Church photography has proven to be an effective strategy that helps you reach more people. This blog covers the details on how you should manage your photography team in a way that allows for maximum potential because your goal is to reach more people. Before you read this blog, we encourage you to check out an earlier post on church photography, 10 Ways Church Photography Helps you Reach People.
After taking a look at the 10 Ways blog, you can read this blog with a sense of intentionality as you plan your execution of effective church photography.
It’s likely that your photographers serve a few times per month, which means they might feel like they are getting the same shots over and over again. I mean, how many times can you take a random-person-smiling-in-the-lobby picture, am I right?
So, how can you tap into a photographer’s creative inspiration, while also getting the content you need to show people what is happening in your church? You give them some key shots to shoot for (no pun intended).
Understanding that photography plays an integral role for your church, we are going to walk through some specific facets of church photography for you to use to your advantage.
In this post we’ll look at five things your photographers should be covering on a weekly basis:
The Kids Area
When a parent is checking their child in to a church’s kids ministry for the first time, they want reassurance that the environment their child will be in for the next hour or so will be safe, clean, and fun! Photos of the kids area can put a parent at ease before they ever set foot in the building.
Posting a photo of a kids classroom where the children look bored, or if it looks like a cluttered or dirty environment, will not make parents excited for their kids to be learning about Jesus while they’re in the main service!
Things to focus on:
- Volunteers who look like they love serving the kids
- Children with big smiles on their faces (try to make it your goal to NEVER post a picture of a child unless they are smiling)
- Class participation from the kids (these can be staged)
Sometimes kids are distracted while a teacher is giving a lesson. Try having a volunteer lead a round of “Simon Says” and have all the kids sit on the floor or jump high in the air or raise their right hand, then you have the perfect picture! Additionally, the kids will now be alert and ready to listen to the rest of the Bible lesson.
When searching for a church for the first time, most people will visit a church’s website or social media pages. They will be looking for things like, “What is everybody wearing? Do people look happy to be there? What does the building look like? Where should I go once I get through the doors?”
All of these things can be captured by your photographers and posted so that everyone knows you are excited and ready to welcome them into your church!
Things to focus on: (these two go hand-in-hand)
- Realize that most photographers are used to covering events like weddings or parties or conferences
- Have them “cover the event” like they’re storytelling from the perspective of someone who’s never been to your church before
Your guests would be greeted in the parking lot with a big wave and a smile. They would walk in the front doors with maybe somebody holding the doors for them and smiling there. You might have a guest area where new people can visit and you may have coffee or small snacks to offer them.
In addition, your guests would drop off their kids in the kids area and then will walk into your worship area where they should be more smiling volunteers greeting them at the doors there. And of course, they would experience the service.
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The worship experience at your church may seem like it looks similar every week, but your photographers can see it with a creative eye and capture engaging, dynamic shots that are different every time.
Things on which to focus:
- Have your photographers focus on getting one great shot of every person on the stage
- Be sure to include band members.
- Encourage them to use the stage lights as inspiration for a shot.
- Remind them that every song is different
Are lights coming from the very top of the ceiling? Maybe include those lights in the frame in a very wide shot. Do you have lights that sweep across the audience? Make sure to get some shots of the patterned lights in your worship area. Is there a spotlight on one singer? Get a shot of the spotlight so you can tell it is a specific and meaningful moment.
As stated before, remind your photographers that every song is different–the tempo of the first song might be upbeat and people may be clapping their hands and smiling, but the second or third song might be very introspective with people raising their hands or praying, and it’s important to capture both types of worship!
In order to promote the content that is being produced by your church, you will need great photos of whoever is speaking on the platform, whether it’s a guest speaker or your teaching pastor. A flattering photo of a speaker is difficult (some are more difficult than others), and it takes a lot of practice to get a great photo.
This is why it is recommended that every photographer captures a speaker photo every time they serve. The practice is extremely beneficial, and it never hurts to have more photos of your pastors or speakers!
Things to focus on:
- Different focal lengths and sides of the room. If your photographers have a specific “spot” where they always capture the speaker photo, you’ll never have great variety in your shots. Allow them to move about the room from week to week.
A photographer is typically able to move around a very large auditorium with minimal distraction, but a photographer moving around in an auditorium of less than 1,000 seats may be a distraction to the congregation. The most important thing for a speaker photo is this, in fact, this is what I tell my photographers, “If you would not want your face to be making that face in a photo, it is not a good speaker photo.”
- Speakers should either be smiling or have a “teaching face” that looks intelligent or engaging. Although some “silly speaker photos” always get a good laugh when shared between team members.
Every photographer is different with different backgrounds. The thing that has made the biggest difference in our photography ministry is playing to the strengths of our photographers.
Things to focus on:
- Every photographer is different.
- Play to the strengths of your photographers.
When you’re dealing with a photographer who mostly captures weddings and family portraits, make sure they are positioned to get those awesome moments with kids and with friend groups in the lobby.
If you have a photographer who specializes in landscape and architecture photography, make sure they get the opportunity to get awesome shots of your building from the outside and each of the rooms showcasing the best of your facility.
If your photographer loves photographing bands or theatre performances, give them the chance to shine with fantastic worship photos. They will be masters of the timing of the music and be able to get those shots that are unique and captivating.
It’s your choice if you want every photographer to capture all five of these each time they serve or if you want to assign one specific shot type per photographer and rotate through so that the same person isn’t always shooting one area.
Mixing it up is the best way to keep creativity flowing, and never be afraid to ask the photographers what they want to be photographing! They might have ideas you’ve never thought of!
Take a look at these great examples of church photography here!
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