We all know that images make the difference between a mediocre webpage and one that really commands the attention of your readers. But, if your primary method of finding images involves right-clicking and downloading an image from Google search results, a cease-and-desist email from a commercial image provider may be in your future. As critical as images are, you should never violate copyright laws just to include an incredible picture of a Passover Seder plate on your website. So, before you ask for a line-item in your budget for purchasing images from Getty Images or iStock we encourage you to consider the most-cost effective option of all – asking your community for help.
Here are some suggestions to help you get started
Members of your community are already attending your events and capturing tons of pics with their phones and digital cameras. Ask them to share their images with you. Chances are most members are happy to share their great moments and would be proud to have them appear on your website. And if you do use a member's image, be sure to give them credit.
Never post a picture of a member or especially a member's child without first obtaining permission. Consider including a simple waiver as a part of your religious school or early childhood application. Parents and other guardians should specifically sign off on having images of their child appear on your website or in other promotional materials.
Ask the Adults Too:
Requiring all participants to sign a written waiver the second they walk through the door of your next Shabbaton could be a little off-putting, but asking a simple yes or no question is not. So, before you snap a pic, take a moment and ask if it's okay. Let them know that you might use that picture on your website or in your next newsletter. It's also a great opportunity to introduce yourself and give newcomers a friendly welcome.
Make it Easy to Share Images:
Tell your members how they can share their photos with you. Whether it’s by setting up a designated email address, using a photo share program like Cluster, or creating a private Facebook page, make it simple for people to get you their best shots.
Give your Photographers Guidelines:
Tired of receiving images showing the backs of heads and blurred faces? Let people know exactly what you are looking for in a website worthy-pic by providing them with a checklist or guide. If you tell them that you are looking for small groups of people of mixed ages having fun, it makes it easier for them to deliver. Also, if square images work best for your website instead of panoramic layouts, tell your community that, too.
Answer the Why:
Why do you want to include images of your community on your website? Is it because you want to share moments from the event with others who attended? Do you want to use the images to promote next year’s event? Once you figure out the answer to exactly why you want images, share those reasons with your members. It will only encourage them to send you their pics and builds community at the same time.
Reaching out to your members for assistance not only solves the practical problem of where and how to acquire images. It also ensures that your website authentically reflects the vibrancy of your organization and as a bonus, it strengthens member engagement.