Written By Guest Author Robert Riley
Photography has always been a key element of good PR, and Marc O’Sullivan is one of the most highly regarded PR photographers in Ireland.
Marc’s father was a keen amateur photographer, and he became interested in photography from a very young age. After attending UCD, studying Economics, Marc discovered a photography course was being offer at DIT (now TU, Dublin). He spent three years qualifying before setting out on his career.
A lot of the work that Marc has done over the years has been through word of mouth. Ireland is a small country and in the media industry a recommendation can mean everything. But luck also plays a part, while photographing Tom McGinty (Dublin’s famous “Dice man”), for an Aer Lingus campaign, Marc met his next employer. A woman who was part of the group that was setting up the Big Issue magazine, spotted him cycling through Dublin, carrying the arm of the Statue of Liberty, a photoshoot prop. She was so amused by the sight that she stopped him, discovering her was a photographer, she asked him to interview a job with the Big Issue. Needless to say, Marc got the job and was now a working photographer. “It was a FAS scheme, one issue a month, it wasn’t great”. Everyone starts somewhere.
Marc went on to work for the Collins Agency and put in his time at the Four Courts, chasing photos and competing with other photographers for shots. This is where he would stand outside the courts waiting to get a picture of the accused. There were days when he was standing for 10 hours hoping to just get one shot. In these pre-digital days, he would run back and forth between the photo printers to check he had the right shot. After five years, he decided it was time to go out on his own.
Going it Alone
Having set up his own business, Marc’s reputation grew, and he was soon in demand. He understood that balance of needs between his PR client and the newspapers. His client wanted an image that delivered the brand message, the newspapers wanted newsworthy content and wouldn’t publish images that were overly promotional or heavily branded. It was Marc’s ability to strike this balance that led to his success in having many of his photos published in the media.
Marc talks about his love of portrait photography, and how he works to capture the person at their most natural. Photos that he has taken of such greats as Ronnie Drew and Christy Moore show that he has succeeded in capturing the personality of his subjects.
Photography in 2022
Talking about the change in the industry, Marc believes that PR companies still value having photographs appear in the print media. He talks about the change that social media and smartphone photography has brought to his profession. Marc remarks on how carefully people manage their image now in comparison to his early days, “people are controlling their own image more” and “People taking 50 selfies and only upload one of them.”
Despite the rise of the selfie and the phone photography, Marc believes that the principles of getting a great shot remain the same. People love images and while we are now exposed to thousands online, an interesting visual will always catch people’s attention.
Marc O’Sullivan’s website is definitely worth a visit, a browse through his portfolio is a treat. His photos range from Irish and International celebrity portraits, wildlife images, and the engaging shots that gained him is reputation as one of the most effective PR photographers in Ireland. https://www.marcosullivan.ie/index