This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cornwall based photographer Paul Richards of PR4Photos. Paul is based in just outside Truro. His photography assignments take him all over Cornwall and the entire South West of England. Paul is an exceptionally good photographer and his solid experience is manifested in his photographic work. I was curious to know more about his path as a professional photographer and he kindly answered a few questions.
I started my photography as a hobby, joining a local photographic club. That quickly escalated to me going to study photography in Bristol. After qualifying, I got a job, working with another photographer in Truro. That’s where I really learnt how to be a professional photographer. I was thrown into the deep end as a local newspaper photographer, and this gave me the grounding needed for everything else that came afterwards. After ten years, I left, and started my own business, PR4Photos, offering photography to local and national businesses, and PR companies. I quickly became one of the leading photographers in my geographical area.
I wouldn’t say there are any main photographers that have inspired me in the field of photography I do. I do like the work of Zack Arias, Ansel Adams, and Joel Grimes.
Almost always away from home. I could be shooting food in a restaurant, portraits at a business, or flying a drone on the top of a hill.
Ones where I am given free reign. And my clients rely on the fact that they can give me a brief, and I can fly with it, rather than the client having to be looking over my shoulder all the time. Some of the most enjoyable shoots for me have been Royal visits, where I am photographing the Royal visitors on tours of the local area.
A good brief is concise, and clear as to what is needed from a photoshoot, whether that be images needed for a press release or images for a website. A lot of these briefs are loose, and I have a lot of leeway in how to interpret it, to create images that, I feel, will work best for the client. That’s the type of brief I like working to and clients get the best images from.
Some briefs dictate everything from angles, lighting, focal length, cropping, etc. While I understand some brands have guidelines, these can be so restrictive and I know I could create better images for them. If I deviate from their tight brief the images would be rejected. It’s ultimately such clients who are losing out.
I don’t tend to work with publications directly, instead working with clients who then supply publications. As such, my images are regularly published all over the world. And the same with brands. I tend not to work directly with them.
My work has been featured in all the major newspapers. I have also been used by the likes of Tesco, Openreach, Renault UK, Persimmon Homes, and Scottish Power directly. However, much of my work comes through national PR companies, and those images are then used by brands, and published worldwide – often without me seeing where those images are used. That’s why it’s a difficult question, as I very often don’t see where my images end up.
One that an editor sees, and wants to use. If they don’t want to use it, you have failed in your objective. It has to be eye-catching. It’s that simple.
Editorial comment: For context, PR photos are often sent to journalists and editors as part of a press release or press pack. Eye-cathcing photos can help PR agencies and clients get their stories run in newspapers and magazines. Editors want to publish them because they look good in their publication and engage their audiences and the clients get the PR exposure they want. And that is the power that a great PR photo can have.
Patience, I think, is the big one here. I see a lot of press photographers boss people around, to the point of rudeness. And I can understand why – they have tight deadlines. A PR photographer doesn’t have those time constraints normally, and I have learned that patience often brings out the best in the client. So although I direct people, I do it in a much more gentle manner.
Probably subconscious. When I am in the middle of a shoot, my years of experience allow me to work without thinking about techniques etc. It's all second nature to me. When I actually think about it, what I apply in a shoot, it would be very difficult, if not impossible for a beginner to fathom.
I don’t shoot a huge excess of images. If I am photographing an event, I probably lose about a third of the images, and that’s only because I have shot extras, just in case of closed eyes etc.
Have a clear idea of what they would like from a photoshoot, and discuss that with me. I can then create a photoshoot that they need.
I hope you've enjoyed this interview and accompanying images. You can view more of Paul’s PR photography on his Photographerforhire.co.uk page and on his website PR4Photos.co.uk
Written by Odi Caspi