toy story picture 2

Avoid photos that show people from the back.

blog photo of toy story

Shoot photos that show action and setting.

We live in an increasingly visual world, where electronic and social media is driving an ever greater need for more and higher quality photos and graphics. In our work with non-profit organizations, we’re seeing many of them scrambling to assemble high-resolution photo libraries that effectively represent their work. Tight budgets generally preclude these organizations from hiring professional photographers, so they rely on the contributions of staff members and volunteers to record their activities and events. The results run the gambit from wonderful candid shots that capture the spirit of their work to blurry shots of the back of peoples’ heads.What can these organizations do to make their photo generation consistently productive?

  1. Be Prepared.

Make a “shot list” ahead of time to ensure you capture the elements you want.


  1. Keep Snapping

With digital, it costs you nothing and may be the difference between a good photo and a great one. Plus, it’s nice to have different angles for different uses. Photos are great for a quick social media update or news story, or for use in things like newsletters, brochures and event slideshows. Having lots of different options is always helpful.


  1. Be Creative.

You know what you need to capture in a photo, but how can you make it more interesting?

  • Take photos from varying angles and heights. Stand on a chair for a different perspective.
  • Facility spaces are always more interesting with people in them.
  • Capture faces that are filled with expression.
  • Look for active shots rather than a typical head shot.
  • Pay attention to what is in the background of your photo. Does it help tell a story or does it distract from your story? Does it give credit to a sponsor? Does it help define the setting?


  1. Don’t be shy!

Let people know you’ll be taking photos so you won’t feel hesitant to get up close for that personal shot.


  • Take photos of speaker/presenter – close up or from the side of the room, capturing the first few rows of audience.
  • Take photos of groups of people interacting with one another.
  • Make sure rooms are well lit. Try to use natural light as opposed to flash when possible.
  • Create unique photo opportunities – perhaps with signage, props.


  • Photograph a speaker/presenter from the back of the room – they’ll be too small and you’ll get a room full of the backs of heads.
  • Take photos of groups of people at a table such that the main focus is on their backs. Instead focus in on a few sitting next to one another.
  • Take photos of people without enough light or lit from behind.