Show Cheer, Not Checks

Posted on Nov 16, 2016


Do you cringe when asked to photograph people holding an oversized check?

Your goal is to communicate with readers. To do that, pictures should connect with readers at a base level. Many pictures are universal, sharing a moment of love, pain, wonder or other emotion.

A picture with a plaque or big check is not a universal picture.

“Sometimes you have to use staged pictures, but focus on pictures that tap into universal feelings,” photographer David LaBelle advises. “I’m not against big checks. I’m against placing them on the cover. The general public does not care about those pictures. Someone does, so you can set aside a certain place on your local pages for them. But remember: pictures of people with plaques or big checks do not drive engagement or reading.”

After taking the expected big-check picture, look for casual moments connected to the story. If the check was a donation for a food pantry, get shots of donors stocking the shelves. If the donation supports scholarships, ask to spend an afternoon with a former student who now works in the community.

Capture pictures of the people affected by the money. Those are images you can take to the bank.

Large check with a ban mark struck through it.

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