task. Know this going in and plan for it. It's tempting to skip a few steps when documenting a process, but don't. Have a clipboard or notebook and write down each step as you're working. Jot down notes and tips you think of. Also, take a group photo of the tools and materials being used. If possible, know the photo count for the article and plan the photos in advance. Make it easy for the tech writer to under- stand every aspect of the task and clearly convey it to readers. This way, readers will know why your shop is an expert at this kind of work. ORGANIZING PHOTOS This is another area where it's tempting to use shortcuts. Take the time to make sure the media outlet gets the most effective and best-quality photos. Do not direct writers or editors to use photos on Facebook or Instagram. Face- book resizes photos and the end result is usually a photo that is too small for print publication. Meanwhile, Instagram photos are not downloadable. Sometimes a shop will direct writers to a gallery on its website with hundreds of photos. Editors and writers will give you parameters of what they are looking for. Help them narrow down the options to a manageable number, say 30 to 40 max. The editor or art director will choose the best ones from there. And if you want to use photos that are on your website, make sure the size is big enough (there's that pesky dpi again). One way to be prepared and ahead of the game when taking photos is to load them into a file on your computer directly from the memory card or phone on a regular basis. Organize them according to subject and date. Then, when you get the call, you can quickly go through the photos, pick the ones you want and make them available. WAYS TO SEND IN PHOTOS Always attach photos to an email. Do not embed or insert photos in an email. Also, don't attach a PDF with the photos. They usually aren't useable or add extra steps for the news outlet. Because you're sending in larger-format photos, don't send too many at once. If emailing, break them up into separate emails. Sometimes servers will auto- matically shrink photos if the overall file size of the email is too large. You can also use a file-sharing server like WeTransfer or Dropbox. WeTransfer is free and easy to use. Log onto the site and upload the photos or files you want to send along with the email of the person. The person then goes to the site and down- loads them. Dropbox is similar. Sign up and get a free Dropbox account and upload the photos into your account. Dropbox allows you to share the photos with someone else and that person can then download the files. Other options for sending in photos are to put them on a flash drive or burn them to a CD/DVD and mail them. WORKING WITH JOURNALISTS Find out exactly what they need. Ask them the photo count. Work with them. Do not procrastinate. When the journalist contacts you, reply immediately, even if it's to say that you're very busy and will get back to them later. Then be sure to follow through. Let them know you are still interested. They might think you're not and move on to another option. Writers, of course, have deadlines. If you receive a questionnaire, take the time to answer the questions in detail. Sure, your shop is crazy-busy. But think about it—how much time do you spend on mar- keting and social media? Remember, this is a chance to reach out to clients, sponsors and other media outlets, and the word spreads. A video producer might read your article and find your shop a good fit for a TV project, for example. You never know when the right person will see that one article, so make it the best it can be. JOANN BORTLES is an award- winning custom painter, air- brush artist, welder/fabricator, tech writer and photojournalist with over 30 years of experi- e n c e i n t h e a u t o m o t i v e industry. She is the author of seven books on automotive, motorcycle and custom painting. Her work has been featured in numerous automotive and motorcycle publications, NBC News, The Today Show, MuscleCar TV and Motor City Masters. JoAnn owns Crazy Horse Custom Paint. What not to do! There are multiple things wrong with this photo that shows grinding a spot weld. The angle is bad and the grinder is blocking the view of the work area. It's also blurry and badly framed. Note the blurry edge of the door opening. There's too much going on in this photo. We picked a photo taken in a different area of the car. This is a much better ex- ample of grinding a spot weld. The photo is simple and direct. The work area is clearly seen and in focus.

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