Posted by Lisa Thompson

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but if you don’t post quality images online that engage your audience and reflect your cause, your photos may not say much of anything.

You have a great opportunity to tell your nonprofit’s story through photos and images on your website. But if the main story you’re telling is “people lined up against a wall in bad lighting,” you might want to invest in some better photos.

It’s important that your website’s photography reflects the action, emotion and passion behind your organization. Engaging pictures can give a face to your organization, draw visitors into your site and portray the positive impact you’re making without asking readers to wade through blocks of text. You just need to be sure you’re capturing the right images.

Here are five easy ways to get started:

  1. Take pictures of the people you serve and your volunteers, particularly when you are out in the community. Tell their stories with great images that catch them in action and reflect their personalities. The most engaging photos are great face shots that evoke emotion and give your nonprofit a human factor—and they’re best if they’re candid, not staged or posed.
  2. Always take your cameras to events like fundraisers, conferences, ceremonies, awards banquets or community service projects. You’ll find great photo ops often when you least expect them, so it pays to be prepared. At the very least, have your smartphone’s camera—and storage capacity—ready for an impromptu photo shoot. In fact, with today’s smartphone cameras and photo editing apps, you can look like a pro without all the fancy equipment.
  3. Put a face to the name. Take pictures of your employees and/or volunteers and put them on your staff page. Online visitors love to see the faces behind the organization. For professional-quality staff photos, use a tripod, which will take away the shake and produce the clearest shots. Even a slightly shaky camera can make the best lighting ineffective.
  4. Watch your background. Keep it simple so that your subject stands out and doesn’t compete with clutter. The best way to do this is to get close—even closer—to your subject. Don’t be afraid to zoom in; one of the biggest mistakes people make is shooting from too far away.
  5. Learn when to take vertical pictures. If the subject you are shooting is taller than it is wide, turn your camera 90 degrees to maximize the area of the subject in your camera viewfinder.

With the right images, your online visitors will be able to tell what you’re all about within seconds of landing on your site. Great photos will engage supporters, motivate donors and ultimately encourage like-minded people to align with your organization and cause. You have a story to tell, and your website is the ultimate platform.