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Your Nonprofit Deserves Great Photography

By Nick Conti

Avatar for Nick Conti

When you’re gathering photos for your nonprofit website, you want to be sure they communicate your message loud and clear. Your inspiring story deserves better than an iPhone photo with a filter slapped on it or a friend experimenting with a ‘fancy camera.’ Great photography will help you cut through all the noise, communicate your message and not easily be forgotten.

The Attention Grabber

Think back to the last time you flipped through a magazine, or thumbed through Facebook or Instagram on your phone. What sticks out?

man blowing trumpet
Capturing the climax, being bold, and cutting straight to the point will grab people’s attention | Photo by: Nick Conti

If imagery is the first thing that comes to mind, you’re not alone. In fact, people retain 65% of the information they can pair with an image versus 10% of information they read.

Whether you’re driving in your car passing a billboard or scrolling through your Facebook News Feed, great photos have a way of capturing your attention. With the flash of a great photo, your imagination wanders and emotions take hold. It’s only after moments of reflection that you realize what you actually saw was a story being told right before your eyes.

Attention spans are short, and every second counts. Being able to draw someone into a conversation is essential to your nonprofit’s success. A great photo can make your audience pause for those extra valuable seconds you need to inspire action.

Photography Tells the Full Story

You’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Are the words your picture is showcasing driving your narrative forward, or just adding filler to your nonprofit’s website?

crowded marketplace on a Saturday
Showing movement, and introducing ideas helps the viewer start to interpret the story using their own imagination | Photo by: Nick Conti

You shouldn’t use just any sort of image on your website. You have to find high-quality, captivating photos that represent your brand and help move your message forward. Here are some quick tips to help you start snapping story-driven photos:

  • People connect with people. Think about the people that describe your brand the best and use them to help your audience relate.
  • Leverage the emotional potential of your photos to move your audience and ignite action
  • Pay attention to your composition! Sometimes the right angles & lighting make all the difference
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment, sometimes the most interesting photos break all the rules

Pictures can tell your nonprofit’s story better than any other medium. If one image doesn’t do the job, maybe a series of three images would, or a small gallery. Selecting the right photos can give your mission some context and motivate people to support you.

Never Be Forgotten

Once you’ve started taking your own pictures and using them throughout your nonprofit’s messaging, you’ll want to take things one step further.

George Lois & Joe Namath sharing a conversation
Don’t be afraid to use iconic people for iconic photos! An image can be extra impactful when using an iconic subject to help share your story, especially when you capture a moment of truth. (Ad Legend George Lois Directing NFL superstar Joe Namath) | Photo by: Nick Conti

Iconic photos that capture the mood of your brand add a level of dramatic flair and feeling that words could never match. They are the banner photos your see adorned atop home pages, fundraising campaigns and impact reports. It’s unforgettable, seamlessly blending copy with visual to help your audience connect within an instant.

The Mighty Penguins Sled Hockey Team is just one of the many nonprofits who do a great job of getting the unforgettable photo. They use images of their players all across their website to clearly communicate what they do, who they do it for and why it matters to their community.

Directing the Eyes

When you want people to see something, you point at it.

Leading lines in an image serve the same purpose. They keep the viewer’s eyes from wandering about and direct them to exactly what you want them to see. It stimulates their interest and helps your audience crave more.

Two trails leading through Umpqua Forest
All the lines in an image don’t have to take you to “one emphasized spot”. Sometimes it can be fun to have your eyes wandering to a second layer of hierarchy. | Photo by: Nick Conti

Composition is incredibly important when choosing what photos to use on your nonprofit website. Take some time to pay attention to the lines in your image. Where do they lead your eyes? Do they take you towards a focal point, or do they lead you astray? Whether it’s a simple or complex image, movement plays a key role in capturing a great photo.

Capturing and sharing images should be a part of your regular communication plan. It can be funny, it can be soft and beautiful, it can be loud and angry. No matter what it is, the right images can change someone’s perception of your brand and your story and move potential donors to action.