Your church photography serves both your first-time visitors and long-time members in several ways.
Very often, those who are considering visiting your church will look at your images to get a sense of the feel of your church, its culture, and whether they could imagine themselves investing in your community for the long haul.
Below are seven strategies to create highly effective church photographs that will make new visitors want to come back and existing members feel that their church is marketing itself well to the community.
1. Shoot with a DSLR.
A DSLR camera enables you to use high-quality lenses to create what photographers call bokeh, which is a fancy way of saying “blurry background.”
This element often distinguishes between amateur and professional photography.
Lenses with low aperture capabilities are able to capture better images in lower lighting and create a thinner depth of field for the image, which creates a higher contrast between the details of the image’s subject and background are more contrasted.
If you can’t afford a DSLR camera for your church, an iPhone 7+ will work in its portrait mode for photos that are up close, but the portrait mode is fickle and doesn’t work for a subject more than 8 feet away.
2. Create the best lighting possible.
One of the best things you can do your church photographs is to find good lighting.
Very often, the best lighting conditions are those that don’t create a high contrast, and yet illuminate every subject you want to include in your image.
This means that you should try to avoid shooting outside on very sunny days so that peoples’ eyes, noses, and faces aren’t blacked out by the shadows of the sun directly over them. A great solution to this is to shoot inside pictures on sunny days or to take as many pictures as possible on overcast days, which light everything well, but don’t create much contrast.
One of the best ways to create high-quality portrait photos inside is to use photography lighting so that you can lower the aperture on your camera and highlight the subjects of your church photographs.
3. Use the same filter across all images.
Whether you use a faded, high-contrast, or saturated image filter, make sure that you use the same filter as a template so that your images look uniform across all your platforms.
This is especially true for social media, which can very easily look unprofessional if it is not uniform.
This may be something that you consult a designer to create for you. With each modification on an image, you risk making each image look less and less uniform.
4. Determine what outlets your images are intended for.
Why are you taking photographs? Are you using them for your church archive? For a pamphlet? For your website? For your church directory?
Make sure to know what the intended venue for publication is, if possible, before you take a picture.
Print colors are often different from web colors.
Higher saturation can work better on certain kinds of paper, and your Instagram photos need to be edited to dovetail with the aesthetic of your church’s visual brand across all social media platforms.
5. Showcase authenticity.
When people look at your church’s images, they are looking for authenticity.
When you show pictures of people, authenticity is key. Don’t use anything that is overly posed or fake. Think more like a photojournalist. They capture real moments.
6. Capture the story of your church.
Capture hugs, welcome moments, conversations between friends, preaching clips on stage, and moments of authentic worship.
Capture what’s around your church. The community, city or farmland. Those can also tell the story of your church.
7. Present real people in your church.
While it’s good to capture real moments in your church—community, worship, etc.—you should also allow for moments to be sacred. Don’t be intrusive. Remember that people are trying to connect with God, not be the subject of a photo.
One of the ways you can accommodate for this is to dress in a way that you are not distracting (all black), use a silent DSLR camera, don’t use flash when rooms are intentionally dimly lit, and use a longer sports photography lens so that you don’t have to get distractingly close to people in order to capture their experience while retaining high image quality.
These strategies will help you to create a uniform church photograph strategy in your church.
Here is one bonus tip:
If you don’t have the budget for a high-quality church photographer, you can use a stock photography website with high-resolution images like Unsplash.com.
However, as soon as possible, you should find a photographer volunteer or local professional photographer to come in for a special church event—even a simple Sunday service in which all of your signage and branding is on display—and take as many photographs as possible so that you can use them for the next several years in marketing, web design, pop-ups, and print resources.