“I didn’t know they’d shoot that!”: the perils of the wrong location

The perils of the wrong location for filming or photoshoots

We would always encourage our clients to take any opportunity they can to go on camera. From network TV to youtube, it’s a fantastic way to convey your message to a large audience.  If you’re ever in the situation where you’re being interviewed on camera or  having a photoshoot for a newspaper or magazine, it’s worth having a quick look around at the location you’re being filmed or photographed in. Everything that will appear on the resulting image is communicating a message. And if you’re in the shot, that message is going to include you. For example, if the room you’re pictured in is messy – that conveys a message to the audience that you’re messy too.

If you’re invited to do some filming or take part in a photoshoot there’s two possibilities about the suggested location. It will either be suggested by you, or it will be suggested by the journalist, photographer or film crew. There are potential hazards with each.


The advantage of choosing a location you know well such as your home or office is that it feels familiar and is therefore reassuring. The problem comes in that you know it so well, you might be blind to all the small details that a clever journalist or camera operator can pick up on and manipulate. Are there books in the background with subject matter that conflicts with your preferred image? Is there a picture on the wall that has a controversial statement? Is there a bottle of wine lurking in the background when you’re trying to portray a message of sobriety? Are there Christmas decorations up when you’re shooting something that’s going out in February?


teresa may backgroundAll the same problems described above still apply. But there’s one big trap to watch in this environment. The ultimate sin in this sort of  location is being filmed or pictured against an actual written message behind you spelling out something that totally undermines you (see the picture below from Conservative Politician Theresa May who inadvertently is standing in front of a sign spelling ‘a bitter future’ rather than the planned ‘a better future’). It’s not beyond a mean spirited journalist to pull this kind of stunt. A quick glance over the shoulder, or better yet a request to see the shot before you start recording, will avoid this problem every time.


One last note it’s well worth bearing in mind is Skype interviews. They are becoming increasingly common in today’s media in situations where, for example, there’s not time to come into a TV studio or you are appearing on a low budget show or podcast. Three quick tips are 1) make sure you are in a nice light room with minimal shadows on your face, 2) raise the camera to eye level to avoid the camera shooting up your nose 3) tidy up (the amount of messy offices you see in the background of skype interviews on 24 news channels is surprisingly high).

mini interview prep template
Do you have a media interview coming up? Downloading our free Media Interview Preparation Template will really help you focus your thoughts and get you prepared for the interview. Filling it in should take about 10 minutes. If you complete it and return it to us, we will be happy to get back to you ASAP with bespoke tips to help you make the very best impression possible. This is a totally free service.

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