Snapshots Using photography in communications

Photography helps people relate to those benefiting from funding and gives them an idea of the impact social investment work is making. Pranill Ramchander notes that while budgetary constraints might be an issue, using visual communications, whether photographic or video, boosts the efficacy of communication efforts and assists in cutting through the clutter.

Rene Vosloo of Discovery has also found that one of the best ways to integrate the company’s corporate social investment efforts into Discovery’s integrated report most effectively is to improve the quality of the photographs used.

Visual communication can also add credibility; it demonstrates that the work advertised is actually being done. Visual communication is a key component of showing a commitment to accountability and transparency.

Keep the following in mind when using photography:

Liaise with the community. Before any photographer enters a community, the relevant people in that community must be asked for their consent and input, including things like what times are most suitable, where photographs should be taken, and whether there are any people who would prefer not to be photographed. Consider drafting a media release form and getting consent from people who are photographed to use the images publicly. Also be aware of safety and privacy concerns. For example, Qhubeka Foundation only uses first names for children, not surnames, and does not publish location information.

Be clear about expectations and capabilities. Social investors should have a clear idea of what the purpose of the photographs will be and where they are likely to appear. Photographs for a website are often composed differently from those taken for a coffee table book. It’s also important to share with grantees how the photos will be used. Someone might be happy to be featured in a programme brochure, but not on Facebook, for example.

Don’t use photography inappropriately. Social investors shouldn’t use photographs of extreme poverty or squalor to create shock or to guilt people into making donations. Such “poverty pornography” must be avoided and discouraged. Any use of branding in photographs should also be carefully considered and not overemphasised.

Make visuals available to grantees. This builds their own communications capacity, and strengthens the fundergrantee relationship.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by GrantCraft using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Communication That Counts.