You’re planning a large event at your parish — sacraments, festivals, VBS, etc. — does photography enter your plan? Photographs can capture the energy and excitement of an event in both print and digital communications.
Why do photos matter? Like a family photo on the wall, a photo can tell someone, “You belong here.” How many times have you seen someone search for their face in a group photo or thumb through a yearbook trying to find their listing? Similarly, photos of your community can assure them that they’re an important part of the family. Photos also build excitement, encourage nostalgia, and celebrate a job well done!
Churches can use photos in many ways:
- Post highlights and candids online after an event — show people what they missed. One church in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin shares, “[We use photos to] recap an event — First Communion, mission trip, retreat, church corn roast, etc. We have begun selecting some to use as banners and page art for our website.”
- Print a couple in your bulletin with highlights — “We had a blast at [xyz event]!”
- Add a few to the scrolling slideshow before Masses, “Thank you for making [xyz event] a success!”
- Print some and add them to the bulletin boards as people walk in and out of Mass
- Add photos to your promo materials for the Parish — real people in your photos speaks volumes
- A church in Espanola, New Mexico shares, “I post pictures of the church where events will be happening. When announcing the Annual Bazaar, I’ll post pictures of the fun that was had the previous year.”
Think photography sounds like a good idea but not sure where to start? James Silvestri of Silvestri Photography was kind enough to offer his perspective on best practices when it comes to church photography.
Silvestri has been a professional photographer for over 10 years in the Archdiocese of Detroit where he specializes in weddings and special events, but he has ample experience in the church world as well: he often shoots for large-scale church events on the Archdiocesan level. Here are his tips for you and your community.
What should churches keep in mind when hiring a photographer?
“Being Catholic (or at least being familiar with the Catholic faith) is a huge help when photographing churches or Masses. This helps in knowing what “part” of a Mass is coming next, what parts are “important” to capture and what is/is not ok to do in a church or during a Mass. For example, I was photographing a wedding one time and found myself in need of a second shooter at the last minute. I found someone who was a great photographer, but not necessarily a wedding photographer. Needless to say, his photos didn’t come out great because he wasn’t familiar with weddings, wedding day timelines, or working with a bride and groom. The same thought process applies to working with churches. Being familiar with what you’re shooting is essential to quality photography.” -JS
What kinds of questions can help a church find out if you’re a good “fit”?
“This is a tough one. Obviously, a portfolio tells a lot about creative ability with photography, but like I said in the last question, that doesn’t necessarily make you a good church/Mass photographer. It would be helpful to ask a photographer what kind of approach they would take during a Mass and how they might get certain shots.” -JS
What is special about church photography for you?
“I was raised in a very religious family and have been active in the Catholic church my entire life. My faith means a lot to me. Something else that means a lot to me is my artistic background. I find so much joy in photography and being able to combine that joy with the love of my faith is such a beautiful thing to me.” -JS
Why is photography important in today’s age?
“We live in a visual world. Visual, creative advertising is at an all-time high. Beautiful imagery does wonders for connecting people to each other and to what is being photographed. Hearing about a church or an event happening at a church is one thing but seeing beautifully photographed images of the church or the event has the ability to create emotions. Strong photography can be such a powerful thing and has the ability to bring people closer to each other, to the Church, and ultimately, to God.” -JS
With these tips under your belt, you’re well on your way to capture the success of your events!
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