Posted on Nov 15, 2018
Adapted from an article by Alyce Henson, Rotary International staff photographer
Using photography to tell a story can feel complex and challenging, but it doesn’t have to. By following a few guidelines, having a focused mindset, and applying a bit of confidence, you can take great pictures. Below are some photo tips based on recent images the author took in Nassau and Seattle, as well as some from our own district. Try these tricks, and you might be surprised what you can capture.
If you see a great moment happening naturally don’t be afraid to ask people to continue doing the action that caught your eye in the first place.  In this case, the photographer saw these two Rotarians passing a seed pod to one another. She asked them to pass it back and forth a few times and to look at each other. It only took an extra minute or two to get a successful image.
  When people are wearing hats, especially baseball caps, it is important that you capture their face in the photo. This image would not have been successful if Jim Fusco was looking down and his face was covered by the visor of the cap (or in shadow). When people wear caps, ask them to tip it up a little or take it off entirely if you can’t get their face in the shot. This image could end up being cropped to a vertical image for final usage. That would work because there is enough room around the image to crop it to a different orientation. You can’t stress enough the importance of having empty space!
  Capture volunteers having a good time. Often, people who are working and focused have a serious look on their face. A serious look can be mistaken for anger or not enjoying what they are doing. A few things you can do to lighten the mood is talk to people while photographing. You might say things to get them to laugh, look at each other, or engage in a conversation. In this photo the two women saw a fellow club member approaching, so the photographer asked that Rotarian to stay on the sideline to talk and joke around with the women as they were being photographed. That way the person remains off camera but enhances the mood of the people on camera.
Words and logos on clothing and hats can be challenging! Make sure people only wear Rotary branded clothing and not that of any other company or organization. Don’t have everyone at the project wear the exact same branded shirt either. Everyone doesn’t have to match. Mix it up with neutral color clothing, small pops of color and shirts with small patterns, along with some Rotary shirts and caps.
Often, Rotarians are working outside in bright sunlight, wearing sunglasses for protection. Ask your subjects to take off their sunglasses for a few minutes while you photograph them. If someone is very sensitive to light, have the main person in action take off their sunglasses. We want to be able to see the eyes of the main subjects when we look at images, not have them hidden behind sunglasses or under hats.
Words of encouragement:
Our photography needs to focus on the connections we make in our communities. Our images should tell a genuine visual story. Capturing compelling images is one of the most important and universal ways to tell our story. 
Use the photography section of the People of Action Style Guide, available on Brand Center for help taking pictures for your People of Action campaign materials (you’ll need an account on  If you need help, email Sue Peghiny by clicking here). Becoming familiar with and applying these guidelines will set your club up for greater success and create continuity for our brand, no matter what part of the world our campaign is seen. Whether you take the pictures yourself or hire a photographer, this guide will help you take photos that are ideal for creating an effective, memorable image or ad.