Is the power of imagery and professional photography ever more important than when the ‘product’ it represents is a charity?
After all, charities have a difficult job to do – with so many doing some really great things they need to tell you why their cause is worthy of your time and money above any other. They’re not just appealing for your help; they’re appealing for your emotional connection, for that ‘something’ that sets them apart from the rest. Where words can only convey so much, the power of imagery is as an indispensable tool, with the potential to cross the barriers of language and culture. Stock images just won’t cut it.
I am always incredibly proud to work for a charity. Not just because I know that the money they spend will have been carefully budgeted to work as hard as possible but because they have trusted me to understand their objectives and purpose and bring that across in my photographs. It’s not just about a pretty picture; it’s about translating their objectives and purposes into visual stories that resonate with compassion and conviction.
St Elizabeth Hospice
One local charity that is doing things really well is St Elizabeth Hospice. The hospice is an independent Suffolk charity which, every year, delivers care to over 3000 patients and their families throughout East Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney who are living with a progressive or life-limiting illness. These services cost £12.9m to facilitate each year, with the charity raising 70% of funds via revenue streams and the generosity of the community through support of its retail shops and fundraising activities.
The Hospice have worked incredibly hard to define and implement a marketing strategy that gives them clear visibility in the local community – from their vibrant shops to their ongoing fundraising efforts, especially the art trails that they have installed around Ipswich in recent years.
The Photographer’s Lens: A Trio of Objectives
When I set out my plan for capturing the Hospice’s essence, I had three key objectives to guide my planning:
Conveying Values: Every charity, including St Elizabeth Hospice, is anchored in a set of principles that define its core. It’s my mission to translate these values into images – to let viewers not just see but feel the dedication, empathy, and resolve that underpin these organizations.
Emphasizing the Human Element: Beyond the campaigns and the statistics, charities are about people – those who give help, those who receive it, and those who make it all possible. Through photography, I spotlight the faces and stories that lend substance to the cause, allowing the audience to connect on a human level.
Provoking Emotion: The heart of charitable action lies in the emotions it stirs. I’m not just capturing moments frozen in time, but the that these moments evoke. Joy? Empathy? Determination? these emotions are what turn passive viewers into active supporters.
If you’re looking for a reminder of the impact that professional images can have, think about this: a solitary photograph has the potential to create a shift. It can inspire a brief glance to evolve into a lasting dedication and a lifelong commitment of support. That’s the value of professional photography to the charity sector.