Picture this: 5 tips for taking great photos of your volunteers

Tina Hargrove, plays with the child of a homeowner during a Habitat for Humanity International Women Build in Ecuador. Image: Habitat Ireland

Last month, I wrote a post on photographing your volunteers for National Volunteering Week, which takes place May 14-May 20.  That post has become one of the most widely read on the blog, and because so many of you are interested in the topic, I thought I’d follow up with some tips on how to capture the spirit of volunteering in your non-profit through great photography.

1. Plan in advance how you can best showcase the work you do and the people you help.  Also, familiarize yourself with how your camera works, and the environment you will be shooting in. Use a digital camera and set it to high-resolution.  Don’t rely on your phone’s camera, however great it is.

2. No surprises. Let your volunteers know that you will be photographing them on the day. You don’t them to dress up, or look or do anything out of the ordinary, but people do like to know in advance they will be photographed if only to avoid a “bad hair day” moment.

3. No cheesy shots and don’t over-stage manage. Let your volunteers do what they’d normally do, and tell them not to pay attention to the camera. You don’t want staged shots – you want to capture your volunteers in action in order to tell your story most effectively.

4.Take lots of shots.  You won’t use them all but you have a better chance of getting just the right photo this way.

5. Think creatively. Focusing in on specific people or interactions can make for a more compelling and evocative image.  If taking photographs of children, squat down to their level, so you are shooting up towards their face. Don’t be afraid to climb, kneel, lean in close or move farther away to get the best shot.

There’s no better way to show your organisation’s impact than through a compelling photograph, and I hope these tips have inspired you to start snapping to tell your story. 

3 thoughts on “Picture this: 5 tips for taking great photos of your volunteers

  1. At a time when most charities have very tight budgets and hiring a professional photographer is outside our remit – it behoves us to get more skilled with the digital camera – excellent tips here!

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