More and more, in all forms of popular culture and mass media, people are responding to visual images. The same holds true for animal advocacy. In order to reach people with our message of compassion, we need engaging, high quality images.
If you are photographing for CAA, please review these general guidelines for taking awesome pictures that could potentially be used for CAA communications.
- Remember our mission: to encourage people to embrace their empathy and move toward a plant-based diet. For this, we often try to share images of the following:
- Farmed animals. The images could show happy, rescued animals or animals suffering on factory farms. Either way, the photos should reveal the individual animal(s) as having qualities that would evoke empathy. These qualities might include cuteness, intelligence, and sensitivity. “Farmed animals” includes chickens, cows, fishes, pigs, turkeys, and other animals commonly raised for food. Whenever possible, get the animals’ names.
- Vegan food. Photos of delicious plant-based cuisine can be very inspiring, showing others that vegan food not only exists but can also satisfy their cravings. Show a range of hearty vegan food, from obviously healthy to more decadent.
- Thriving community. We want to motivate others to want to join our movement, attend our events, and become a part of our local community. For this, we want images that demonstrate that our events are popular, i.e. well-attended, and that people are genuinely happy to be there. Also, remember that our target demographic is young adults. Though our community encompasses a range of ages (and we can photograph people of all ages), make a priority of getting images of young adults.
- Ask for permission. Generally, volunteers will be prepared to be photographed as part of their volunteer agreement. However, before you snap a photo of event attendees, ask if it’s okay. Most people will be okay with being photographed, but we want to leave room for people to decline if they wish.
- The perfect content is only powerful if the images are of high quality. What does it mean to have high quality images for CAA? Here are some ideas:
- High resolution. With the advancement of technology and the prevalence of smartphones, the modern eye has no patience for images that are out-of-focus or pixelated. Be sure that the images you take are in focus and shared at a high resolution.
- Good lighting. The tone of our message is friendly and welcoming. In the same way, all of our photographic images should be bright and cheerful. If possible, take the time to adjust the orientation of your subject or your lighting source as necessary.
- Visually appealing food photos. Make the food look good! Here’s how:
- Position the food in a flattering way
- Be sure the image is in focus
- Adjust the lighting so that there are few shadows
- Choose identifiable food (e.g. pasta, sandwich, vegetables, fruit, salad, cookies, and cakes rather than stew, sauce, dip, or other formless dishes)
- Choose colorful foods in complementary combinations
- Be sure the food is plated in an attractive manner
- Pay attention to the surrounding area and remove extra debris or other items that could distract or make the photo unusable
- Flattering photos of people. Most everyone wants to look good in photos; don’t be afraid to ask your subjects to position themselves differently or to enhance their expression.
- Photograph faces from a flattering angle; typically faces look best photographed from an angle slightly above eye level.
- Be sure that faces are well-lit. Avoid strong light from directly above that will cast shadows on the face.
- Focus on individuals and small groups. Though the occasional photograph of a large group is okay, it’s more inspiring to see the expressions on individuals’ faces. With a photo of a couple or smaller group, you can also capture a sense of camaraderie. Encourage people to lean in toward each other.
- For most CAA activities, it would be appropriate and desired to show that the attendees are having a good time. The exceptions would be if someone is attending an intense speaker presentation or watching a video of factory farming, in which case a more concerned expression would be appropriate. For other social events and group activities, encourage those being photographed to smile. Just saying “smile” before you snap the photo might be all that’s required. If there’s one person in the group who’s not smiling, feel free to encourage that individual to smile and then take another photo.
- If people are wearing non-CAA logos or other messages on their clothing, avoid putting those images in the frame.
- Take multiple photos. After taking the photo, check the saved image, and then try, try again. If you are photographing event attendees, please be sensitive not to monopolize with more than two or three attempts to get the perfect photo.
- Refer to volunteer instructions for individual events for additional guidelines that are tailored to the specific event, such as Twin Cities Veg Fest, the Vegan Chili Cook-Off, the annual banquet, pay-per-view, food giveaways, tabling, and leafleting.
- Contact your volunteer supervisor about when, where, and how to upload photos after the event.