The Power of Photographs

Before today’s blog post…
It’s summer – and many moons ago during the dark days when network TV ruled the airwaves, this was a time for reruns. As I head off for a family wedding in Ohio with no time to spare (congrats, Heather and Nick!), it seems like a good time for me to do a rerun of my own. But first a couple of things:
1.  The horrific actions in Orlando compel us to want to do something. Write a letter, go to a vigil, pray, fight like the dickens to get rid of assault weapons, pray, give money to the LGBTQ community, and pray some more. Equality Florida has a Go Fund Me page “Support Victims of Pulse Shooting.” I strongly encourage you to do one or more of these things.
2.  A couple of weeks ago I asked you to send thank you letters that you had written. I got a few but I really want to see more. Send me thank you letters you have written or a thank you letter that you received that made you feel great. Send them to inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com Of course, thank you.
And now, on to the summer’s first rerun:
The Power of Photographs
(Originally published April 2, 2014)
Three weeks ago I changed my Facebook profile picture. I hadn’t switched my photo in ages – and truth be told, I am more of a Facebook lurker anyway. I rarely post, but I love to see what other people are doing.  So imagine my surprise when 125 people “liked” my photo and another 33 commented on it. 
Now I wish I could say it was because everyone thought that I looked like Angelia Jolie’s or Gwyneth Paltrow’s long-lost twin (Oh? You thought I looked like Jennifer Anniston? Flattery will get you everywhere) but I am convinced that so many people liked the photo, not because of me, but because of my DOG. Yep – who doesn’t love to see an awesome, beautiful dog like JayD?  The owner just showed up to take some space.
You too should take note of the power of photographs and use them in your stewardship materials, letters, and fliers. There’s no excuse not to – it’s so easy to insert photos anywhere. But please, make them good photographs.  Start by:
- Taking photos every chance you get. Document the excellent work you and your congregation are doing.
- Capturing a story – what’s in the background? What do you want the reader to know? What impression are you hoping to leave?
- Knowing that closer is better. Group shots are OK – a couple of close-ups are even better. Photos of one or two people (or a person and her dog) convey more emotion than a crowd shot of 15 people – unless you are telling a story of the massive number of people who attended an event. Feel free to crop too.
- Framing and focusing correctly will make a difference. Off center is better than a straight on shot. In fact, despite me trying to avoid math at all costs, the “rule of thirds” is an excellent way to make your photographs 100% better. 
So my friends, there’s your photography lesson for the day – because knowing how to take and use the right photos will ensure that your awesome ministries receive the attention that they should. But most importantly, for a truly unforgettable photograph, don’t forget the kitten or puppy...it worked for me.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2.5 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She is working on a new profile photo with her daughter’s hamster. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation; she is available to consult with churches in Oregon and Idaho. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.