Being a nonprofit marketer or communicator usually means helping out with all aspects of your organization, including photography. Fortunately, it doesn’t take an expert’s experience or equipment to take great photographs. Here are five tips that can help you get the best shots possible and capture your nonprofit as you want it to be seen:

1. Plan ahead

Whether you are photographing an event or day-to-day happenings at your nonprofit, it’s always important to be prepared. Be sure to think ahead and ask yourself a few key questions. What photos do you absolutely have to take? What moments do you want to capture? Reference your editorial calendar for ideas. If you’re holding an event, this blog post from Forte Events provides great examples of photos you should plan to take.

2. Take more than you think you need

You’ve planned ahead and know which photos to take, but don’t stop there! Take a lot more, even if you’re not sure when or how you’ll use them. As nonprofit marketers and communicators, we’re always re-purposing content. You never know when a photo you took a few months ago will make a great addition to your current project.  I put this into practice on a regular basis. My nonprofit offers job training and employment services to individuals with disabilities. As part of our pre-vocational training program, our clients perform different subcontract jobs for area businesses.  I make sure to take lots of photos each time we start a new job. The photos are great for a quick social media update or news story, but I’ve also used them in things like brochures and event slideshows.

3. Go beyond the obvious

It’s a moment I’ll never forget. I was fresh out of college and working my first full-time job at a newspaper. One of my first assignments was to interview a couple whose house had just been hit by a car for the second time. It was a great story, but it didn’t make the front page. The only reason? I took photos of the house and the accident scene, but didn’t include the homeowners in any of them. I forgot to go beyond the obvious, and lost out on a huge opportunity. Don’t let the same happen for you. Get creative. You know what you should be shooting, but how else can you capture it? What else can you include to make the photo interesting?

4. Take posed and candid shots

Photos are a great way to showcase the personality of your nonprofit. In order to do so, you have to capture both the human element and the true spirit of your organization. Posed photos allow you to share the faces, or human element, of what you do. Candid photos bring out the spirit that’s connected to those faces. During my organization’s annual event each December, we celebrate the holidays and distribute awards to staff and clients. We take posed photos of every award recipient, but also take candids during the event, through which our clients’ personalities really show. Both types of photos are extremely valuable to our marketing and communications.

5. Don’t be shy!

It’s not always fun to be the photographer. Sometimes you have to get up-close-and-personal to get the best shot. If you’re too shy, you risk losing a personal connection in your photos, as Jeff Jones explains in this guest post for Kivi Leroux Miller’s Nonprofit Communications Blog. The way I see it, most people who attend nonprofit events or functions expect a photographer to be there, and understand that the photographer will be actively taking photos. That attitude may come from my experience as a reporter, where my job included taking publication-worthy photos for my stories. Either way, your comfort level can only increase with practice, so get out there and try it! And if using your own smartphone makes you feel better, here’s a list of tips from TechSoup’s Interactive Events and Video Producer Alexandra Bezdikian to help you out.

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Kelly Rembold

Kelly Rembold

Marketing Specialist at Lark Enterprises, Inc.
Kelly Rembold is a nonprofit marketing and communications professional with a passion for storytelling. She is the sales and communication director at Kon-O-Kwee Spencer YMCA, a year-round YMCA camp in Fombell, PA, that offers summer programs, group retreats, and environmental education. Kelly has a background in journalism, and has previously worked as a reporter and editorial assistant for newspapers in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Kelly Rembold
Kelly Rembold