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Photo Tips for Capturing Your Mission

A group of teens in skull make up sit at a table
Photo Credit: La Luz Centro Cultural
Attendees in sugar skull makeup engage in a game of musical chairs at La Luz Centro Cultural during a Dia de Los Muertos celebration in November 2022.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so it's important to find the right ones to represent your organization. Explore this photo-based resource to help plan and select images that reflect and inspire your organization’s mission.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

We know that complex ideas can be conveyed by a single still image. So when trying to convey the meaning or essence of an organization’s mission, it’s important to reflect on how you can more effectively communicate through stories as well as images—combined these play a key role in bringing your work to life and conveying the type of experience people can look forward to and expect from your organization.

When setting out to capture an event, we recommend to keep these tips in mind.

Emphasize Connection

Consider how your event connects people with those closest to them, with their community and the world around them, and with themselves.

Show how a community comes together to share a special moment.

Framing a big moment with the audience in the shot can help emphasize the collective, as seen here with the crowd coming together in the middle of town for Innoskate.

A skateboarder lifts off a skate ramp with his board and arms in the air during a sunny day with blue skies at an event called Innoskate 2022 in Sioux Falls, SD. There is a crowd of people standing in the background, behind a barricade watching the skateboarder.
Photo Credit: Joshua Novak

Highlight pre- or post-event interactions.

Atmospheric candid shots of special moments between attendees can be some of the most powerful photos, like this one in which a Big Read event attendee connects with poet Julia Alvarez after her keynote.

Close up of two people smiling and embracing each other on stage in an auditorium.
Photo Credit: Joshua Feist

Put the audience in the picture

Whether they are exploring creative expression around them or sharing their own creativity, make sure you capture the crowd—like these young music enthusiasts!

A auditorium full of excited elementary school students sit and watch a performance.
Photo Credit: Val Ihde

Show & Model Active Participation

Look for interactive moments between people that go beyond passive observation.

Capture the feelings of the event

Choose a blend of photography that conveys the reactions and the powerful range of emotions that are felt by the crowd. Here, you can see the choir really connecting with what they’re singing!

Members of the Lyrica perform around a statue of Iowa State's mascot as they record a video in Ames, IA as a part of Worldfest. They are grouped together, singing and holding one finger in the air.
Photo Credit: Grant Tetmeyer

Focus on the interactive elements

Highlight the audience as a direct contributor. Include images and videos of audience and community members interacting with artists, presenters, and each other; here, this family gets to connect with the performer, not just observe!

A person wearing a mask kneels by a sitar and speaks to a parent and child.
Photo Credit: Lotus Education and Arts Foundation

Tell the story of how community members engage with your work

Highlight the connections people are making at your event, not just the programming itself; focusing on the individual interactions, like the one seen here, can tell a story all their own.

Two people shaking hands at an outdoor market.
Photo Credit: John Robson

Diversify who documents your story

Invite multiple members of your organization, your audience, and community members to serve as photographers, videographers, and messengers to share their perspectives and express their creativity through your programming and communication channels.

A woman in a yellow jacket holding a camera and smiling.
Photo Credit: Portuguese Gravity via Unsplash