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Advice for Field Photos


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While working in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2007, I developed a slide presentation for staff on taking photos in the field. I relied heavily on all staff, particular Afghan staff, no matter what their job titles, to take photos whenever possible at events and workshops and during project site visits. This is because many international staff are prohibited from traveling to certain parts of Afghanistan; international staff are sometimes prohibited from leaving Kabul altogether. This presentation/training touches on both the kinds of photos needed and how to take photos in a culturally-sensitive manner. This presentation is focused on a specific program and a specific country (Afghanistan), but maybe by changing the photos and a bit of text, it could work for you?

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Advice for Field Photos

  1. 1. Advice for Field Photos By Jayne Cravens Communications & Reporting Advisor August 12, 2007
  2. 2. Firstly: THANK YOU for sharing your photos already!
  3. 3. Every Picture Tells A Story
  4. 4. What Does This Photo Say?
  5. 5. What Does This Photo Say?
  6. 6. What Does This Photo Say?
  7. 7. What Does This Photo Say?
  8. 8. What Does This Photo Say?
  9. 9. What Does This Photo Say
  10. 10. The best photos don’t completely rely on text to explain them in order for you to “hear” at least part of the overall story.
  11. 11. NABDP needs photos for many different reasons, to serve many different audiences
  12. 12. “I urgently need photos…” <ul><li>“… of children using a water pump” </li></ul><ul><li>“… of men working” </li></ul><ul><li>“… of that workshop in Herat last year” </li></ul><ul><li>“… of NABDP staff in action </li></ul><ul><li>“… of the Belgians on a field visit” </li></ul><ul><li>“… of women in discussion” </li></ul><ul><li>“… with lots of color” </li></ul><ul><li>“… of smiling faces” </li></ul><ul><li>“… of the Japanese donors signing our latest agreement” </li></ul>
  13. 13. Who Are Photos For? <ul><li>Donors </li></ul><ul><li>Media/Press </li></ul><ul><li>Citizens of Afghanistan </li></ul><ul><li>Government </li></ul><ul><li>Internal MRRD / NABDP / UNDP Staff </li></ul><ul><li>Partner Organizations </li></ul><ul><li>Other Organizations </li></ul><ul><li>International General Public </li></ul><ul><li>Others? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Why Do They Want Photos? <ul><li>Donors </li></ul><ul><li>To show progress on projects they are funding </li></ul><ul><li>“ Proof” of work </li></ul><ul><li>To put images with the text they read in reports </li></ul><ul><li>Other reasons? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Why Do They Want Photos? <ul><li>Media / Press </li></ul><ul><li>Government </li></ul><ul><li>To use in their publications </li></ul><ul><li>To use in reports, publications, web site, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>To demonstrate progress/action </li></ul>
  16. 16. Tips for Field Trip Photos <ul><li>Be respectful; ask for permission; notify the group that photos will be taken and how they will be used. </li></ul><ul><li>Take LOTS of photos. When in doubt (is this a good photo?), take the photo. Take several photos of the same scene, from the same angle and different angles. </li></ul><ul><li>Outside shots are best (because of light), but take pictures away from the sun, if possible. </li></ul><ul><li>When inside, get close to the subject, and try to aim away (instead of into) light sources. </li></ul><ul><li>Get FACES and ACTION when possible. </li></ul><ul><li>Get C O L O R when possible. </li></ul><ul><li>Show local people talking, teaching, learning, working, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>As much as local culture and circumstances allow, get photos of women. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s okay to arrange people for a photo (e.g. asking people to stand in a certain place). </li></ul><ul><li>Remember that photos will serve many needs (donors, government, internal use, etc.). </li></ul>
  17. 17. Special Consideration for Indoor Workshops/ Indoor Ceremonies <ul><li>Get CLOSE to the main subject(s), and try to aim away (instead of into) light sources. </li></ul><ul><li>Get FACES, with EXPRESSION if possible. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask signers of an agreement to pose together (stand close together with the agreement, have them shake hands and face the camera, etc.) after signing for a photos. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Don’t wait for the perfect shot! Take lots of photos , and the “right” photo will show up when you review the pictures later.
  19. 19. Photo Advice in Action Bored? Not participating? Not included? No expression. Participating. Thoughtful. Included.
  20. 20. Photo Advice in Action Who? Too dark. No faces Participating. Thoughtful. Included. Better photo even though it is out-of-focus
  21. 21. Labeling Is Key <ul><li>Make sure your camera’s date is set correctly (so we know when the photo was taken; the date does not have to appear on the photo, however) </li></ul><ul><li>When you download photos onto your computer, put them in a folder with a very descriptive name (location and project name are key). </li></ul><ul><li>Adding a narrative in a MS Word document and putting it in your photo folder is GREATLY appreciated (for instance, noting why a photo is important if it won’t be obvious when others view the photo) </li></ul><ul><li>If there are donors/VIPs, etc. in the photo, please provide proper IDs </li></ul>
  22. 22. Please Share! <ul><li>Please share field and event photos with communications unit promptly! </li></ul><ul><li>Videos are welcomed too! (same rules apply: good light, faces, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>We have a 300+ file of the very best photos and can burn these onto a CD for you! </li></ul><ul><li>Many of the best NABDP photos also available at </li></ul>
  23. 23. Most Important Things to Keep in Mind: (1) Take lots of photos & (2) Share them with communications unit (Jayne, Gunda or Fariba) via a memory stick (never via email!) THANK YOU