Use Photos for What Purposes?
It's trite but true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Apart from making sure that you show diverse volunteers in terms of gender, age, race, and other characteristics, help a prospective volunteer to actually "picture" him- or herself in your setting. Take real photographs of volunteers at work, not obviously staged promotional shots. Show the office, recreation hall, patient room, or playing field where the service happens. Of course, you won't show client faces, but that doesn't mean you can't include the backs of people in a circle or someone's hands.
An archive of many different images - kept current - provides you with choices for what to print in a brochure, post to the volunteer pages of your organization's Web site, include with a press release, or add to any slide show for different purposes and audiences.
Forgo the usual "certificate" of appreciation and instead give each person a framed photograph of her- or himself doing the volunteer work for which you are giving thanks. What better way to show that "we see you"? Matte the photos with a printed message such as "you fit right in" or "thanks for all you've contributed here this year." Bet those pictures go on display in volunteers' homes, too, so be sure to include your organization's logo!
Even more useful are self-running slide shows at recognition events that offer the year-in-review, projected either as people gather for the party or during the event. Real pictures of real happenings with real volunteers and paid staff working together. Everyone gets excited to see whom they know in the shots and the cumulative effect is to educate all viewers (include the executives who attend the event) about the range of activities accomplished by volunteers during the last year.
Hint: Record the voices of the
beneficiaries of volunteer service (clients, staff, visitors, etc.) making comments about the volunteers who helped them, and use those audio clips as background to the slide show.
One more idea: Catch people doing something right or good! Include the photo in a thank you note right after you witnessed the positive moment. Definitely do this for staff as well as for volunteers.
It's become common at weddings and other events to scatter disposable cameras on dinner tables and encourage the guests to capture whatever images they think are fun, moving, or special in some way. Yes, there may still be a professional photographer taking formal pictures, but these spontaneous shots can save wonderful memories. Even without encouragement, these days it's impossible to
stop guests from snapping photos on their phones...and almost immediately posting them to Facebook, Instagram, or some other picture-sharing platform. Use this to your organization's advantage and encourage such photography at any special event you sponsor.
Perhaps the most well-organized videotaping in our field is that of Volunteering Queensland TV on YouTube. Most of the many videos there are planned and produced by skilled volunteers.
Recruit and Train Volunteer Photographers
You do not have to be the one taking the pictures! Recruit volunteers onto a photography team. Some may want this to be their primary assignment, others may be willing to be on call for scheduled photo opps.
Although you want the team to capture candid photos, this does not mean they should be of poor quality! Before you add a volunteer to the photography team, do the same sort of screening as with any other volunteer position and make sure to ask to see samples of the applicant's pictures. If, after viewing these portfolios, you feel additional training is needed, schedule some with a professional photographer (another volunteer?) who can give your new team some basic "tricks of the trade." The goal is to have candid, quality photos that anyone would enjoy viewing!
This Quick Tip comes from Susan J. Ellis, President of Energize, Inc.
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