The old saying that “A picture is worth a thousand words.” holds true in our social media and internet age. Perhaps even more so than in the past. If we are doing social media for our parish, diocese or religious community, we are the ones who somehow have to get the pictures, whether that means taking them ourselves or getting someone else to take them for us. If you are in that position, you know that it is not always as easy to get the pictures as some would imagine.
Some groups have one or more volunteers who can be counted on to take pictures at events. These range from professional photographers to a volunteer with a mobile phone. If they have some skill and know what to look for, you can get good, usable photos from all of them. But it often falls to us to be sure that one such person is at the event and taking pictures we can use.
It is not just events that we want to capture, it is special ceremonies. Recently we celebrated Catechetical Sunday and in many parishes, there was a commissioning service for those who will be involved in catechetical ministries for the coming year. Did we get the photo? Did we write a description recognizing our catechists and staff and expressing our gratitude for their service? Did we post that along with the photo on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? If not, we missed an opportunity to “build up the community.”
Posts like these often get many affirming comments and likes. And they get shared more than other posts.
Other special photo opportunities are renewal of wedding/religious vows on anniversaries, commissioning or blessing for any ministry. We can also support adult faith-formation activities, guest speakers and social justice outreach efforts, such as preparing meals or care packages for the needy by posting photos of the participants doing the activities and writing descriptions to go with them.
Photos draw attention to your posts and hence to the ministry. They are easier to create than graphics. But they have to be taken and then used in a timely manner preferably immediately after the event. Occasionally, we can get away with posting about events that have taken place a few days earlier, but for the most part people aren’t interested in “old news.” And yes, in this age of 24/7 communications, news a few days old is old.
There is actually a lot to think about when it comes to taking and using photos effectively in social media for ministry and I want to write more about it. But first, of all, I would like to invite you to post your questions, concerns, and/or experiences about ministry photos on social media. That will help me organize my content to address topics that are interesting and helpful to you. Also, tell us if you are the photographer or if you must rely on others.
I will be on retreat next week (October 2-9) and there will be no blog. My next post will be on October 11. Please know that I will be remembering all of you and your intentions in my prayers. I ask the same from you.