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Capturing Our Stories in Pictures: How to Plan & Manage Photography in NPO Communications

A photography plan can help non-profit organizations create compelling and engaging communications materials.Non-profit organizations (NPOs) have great stories to tell about the work they do, the people they do it with and the lives, families, and communities that are changed for the better in the process. Just a few high quality photos can bring these stories to life and make such a difference in an organization’s ability to inform people and to build and maintain relationships with supporters.

If you find yourself struggling to produce the high quality photographs you need for compelling communications materials, you may be in need of a photography plan for your organization. Here are some suggestions to help you plan and manage your imagery.

1.    Describe the type of photographs you need for your materials and how you will use them. If you have a document that describes the organization’s brand voice, draw from it. Here are a few other considerations for your plan.

  • Many non-profit organizations and charities want photos that represent the people they work with and help. For example, if your organization offers sports programs for youth, you may be looking for healthy, happy, athletic young people.
  • You will also need to plan for the photographs you will take to recognize and thank donors, volunteers, staff, and other supporters.
  • Be sure to outline the places you will use your photographs, such as newsletters, brochures, annual reports, websites, and social media accounts.

2.    Make a specific “shot list” for each of the major events you have planned. Write down which people you want to take photos of and if there is anything specific you would like to have them do in the photo. For example, if you would like to get photos of a panel of speakers you’ll want to arrange in advance for them to come early or stay after for the group shot. Natural shots are often best, but if you need props you’ll want to make sure you have them ready.

3.    Deputize your colleagues and volunteers and empower them to help you take and collect the photographs you need. Pass along some resources to make it easier for them. For example, you can share our "Photography Tips for NPO Staff and Volunteers Who Want to Take Great Photos". And supply them with the permission forms they need to get signed by the people in their photos.

4.    Once you have your digital photographs, use professional photo editing software to adjust the light and colour levels and make your final images look great. You can make the image lighter or darker, warmer or cooler. In some cases you may want to apply filters and special effects. Look into the Adobe software donation program to see if you can get a free copy of Adobe Photoshop for your organization.

5.    Supplement your own original photographs with stock photography. Find low-cost royalty free stock photography in easily searchable sites such as the istockphoto service.

6.    Bring in the professionals when you can. If you can invest in a professional photographer it will pay off. Here are several ways to find a good one.

7.    Set up a system to store and organize your photographs so you can access them quickly when you need them. You can use digital photo sharing sites to store and share your photos. Flickr is one of the most popular sites.

Armed with these ideas and resources, I hope you will find it easier to bring your stories to life through photography. If you found this article helpful, please share it with others that might benefit from it.

I would to have your feedback, and please feel free to share your own photography tips, links and resources in the comments. I look forward to learning together!

Download an expanded version of this article with more tips and details, in a printable PDF document.


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    Response: summarize my paper
    Thanks for the advice on how to plan and manage photo in NCB communications. These tips are very wonderful keep it up. Thank you.
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    Capturing Our Stories in Pictures: How to Plan & Manage Photography in NPO Communications - Public Relations for Nonprofits - Karen Luttrell Communications

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