How to make the most of photo and video within your project

Photo and video can be vital to your promotion and dissemination strategy. Whether your project uses social media, a website or traditional marketing materials such as newsletters and posters, including photos and videos helps to make them visually appealing and engaging. 

We recently interviewed Raphael Harfaux from Everything is Possible and Allie Walton-Robson from Headway Arts to discover how they use photo and video.

Why is using photo and video important?

“Photo and video are important to convince young people about these opportunities,” said Raphael. “When we tell them there’s a fully funded project, they are suspicious, but seeing a video from their friend is much more believable.”

Erasmus+ Learning Networks photo and video workshop

Allie added: “We work with people who may struggle to communicate, so we use a lot of visual tools and it’s a great way to show people what they might experience. We take loads of photos and encourage other people to take photos, and we use these as part of the reflective process which is really embedded in the mobilities.”

How do you get participants involved?

“90% of what we publish is the work of young people – I wouldn’t be able to do all this by myself,” said Raphael. 

“We create a contract with our participants; we give them a guide at the beginning of a project including the branding and logo. We then give them tasks to complete, for example: ‘take one photo of you with a nice background looking at the camera, three pictures of you in action not looking at the camera, two pictures of you socialising’. 

“We ask for a maximum of six pictures each and we train them on how to take good photos. Then my work is just to collect this material and publish it online.”

The priority is not the quality, it’s the authenticity. When you have a video which is too polished, it can look more like PR.

“Part of engaging in the project is asking what the participants can offer,” Allie explained. “Look how you can work with them to create content. 

“The young people we work with are experts in terms of everyday photo and video and they bring this to the projects. If they actively engage in the process then they will get to be in the videos, so that entices them to take photos and videos of each other.

“We use WhatsApp to collect information, we ask to be sent just one or two per day of things that were really important to them and their experience. The WhatsApp group is partly to help communication throughout the project, but it also helps with collecting materials for dissemination work.”

What software do you use?

“For a long video of 3-4 minutes, then I like to work with professional software such as Adobe Photoshop or Premiere Pro. If it’s short, then you can just do it from your phone using something like YouCut video editing,” said Raphael.

Everything is Possible dissemination postcard

“Boomerang is really easy to use; it’s so lively and gives a great snapshot on social media,” Allie added. “We do have video makers in the team and we use professional tools, but we also do a lot of our videos on iPhones because the quality is so good. 

“Don’t be put off by feeling like you need professional videos. You can make really good quality videos using phones, but I would recommend investing in a microphone. You can get ones that plug straight into your phone that aren't big so it’s very easy to pop in your bag and carry around with you. Those mics are quite inexpensive, so it’s worth investing in."

What challenges have you faced?

“Getting the pictures can be a challenge. I have to chase them to get the photos and remind them that it’s part of their project to send us content. Having meaningful pictures can also be tricky,” Raphael said. Headway Arts project activities collage

“We have projects in cat and donkey sanctuaries, and the participants send me great pictures of them working but there is never a cat or donkey in sight! The action is great, but people need to understand where you are and what you are doing from the picture. 

“As a technical challenge, the wind can be a real issue along with background noise, because we don’t have fancy equipment.”

“A real challenge for us is making sure the photos tell the story of the project,” Allie said. “Also making sure people are included, particularly in the video work. 

“Because we work with people with learning difficulties, we make sure they are involved and interviewed and represented in the materials, because that’s very much what our project is about. Making sure that message from our work comes across is important.”

Any other advice?

“The priority is not the quality, it’s the authenticity. When you have a video which is too polished, it can look more like PR, whereas a video that’s a bit shaky, taken as a selfie, lots of background noise – this probably has a stronger impact than something you have spent a week editing,” Raphael said.

“The young people need to be ‘the hero’ of the photo – we want pictures of them cooking, them working. We always ask for landscape because portrait can be a nightmare to produce things with afterwards. 

“For videos, it’s important to remember that there are three ways to provide information. Use a close-up shot to portray feelings, this is great to include in an interview to get the emotions across. Mid-shot where you can see hands and upper body – you can understand a bit better what the person is doing. Then you have the wide shot of the whole room where you can understand the context. It’s important to use all three angles.”

Allie said: “Review after each session, don’t wait until you’ve got lots of content and you have forgotten what you were trying to say with that image. I delete the ones I don’t think are very good straight away and then annotate what point I was trying to get across, either by naming the file or jotting down in a notebook with a reference. 

“This is a great way to keep an eye on reporting and dissemination and will be really useful when you come to put together video content as you will know exactly what you wanted to say.” 

Want to find out more about photo and video? Watch our recent photo and video workshop recording now!