Photography for good: 10 things to consider

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

poster Every day around us, we see hundreds of people affected in many different ways – everyone has a story. Life changing experiences create stories. Creative storytelling of human endeavors that creates compelling actions is the key to capturing an NGO’s work.

There are thousands of NGOs working tirelessly and passionately, committed to changing the world for better. A keen understanding of particular place, moment or situation is very essential and it also brings a sense of responsibility. It also helps us gain a deeper insight into the broad range of issues.

Ten things to consider while working with NGOs for photographing the social and cultural framework:

1. Time: Time is of the essence. Don’t rush to get photos from the word go in any location / activity. Often, it is important to understand the objective of their work and concentrate on the surroundings at the macro level.

2. Understand the organizational goals: Each organization works on different social impact projects. People are always the core of the activities. Spend time with the program managers and talk to them briefly on the scope and scale of the projects. Look into their archives / newsletters / websites and understand the profile of the organization.

3. Get the people interested: For a community to be seen, they need something to get excited to. You need to show your enthusiasm and earn the confidence of the community you photograph. Most of them will be shy / reluctant. Create your own space and comfort level. Make them react to your creative skills and personality too.

4. Choose the right organization: It must fascinate you. There are so many different genres from health care, energy, education and sanitation to conservation and so on. Do a bit of research into what energizes you most and put your heart into building a portfolio.

5. Always have a smile: It helps! Photography is a great tool to bring a smile to the people’s faces and get the impossible tasks accomplished in a flash.

6. Tell stories: “A picture is worth a thousand words”, but it is more about stories than just pictures. Images that you create can have far reaching effects than written words and can communicate the human emotions and the nature of the organizational focus. A set of compelling images can have both reaction and action from the audience. Always think of telling a story in your images.

7. Grab the attention of the viewer: With so many media competing in tandem, it is photos that grab the short attention span of the readers / viewers than several lines of text. Photos are powerful tools for fundraising.

8. Impact the audience: People, portraits and their surroundings attract maximum attention in non-profit photography. Be sensitive and attentive to capture the moment and bring out the highlights of the situation. Show that your subjects are normal, intelligent and positive people with hope and capable of contributing for the larger society.

9. Permissions: Always be clear with the organization of what are the sensitivities of photographing the subject and the region. Many a times, there is a security issue involved, that needs restraint in using the camera.

10. Share the work: Don’t keep the images under wraps. Share it with the world on social networks.

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bhaskar This article is written by D K Bhaskar, ace photographer, explorer, author, international speaker, and strong advocate of world culture. Find out about Bhaskar here

Bhaskar will be conducting photography workshops in Rajasthan and Orissa with children from the villages. In the past he has conducted similar workshops in Assam (details). Participants of Socially Positive in the photography category will stand a chance to be a part of the workshop.

To see details and participate in Socially Positive click here.


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