One thing that always makes me cringe is when I see lousy photos used by nonprofits in their print and electronic communications. Photography is such a powerful medium—nothing makes an emotional connection with viewers more quickly. It deserves to be respected for that power and used to full advantage.
I know that’s not easy for many nonprofits that don’t have access to: 1) great photos or 2) costly photoshop software. But now there’s Picnik—a free photo editing site that can help you make your photos the very best they can be. It’s so creative and fun, you’ll feel like an artist! A quick registration process and you’re all ready to upload photos from your computer, Picasa, Webshots, Photobucket, Facebook, and other online storage sites.
Keep in mind, that no photo editing software can really make up for poor composition, a shot that “says” nothing, or a shot that is completely out of focus. But Picnik can do about everything else–change color, change size, sharpen, change exposure, get rid of red eye, rotate, etc. And there’s a free advanced editing option with most of these features that lets you move a little farther toward perfection. (Note: There are other free photo editing sites online, but Picnik is my personal favorite.)
You can also use the Create function on Picnik to give unique artistic treatments to photos (e.g., neon, drawing, sepia tone, b/w, vignette, grain, etc.), add text and graphics, use different framing techniques, and create collages and slideshows. Here’s a short how-to video.
It’s probably worthwhile to issue a little warning not to go overboard with photo editing. What you’re after for the vast majority of your shots is good composition, contrast, exposure, focus, and accurate color. You don’t want to distract people with unnecessary special effects.
For $25, you can upgrade to premium membership and become the DaVinci of photo retouch. It’s a pretty reasonable price and you get some great additional effects and tools, but small nonprofits may not need that luxury. There’s enough on the free site to keep your creativity flowing for quite a while.
Other neat features include a Firefox browser add-on that lets you take screen shots of any Web page and manipulate it in creative ways. (Firefox is a terrific, fast, free browser you can download online.) Here’s a short video showing you what’s possible with that add-on.
I encourage nonprofits to spend time making their photographs the highest quality possible. It really boosts the impact of your communications.
Don’t forget to download my new, free 20-page eBook on best practices in nonprofit Web site design!
CC photo credit: cobalt123