Diversify Your Visual Message For Your Charity

Over the last ten years or so, our social media landscape has diversified and expanded to unimaginable expectations, bringing with it both the good and the wrong side of human nature. It's ability to reshape, modify, and inform the way we think and see our lives have moved or altered many of the perspectives we have on life, especially for those over a certain age, who knows where the internet and all its platforms will lead us in the next ten years? As a social documentary, and environmental portrait photographer, I'm someone who sees life very visually, I can read a situation and use my skills as a professional photographer to change its perspective. Either by telling a story in a way that elicits emotion, empathy and engagement towards my subject or conversely I can work to capture a look(image) that describes the opposite side of the story, I'm referring to depicting an individual or group whom the viewer might draw a not so favourable consideration.  

But as a photographer, I also have the opportunity to make a difference in the way our society sees each other, with respect in informing what's true and not just some glossy interpretation of the real.  As a social portrait photographer, I've been privileged to have met and photographed many wonderful people over the years. But many of them would fail to make what are deemed to be 'commercially worthy' images since they don't fit the require aesthetic to sell a product or service. Or maybe I, the photographer, haven't produced an image with the right amount of 'gloss' to make the photograph commercially viable or one that fits into a particular social media category.

Champion Guinea Pig owner, Tendring County Show- John Ferguson

Champion Guinea Pig owner, Tendring County Show- John Ferguson

The irony shouldn't be lost when discussing imagery for social media, we are all part of a community, and we are all parts of what is made up of our society.  But we are now inundated with a million images of how we should appear and look, either on TV, in magazines or via social media, without any flaws, so to be presented to the wider world. Unfortunately, this is all down to companies and brands selling us items that promise this unachievable lifestyle, and we have often fallen for it. Life here in the UK is as diverse as any forward thinking, modernistic country could be, so let's celebrate this achievement, and its perceived flaws et al.   

Alan Ashmore(left) and his partner of 35 years Ivan Rowland, celebrating their legal partnership today - Picture John Ferguson

Alan Ashmore(left) and his partner of 35 years Ivan Rowland, celebrating their legal partnership today - Picture John Ferguson

As a photographer going about my day to day business, the simple fact is that we are all real people, people with different characteristics, personalities, traits and opinions, we are all shapes and sizes, all from different cultural backgrounds. These are the people I love to, and very good at photographing, these are precisely the people you should be using for your campaigns, websites and promotions, to publicise your charities or social services. Too many charities, councils and public sector communication departments are using stock photography that gives an altered perspective of life. Or worse, they're not using the potential of good photography at all. 
People enjoy seeing others like themselves, not always people with the perfect smile, or someone in their late 40's or 50's comfortably wearing a size 10 outfit, but individuals and groups who they can connect with, we feel more at ease when they see a story about others whom we can relate and engage with. If you want to get your project or message across to your audience, then hiring the services of a good photographer is paramount for communicating your charities essence or cause.

Rural Loneliness - Picture by John Ferguson

Rural Loneliness - Picture by John Ferguson

A photographer that understands your ethos, believes in your mission and can visually interpret the right stories which your core audiences can relate to, is priceless.  People enjoy seeing diversity, they enjoy seeing stories on different social platforms that ring true, you're giving your audience, and prospective clients the opportunity and confidence to engage and interact with you, which in turn could lead to extra donations and sponsors. 
So don't forget, step away from the perfectly styled imagery and look for photography which is more authentic, thoughtful and emotive, 
something which celebrates the reality and reinforces your message or work. The opportunities are endless for great crafted projects, campaigns and promotions, remember the public are much more media savvy these days and will be drawn into your story if they believe it to be genuine, trustworthy, authoritative, and honest. It's a step in the right direction. Photography is a currency that if used correctly can pay you dividends for you or your organisation.   
 

If you like to speak with me about an upcoming project or campaign then please contact via email on: John@johnfergusonphoto.com

I'd be happy to help with any ideas that you might have.