A Layperson’s Guide to Smartphone Church Photography

September 8, 2022  •   LPi

family sitting in church

One of the most significant mistakes that we see churches make when it comes to their website, social media, and branding, is the use of outdated, low-quality, or irrelevant photography. Luckily this is also one of the easiest mistakes to remedy! Having current, high-quality photos of your community is one of the best ways to show how vibrant and relatable your parish is!

Are you already feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry! You don’t need to hire a professional photographer every time there’s a parish event to build a high-quality photo library for your community! Here is an easy guide for the photography layperson to capture fantastic photos for your church’s digital and print

The Best Equipment

Good news — You likely already have a high-definition camera built into your phone! If you aren’t sure how to use all of the features of your phone’s camera, a quick google search can help. Just search your phone’s make and model along with “camera tutorial” and watch a couple of the videos that come up. You may discover that your phone has more camera features than you realized!

If your photos are coming out blurry it may be that your indoor lighting is dim. Check to see if your phone has a low-light setting for indoor spaces. You probably don’t need to, but if you wanted to try out a new gadget you could use a smart phone enabled tripod to cut down on camera movement in dim lighting. Tripod stabilization can help you avoid using a flash during a Mass or ceremony!

5 Great Shot Ideas to Get You Started

Make sure to take a variety of wide-angle shots as well as close-ups. Shoot some in a vertical format as well as some horizontally so that you have a variety of formats! Take some during special church occasions as well as during Ordinary Time. Try to cover all liturgical seasons evenly.

These five photo ops are essential library starters:

  1. Families gathering as Mass is letting out
  2. Your pastor greeting parishioners
  3. A well-attended Mass inside of your sanctuary
  4. Children & families at their first communion or another sacrament
  5. Parishioners participating in a parish event
Other Parish Photography Ideas:

• Advertise that you will be taking photos at a certain Mass time and date so that your parishioners can plan ahead! This way, they can prepare and come to this specific Mass expecting to be part of your community photos! We suggest doing this a couple of times a year.

• Have a photo booth at parish events where families can take pictures! You can’t always rely on families to share photos with you, so, make sure you have someone designated to take photo booth photos for the church’s collection too! Check out this online how-to for church photo booths.

• Speaking of encouraging individual parishioners to share photos with you — Be sure to create a hashtag (#) for your parish so that, when your community members use it, their photos are collected into a neat library for you to access. To make this work, though, you must create a very specific hashtag that’s unique to your parish. If you only use your church name, for example #StMark, the hashtag will yield results from St. Mark parishes all over the world. Instead, design your hashtag to be much more specific to your community. An easy way to do this is to add your church’s city and state abbreviation to the hashtag. For example, if St. Mark is in Kent, Georgia, your hashtag would be #StMarkKentGA. This will distinguish any photos that people tag with your hashtag as photos belonging to your specific community and not to a St. Mark parish somewhere else in the world.

Lastly, Don’t Forget:

To get people’s permission — especially when minors are in photographs. It’s important to have their parent’s permission to use a child’s photos online and in print. Does your parish have a standard photo-release? Some parishes build these into their faith formation program permission slips for parents. Click here for more information on photography releases.

To dedicate a specific place to store these photos — Many people may need access to your parish’s photo library. The youth minister might want to make a flyer that includes a recent photo of a parish family, or your administrator may be updating the website and need fresh photos for the homepage. Be sure that the parish staff all knows how to access up-to-date church photography and that it’s stored in a safe place. Storing photos in a web-accessible cloud storage space like Google Photo is a great way to ensure that password protected access is available to those who might need it, even from home!

To use these photographs all over your parish’s website, social media, and bulletin!

If you find yourself longing for a better-looking bulletin or website to match your newly updated photography, LPi can help!

I print with LPi and would love to learn how I can refresh my bulletin — Just contact your customer service agent to get started!

I don’t print with LPi but would love to learn more.

Learn about LPi’s church website tool, WeConnect.

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