How to create an image library for churches and community organisations.

I’m sure that journaling our stories through images consistently and over the long term will lead to an invaluable resource. A catalogue of images that truly reflect our organisation’s values and activities can help celebrate achievements and protect our future.

I’ve been working with the Woodhouse Community Centre in Leeds and a number of local churches in Bradford to improve the presentation of their communities online.

The one big stumbling block, it seems to me, is the availability of decent images. Community organisations are about people, what they do and how they relate to each other. The use of images can show who you are and what you do much more powerfully than endless paragraphs of explanation.

Text heavy websites or magazines are simply not going to be engaging enough for the majority of people these days. Of course we do our best to find images we can use but they are often of poor quality and don’t represent the range of people and activities in our communities.

The safeguarding issues around children often mean that children are not represented on websites at all, or at least very little. The photos we use rarely represent smaller groups where the presence of a camera may be intrusive.

The absence of images can make us invisible – for example whenever my wife an I go on holiday you’d think she went on her own by the absence of photos of me! Our churches may seem to be populated by older people who stand in rows smiling and looking towards the camera but not actually doing anything.

If we are going to do this properly we’ll need three things in place.

  1. A policy for obtaining photos and using them online. This means understanding what we can and can’t show, how we obtain permission and what the copyright rules are, among other things.
  2. People who know what they are doing – i.e. photographers who understand the rules, the needs of the website and how to take a decent photo. Publishers who know the history of the photos and can make good decisions about how they are used.
  3. A place to store and catalogue the photos so they can be accessed by the people who need them.

Here I’m going to suggest that we use Flickr to store and catalogue images. It’s only a suggestion and I’m open to any other thoughts about how to manage an accessible library of images for use on the web and other publications.

Heres a video. To see it properly you may need to use the ‘full screen’ button bottom right of the player.