Getting the best photographs for clients

A great photo can help tell your charity’s story. We live in a visual world. It is estimated that more than 300 million photos are uploaded daily to social media.

Based on our experience briefing photographers for our clients, here are our tips for making sure you get the results you are looking for.


Prepare a brief that spells out:

  • Something about the client
  • What the function is, or why you want photographs.
  • The length of the photo shoot
  • How many photographs are required and in what format
  • The contact to ring if you are not available
  • A timetable of photographs – this can take time and quite often does not go to plan so you need to build in flexibility
  • The budget
  • The deadline for receiving photographs.

Specifics which are important

What emotions are you seeking to portray?
For example, are you looking for serious expressions, candid shots, or eye contact?

What’s the lighting like?
Will it be in a small room with little flexibility, or will it be a large room? Will there be lots of natural lighting? Should the photographer bring his or her own lights?

Are there any distractions to consider?
Will there be other things going on in the vicinity that need to borne in mind?

Which individual should be the main focal point? 
Profile shots of individuals doing something work best often but if the story or campaign is about nutrition and older people, close-ups of food with the person blurred work better.

How should your subjects pose? 
A photographer should adjust their own angle to get a variety of shots that can affect the final image.

How is it going to look when published?

Make sure you have a mix of profile and landscape shots. We also let the photographer what we will be using the photographs for – an annual report or corporate booklet will have a specific look, while social media will be less formal.

Working with your clients

Ahead of the shoot, it is important also to brief your clients. These are some of the issues you may wish to cover:

Type of clothing and colour you would prefer them to wear. Avoid anyone wearing black of white; white can look bleached and black can be dull. Vibrant colours are fun.

What type of props, if any, you would like them to bring

The use of colour throughout images can often make a big difference.

Let your clients know why the photographer is coming

We have heard far too often from subjects that they didn't know the photographer was coming.

Always make sure you tell your clients, talk to them about what they will or won’t put up with.

If they are family violence survivor, and all the legalities are fine, spend time working out how to photograph them which maintains dignity but does not put them at risk. For example, we recently interviewed a woman who was a former architect. The final photograph was of her holding an architectural plan – we tied her very distinctive hair in a pony tail so it would not identify her.

Make sure you build in enough time for the photographer to meet and speak to people beforehand in order to prepare them for the shoot. It’s vital everyone involved understands what’s going to happen and where the images will be used.