Prior to the development of digital cameras, photographs had to be taken using regular film cameras, developed, and then scanned into digital format. The digital camera eliminates the middle steps and instantly provides photographs in digital (JPEG) format to the PC.

Digital color photographs are very useful in a proposal and may include the following items:

  • Bidder’s facilities (offices, manufacturing plants, operations facilities, etc.)
  • Bidder’s manufacturing operations (production lines/equipment, computer rooms, etc.)
  • Bidder’s equipment to be used on the proposed contract
  • Bidder’s products (or photos of services to be performed)
  • Bidder’s key personnel

I have actively used digital color photography in proposals over the past several years. I formerly used the client’s camera, or if they did not have one, rented one. Because of complications in obtaining a quality camera, learning new systems, low resolution, etc., I finally determined that, as a proposal manager, it was important that I have my own quality camera.

Because of my use of digital cameras on past proposals, I knew what I needed, which included the following features: Zoom lens and capabilities of taking wide angle, telescopic, and close-range pictures High-resolution photographs (at least two megapixels) Small and lightweight for easy transport around the country.

After reading all reviews and specifications of most available digital cameras, I selected the Olympus C-2020 Zoom Digital Camera as the best choice for proposal digital photography. This camera has a resolution of 2.11 megapixels; an 8-element f 2.0-2.8 3x zoom lens (35-105mm equivalency); and a digital telephoto zoom for the equivalent of a 260mm lens. It will take close-up photos at a range as short as 8 inches, and using a combination of both the mechanical optical lens, zoom (3X) and a digital zoom (2.5X), it will take virtually microscopic photos (7.5X). The camera is totally automatic (lens, shutter speed, flash, etc,) and can be instantly used by an amateur right out of the box. If desired, all features can be set manually for a wide variety of special effects. One nice feature is that photographs can be instantly reviewed through a LCD viewfinder and unwanted images can be erased.

I also determined certain digital camera extras that I would need for proposal work. These extras included a 32 MB Smart Card (holds approximately 64 super high-resolution photos), a Smart Card Reader that allows quick transfer of photos to a PC, and a carrying case. All other needed peripherals and software comes with the camera. The camera plus all extras came to less than $900.00. I found the best deal on the Internet through a recommended on-line dealer, (

Software (and cabling) for downloading into a PC comes with the camera. This software also allows the application of some digital special effects for modifying and cropping images. For special advanced enhancements such as overlays, combinations, and advanced special effects, a program such as Adobe Photoshop may be used. Make sure that your graphics specialist and/or proposal coordinator is familiar with the use of this software. Although modifying photographs with special enhancements is an art, simply cropping them and inserting them into MS Word is rather simple; it’s no different than inserting any other graphic.

For publishing a proposal containing digital photographs, use a high-speed color printer with a minimum color resolution of 600 dots per inch. On a recent proposal, I found that a HP Color Laser 4500 worked very well for publishing a document that contained extensive color photographs. This model printer can be rented from most PC rental firms. Unless you have a very high-resolution color copier, you may find it necessary to make all the required proposal copies as originals on the printer. Color graphic proposals may also be processed at professional copy-printing firms such as Kinko’s. They have all the equipment on hand to successfully publish even the most sophisticated proposals.

Purchasing this camera has proven a significant benefit and paid for itself on the first proposal on which I used it. I reviewed all the clients operations (including other current contracts) that related to the proposal topics, and took more than 150 digital photographs (client operations, facilities, key personnel, etc.). Of these, more than 40 photos ended up in the proposal including several combinations and overlays for special effects, proposal covers, etc. The client’s CEO stated that the proposal was the best-looking proposal he had ever seen.