You've heard the expression: a photo is worth a thousand words. Perhaps, the saying should be: A photo is worth a thousand eyeballs, because a good photo can solidify media interest and a bad photo can kill the whole thing.
Here are the three most important things we feel you need to know:
Most writers want a beautiful photo to run with their story.
You'll most likely need a HORIZONTAL photo (though it's good to have a mix including vertical images too just in case).
Shoot large, high resolution images (you can always make these smaller and lower resolution).
Chances are, you use your mobile phone to take pictures. Presuming, this is the case. Start by making sure your resolution is set to the highest setting -- this will allow you to take large, high quality, photos that can be sized down as needed. Not sure how to change your resolution? If you have an iPhone take a look here. If you're on Android, look here.
Newspaper and magazine writers usually want an image that's 300 dpi. DPI technically means Dots Per Image. But what you need to know is that they want a robust image that will print well (not blurry). By setting your resolution high you can make sure you're capturing images at this level.
Digital media (like online sites, social platforms like Facebook, e-newsletters, etc.) want low-resolution images that are 72 dpi; the reason for this is the images load more quickly and are likely to keep readers on the page. By focusing your efforts on capturing high resolution images you're setting yourself up for success because a high resolution image can easily be made into a low resolution image, but a low resolution image cannot be made bigger. Think of it this way: you have a large 8x10 picture sitting in a frame in your home. You can grab a pair of scissors and cut that picture down to 1x1 inch square but you can't make it into a 9x11 image. Make sense?
So, shoot large and then resize accordingly. Here's a website where you can resize images for free. There are many sites like this online you may use. While you're on here, take a peek at this guide to the best image sizes to use on social media, in case you'd like to adjust a photo or two. As a bonus, here's an interview we did with Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography. He had some incredible tips for taking Instagram-worthy pics.
Also, try to shoot more horizontal images than vertical ones, though do keep a mix just in case. Take a look a photo galleries online -- most (if not all) of the time they use horizontal images. Here's a USA Today piece on Spring Break, all the images are horizontal. Here's a T+L story on happiest beach towns -- again, all horizontal.
Lastly, once you have three to five great images, consider creating a free Dropbox account, if you don't already have one. Make one folder with specific high resolution images and another with low resolution of those same images. So, say you created an amazing Honey Ricotta Toast breakfast yesterday and you took a bunch of photos. On Dropbx, you'd create one folder that's called something like: Honey Ricotta Toast HI RES abc Inn and another folder called Honey Ricotta Toast LO RES abc Inn. Then you'd label each photo accordingly and include the photo credit. Maybe: HoneyRicottaToast1_LORES_abcinn_creditJohnSmithPhotohraphy.jpg or HoneyRicottaToast1_HIRES_abcinn_creditJohnSmithPhotohraphy.jpg
The idea is to leave little next-to-no room for error in sharing your images with a reporter. We keep the Dropbox app on our phones and as needed create a link to share the images with reporters. We also load the press release (even though it's in a Word document) into the folder so that the reporter has everything they need for our client in one place and we can send it on-the-go.
It's important to have good images and it's just as important to have a good response rate. If you're not prepared, the writer needs to move on. So, stay ready -- in multiple shapes and sizes. You never know when it's time for your close up.