Choosing the right photos

Using the right photos of your community helps make your story come alive. The right choice of visuals is critical. Photos send a very strong message to the reader.

Highlight what makes your community different and amazing. It might be that magic moment at a high school football game, a community BBQ, the annual parade, children swimming or dancing, people quilting, farmers out in the field, a new tech startup, or the bridge that spans the community, the beauty of the land or a river, or the park that your community enjoys.

The photos you choose need to resonate with your entire community, not just one group of people. Ensure the photos you select represent diversity. Mix old and young, males and females, children, families, and dignitaries interacting in your community. Imagine that each image is a postcard you’re sending to someone. Ask yourself how it represents your community.

Determine the photos you want to use according to the message you want to send or the point you want to make. Hiring a professional photographer is a good investment, or if you have access to local newspaper photos, they usually work very well. Maybe you have a local professional or great amateur photographer who is willing to donate images. Don’t overlook students at the local high school who may be eager for the photography experience. Knowing the source of your photos is critical. Most images are copyrighted, especially those pulled from a simple web search or Facebook page. Local photos with permission granted are always best.

Images for print are must be higher quality than those used for websites.

  • Images should have a resolution of 300 dpi for professional printing. They should be as big as possible (cover photos should be 300 dpi and around 9×12”). Images that are too small will pixelate or become blurry or grainy looking once printed.
  • The photo files should be large. If taken from a phone, always send at the largest or original size. Images can be placed on a thumb drive or shared via an online link from a site like Dropbox or Google Photo or may need to be emailed one image at a time.
  • The recommended file format for print images is a .jpg for photos. It is always better to have a photo too large than too small. Size can be reduced but not gained.
  • Images should never be in a Microsoft Word doc. PNG files are low quality files intended for web only.

Below are examples of excellent, community storytelling photos. Your fund may have granted to the playground construction, but no one wants to see a photo of an empty playground. Capture photos of your grantmaking in action! Invite kids to come and play and have a camera ready.

Want a printable sheet of this lesson? Click here.

This post is part of a larger Lunch & Learn all about marketing your affiliated fund’s achievements. Watch the whole webinar below.

What if YOU are the one tasked with being the photographer? Visit our NCF Classroom for a lesson on “Taking More Compelling Photos” with NCF’s Creative Specialist, Kira Geiger.

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