Famed documentary photographer Robert Frank once said that the one thing every good photograph must contain is “the humanity of the moment.”
When we use photography in church communications, that’s exactly what we endeavor to do — but we actually want to go one step further. We want to capture the divinity of the moment. We want to see and show humanity reaching for, working amidst, and resting within the embrace of God.
We live in a highly visual world, where pictures are worth more than just a thousand words — they’re worth everything. Research shows that consumers are more than six times more likely to remember information if it is paired with an image, and click-through rates of email campaigns with images are more than 40% higher than those without.
Whether you’re already using visual imagery and photography to communicate your parish message, or you want to and simply don’t know where to start, here are some points to consider.
Whether it’s the senior club’s Christmas lunch, a youth group pizza night or a surprise cake in the office for Father’s birthday, always be ready to snap a few photos. Don’t worry about making it look professional — what you want here is to convey the joy of discipleship that emerges in these spontaneous moments of parish life. On the occasion of a big event (think the annual parish picnic or the school auction), consider investing in a professional photographer, or find a volunteer who knows how to handle a DSLR. Attendees will be excited to see the photos on social media the next day, and those who couldn’t make it will be curious to see what they missed.
Sharing is caring.
No one lights a candle only to hide it under a bushel, so why would you take a photo only to leave it languishing, unseen, on the memory card? Social media posts with images are likely to get 2.3 times more engagement than those with no visuals. Sharing the moments you capture via social media can help convey the richness of your parish life and draw attention to ministries or initiatives that might otherwise be overlooked. Encourage parishioners to tag themselves in your photos to increase visibility and shareability.
Don’t forget the details.
Take a little time to educate yourself on rules, ethics, and considerations surrounding the use of copyrighted images and the sharing of photographs that depict real people. There are many guides online for creating a photo release form, and forms such as these can even be included in registration materials for large, planned events. You will also want to find out if your diocese has specific rules about obtaining permission before sharing images of children.