You know the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Great photos help your audience connect with your mission, help donors understand what their donations can do, and help volunteers visualize themselves doing a job. In a previous post, I offered some suggestions about how to make effective photos. But what if you already have a library of nonprofit photography? How do you know if you are using the right photographs? (And by “right,” I mean the most compelling and effective photographs you can use to further your goals.)
Here are some things to consider when you ask if the photographs your organization is using are the most effective and compelling ones.
- Does the image illustrate with the language written on the page/post/materials? (Pro tip: If the copy has been written before the photos have been made, share that with the photographer! It helps us make a photo that goes along with the story.)
- Will a non-expert see what you want them to see? If not, how can you change the photo to make it more relatable, understandable, and to connect better with your audience? As an example, I recently photographed a team of scientists who don’t typically wear lab coats when doing their research. However, lab coats = scientists for many in the general public. So we asked them to wear lab coats after all. This, we concluded, would help non-experts see what we want them to see.
- Is the subject looking at the camera? When using a portrait for a donor profile, an annual report, or a fundraising appeal it’s most effective if the subject is looking at the camera. This allows them to “make eye contact” with the viewer and helps the viewer relate to the photograph more deeply.
- Are there too many people in this picture? The people viewing your materials are looking for a connection with the images. Images that are too busy, have too many people, too many faces, and too much going on are much harder to connect with. Having fewer people in the photograph also allows for the photograph to be cropped tighter on the individuals’ faces and expressions, which always makes for a better connection.
- Is there a photo with people and not just objects? If not, can we somehow include people in the photographs of objects, in order to make a better connection with our audience? Even when I was making photographs for a walking tour of Boston, I found that photographs of landmarks were more resonant when there were people somehow incorporated into the photo.
It’s important to be strategic when choosing images since pictures are among the first things your viewer will notice when they scan your materials. If you’re considering investing in professional photography for your nonprofit, or need help reviewing the images you already have, please contact me so that we can talk about your goals and strategize the make the best and most compelling images possible.