Made you smile, right? Water.org’s photo of Indian schoolchildren celebrating fresh drinking water truly grabs the viewer. It’s spontaneous. It’s exuberant. And it’s a newspaper art director’s dream photo.
As the person who has overseen how The Chronicle looks for more than 20 years, I should know.
All nonprofits yearn for more and better media coverage. Your charity may have the most innovative or successful or tear-jerking story, but without photos, many news-media outlets won’t give that story good placement—especially in the digital age.
I know, I know—not every organization has the built-in cachet of cute kids or dramatic events. But any organization can take good photos.
For instance: Although the mission of Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children is hard to show, especially because of restrictions on identifying kids in pictures, this photo captures the essence of the group’s work.
Michelle Gienow’s recent article for The Chronicle has great advice on the hows and whys of getting good photos for your organization. As Dara Royer, executive director of communications at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s fund-raising arm, told Ms. Gienow: “Few donors will be able to ever actually walk through the doors at St. Jude. But photography provides a window into our mission the way nothing else in a communicator’s tool kit can. It creates a direct connection.”
Habitat for Humanity International has always made it a priority to take great photos depicting its work building homes for low-income people—beautiful shots of volunteers hammering, raising 2-by-4s, and painting. Last year, the group photographed a series of new homeowners, capturing their elation.
All of the above photos have a visceral and immediate impact and leave the viewer with a clear sense of the charity’s work.
Through my new blog, I hope to show your group how to select photos with purpose that will get you the kind of attention your group deserves. I will guide you through the nitty-gritty of getting good photos for your own use and to grab the attention of the news media. Following each print edition of The Chronicle, I’ll spotlight a photo that worked well, describe how the organization made it happen, explain why other photos didn’t work, or the relate the challenges I had trying to convey the best image to accompany an article.
I hope you’ll share your lessons about how to attract media attention with great art. How does your organization use photos to illustrate and enhance your mission? How have your photos led to better media coverage? What questions—creative or technical—do you have about your charity’s use of images?