Photos, good photos, draw people into your website and your social media posts. They are essential to effective online ministry. I hesitate to say this, because it sounds like I am adding one more thing to an already long list of to-dos, but taking photos or finding someone to take photos is part of online ministry. This task is done best when it is done year round.
If you want to promote an upcoming event which happens annually, photos from last year’s event are great to use. Also, I often look through the file of photos for use in seasonal (Advent, Christmas, Easter, etc.) videos or for videos that tell the story of the community or a ministry.
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get good photos. You can take engaging photos for use on websites and social media using most mobile phones. I find the biggest challenge is remembering to take the photo. Another challenge is to take a photo that “tells a story.”
Taking the Photo
When you take a photo to use on the website or social media, it helps to know what you want to capture and the first answer is always “people,” especially for FACEbook. We want people, preferably engaged in an activity or at an event or occasion that is readily recognized by your viewers. Posed photos of couples celebrating anniversaries or groups gathered for some event where you want to be sure to “get everyone in” are fine. Close-ups of faces, especially happy faces are wonderful. I always try to take multiple photos and, if there is the opportunity, from different angles.
When I take photos, I always tell people I am the parish or community Facebook photographer and ask their permission. If someone says “no,” which is very rare, I accept their response and move on. In the case of children, I never take a child’s photo without the permission of their parents. Most schools and religious education programs now how forms that parents fill out at the beginning of the year or program giving or withholding permission for their child to be photographed for use by the parish or school. For these institutions or programs, having the parents’ wishes in writing is a good idea. The wishes of the parents must be followed—no exceptions.
Posting the Photos
Here are some of my personal guidelines for the photos that I post:
- If someone in the photo has their eyes closed or has an unflattering expression on their face, or are in an awkward stance—I do not use the photo.
- If the photo is out-of-focus, or if it is over- or underexposed, I don’t use it.
- If the photo is taken from too far away to make out the person or people, I don’t use it.
- I never tag photos on Facebook (digitally associate a name with a photo.) The only time I mention names in a post description is when the person, couple or group is being honored or recognized for something special.
- I only put good photos on social media and I put the best photos on websites.
How do you get and use photos on your website and social media? Any tips for the rest of us?