Published: 26 April 2016

Picture perfect: taking charity photos that pop

A great photo can help tell your charity’s story. We live in a visual world and it’s estimated more than 300 million photos are uploaded to social media every day. A single photograph can often convey much more than words and everyone viewing an image will have their own interpretation of what they see. 

Snapping the best photos for charities

Based on my experience as a photographer for charity clients, here are some tips for taking great photos and briefing photographers before your photoshoot. 

Style 

What style are you after? 
Are the photos destined for a specific project? Are they for a previous campaign? Briefing photographers with information like this can have an impact on the final photos. 

What emotions are you seeking to portray? 
For example, are you looking for serious expressions, candid shots, or eye contact? Talk to your photo subjects to help them relax and take realistic shots. Need them to laugh? Crack a joke. 

Is there a specific colour palette? 
This can be featured through clothes and props during the shoot. The use of colour throughout images can often make a big difference.

Have you thought about clothing? 
Clothing is really important, although it’s rarely considered. Avoid shooting a subject wearing white or black. White can often get bleached out especially when shooting on a sunny day and black can appear quite dull. Wearing vibrant colours will bring the image to life and grab attention.

Location

What’s the lighting like?
It’s always good to have as much information as possible regarding the location for the shoot. Will it be in a small room with little flexibility, or will it be a large room? Will there be lots of natural lighting? 

Are there any distractions to consider?
Will there be other things going on in the vicinity that you need to bear in mind? The more information you have, the more you can plan. Sometimes a photographer will need to bring additional equipment based on the location setting.

Composition

Which individual should be the main focal point? 
This is an important factor when shooting more than one person as this can be key for the images and the purpose of the campaign. For example, with a shoot for the MS Trust, the campaign was about the importance of specialist nurses for the trust so the main focus was on the nurses rather than the patients. 

How should your subjects pose? 
Consider the levels of your subjects. A photographer can adjust their own angle to get a variety of shots which can affect the final image. Should the subjects sit down? It might increase the shots you have to work with. 

How is it going to look when published?
Keep in mind the composition of the pages and format of the publication the images will be featured in. It’s a good idea to give your photographer an example of the layout which they can use as a reference while shooting. If there is something specific that needs to be captured, it’s important to brief the photographer, especially when shooting case studies for charities.

Making your subjects feel comfortable

Within the charity sector people can be vulnerable, may have mental health needs or learning difficulties. Meeting or speaking to people beforehand can help put them at ease and prepare them for the shoot. It’s crucial everyone involved understands what’s going to happen and where the images will be used.

Happy snapping!


Paul Meyler, photographer, Paul Meyler Photographer

Paul is a commercial photographer based in London and works across the UK. He specialises in working with charities, corporate organisations and the public sector and has worked with many charities including Mind, Certitude, Down Syndrome Association, The Who Cares? Trust and Nordoff Robbins. Paul has worked very closely with nim design and its charity clients for a number of years.