7 Photo Tips For World-Changing Nonprofits

A photo has the power to tell a story of emotion, hope, and transformation. A photo can create connection and empathy—the kind that stirs people to action and inspires change.


Ready to create photos to raise awareness of your world-changing work? Here are seven simple tips to take memorable photos:

1. Remember, you’re unique.

Photo tips for nonprofits
Sitawi is building up the social sector, and young women entrepreneurs, in Brazil.
While it can be helpful to look to other organizations’ photos for inspiration, at the end of the day, you’re the only one who sees the world as you do. Your specific perspective matters! Show why people should care by showing how the work you’re doing is different or remarkable.

2. Focus.

Photo tips for nonprofits
Retrak America empowers children who are homeless in Ethiopia.
Decide where you want the viewer’s eye to be drawn, and then frame the subject of your photo to make it the immediate focus! It should be easy for the viewer to identify the main subject of the image.

3. Recognize good light.

Photo tips for nonprofits
Emfasis Foundation equips Syrian refugee children with photography skills.
When possible, shoot outdoors to make the most of natural sunlight. The most ideal times to shoot when the sun isn’t too harsh are right after the sun rises and right before the sun sets. If shooting indoors, try to be aware of windows and doors that can let in natural light. It’s a standard best practice for the light to come from behind the photographer, but sometimes rules are made to be broken, and it can be fun to experiment with backlit photos.

4. Think about the details.

Photo tips for nonprofits
American Himalayan Foundation supports at-risk communities in the Himalaya.
Details are a great way to place a person right into the project within your community. Be mindful of the reason something is included in an image whether it’s the setting or what items are featured on a shelf or the type of clothing somebody is wearing. These details are communicative. Nonprofits in particular have an obligation and an opportunity to change and improve the portrayal of people in difficult circumstances, and your photos can play a huge role in that. A simple guideline is to always ask yourself, “Would I be happy to be portrayed this way?”

5. Don’t forget your caption.

RISE International
RISE International ensures children in Angola have access to quality education.

When you share a photo, a good caption should enhance the quality of what your audience already sees. If you feel stuck, simply focus on including the five “W”s: who, what, when, where, and why. And lastly, don’t forget to clearly attribute to the photographer or the source of your photo.

6. Remember the best camera is the one you have with you.

Arunachala Animal Sanctuary And Rescue Shelter
Arunachala Animal Sanctuary & Rescue Shelter treats and houses suffering animals at its clinics and sanctuary in India.
You may not have the room to carry around a bulky, professional-grade camera; but, never fear, with recent advances in technology, your smartphone is now the next best thing when it comes to getting that perfect shot. From manually metering the light exposure, to becoming a pro at portrait mode, to finding the perfect lens or editing app, your smartphone is an incredibly powerful tool for communicating with your audience.

7. Show a memorable story.

Agros International
Agros International helps farmers in Guatemala implement sustainable farming practices.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so rather than telling a memorable story, you can show it! What people or places or things are most representative of your mission? How do you want your organization to be remembered? And how can that be conveyed in image form? Best of luck and happy shooting!

Are you a GlobalGiving nonprofit partner? Enter our Photo Contest now!

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