I’m a big fan of using the right photo at the right time when it comes to nonprofit marketing. A little extra care in how you treat photos can make a big difference in the look and feel of your marketing piece and people’s reactions to it – an especially important aspect when you are creating a visual portrayal of your last year’s accomplishments in your annual report. I’ve compiled some examples of how other nonprofits are using photos in their annual reports – enjoy!
1. In this AmeriCares annual report, strategic placement of smaller photos in combination with brief text and simple statistics help give a quick overview of services they provide. This layout looks great because it’s uniform – the photos are the same size and even the text is close to the same length to make everything look balanced. The extra white space around everything makes it look clean and organized.
2. Photos with testimonials/quotes are a must; especially when you have seemingly never-ending lists of donors. Photos just make it a whole lot more interesting and people are more likely to stop and take a look instead of skipping the section. Even better when the photo is an action photo, not just people lined up smiling at the camera!
3. I really dislike montages, and I’m so glad they aren’t used in design very often anymore. They are, for the most part, unattractive and cluttered looking – dividing a person’s attention so much that they don’t know where to look. This is a modified montage used by NAACP that works well to showcase their then vs. now photos – they did a great job of tying the older photos together with the current one on top but not covering too much of the other photos – and leaving a quadrant of mostly space helps get rid of any possible cluttered feeling.
4. This photo has a blurred background (a great effect you can accomplish in photohop) that helps keep the overlaying text more visible. Notice that the color of the text ties in with the colors in the photo and the blue band on the left is used to ground the color, tying everything together even more. Even the color of her hair goes with the overall coloring of the photo (most likely done with a filter) and ties in with the color scheme of the overall report – this is because the photo was carefully selected and/or modified to work well.
5. This scrapbook effect with tilted photos and handwriting (often seen with photos that look like polaroids and taped corners) helps make the page look more home-y and increases the chances it will get read. There is just something about seeing handwriting that says – oh – personal note – this might be interesting.
6. Photo strips can work well, as long as you can stick to 3 or 4 only (so it doesn’t start to look cluttered) – when you use small photos, it’s really important that they stand out as much as possible in order to be seen. In this example, removing the photo backgrounds and adding the photos to a page that has lots of “white” space – helps a lot. I prefer to keep people’s head sizes more in proportion with each other – in this example I would have cropped the middle photo wider and resized the photo smaller so the photo would look more “zoomed out” but stayed the same size as the others.
7. Masking people’s faces onto text can be interesting but only if it ‘s done right. I’ve seen instances where people’s faces were so big within the letter that you couldn’t even identify what it was and it can look unbelievably creepy. The faces work in this example because they are visible enough to be recognizable. As a general rule of thumb though, you don’t want to put faces on blue or green backgrounds – it can make them look unhealthy!
8. I personally think annual reports should be equal parts images and text – and splitting the page this way is a perfect way to accomplish this. In this example, the text is minimal, with lots of white space and everything is tied together with the brown colors used in the header on the photo and the text below the photo. The colors are pulled directly from the photo – which is the best way to make everything look cohesive.
9. Using cute kids to hold signs is really popular right now. I don’t know about you – but it seems to be that they are being seriously over-used. And I think using kids to promote stuff they may not be 100% aware of or concerned with, can sometimes be crossing a fine line – so care should be taken to not go overboard!
10. Its’ great to show more than one photo when telling a story. You can use one photo as the larger focal point and a smaller thumbnail photo to accent it. This example from Sick Kids Foundation uses a magazine-like layout with the 2nd photo inset into the larger photo.
11. This is another way to showcase a grouping of photos without the clutter of a montage. This example from American Farmland, shows one focal point photo that bleeds to the edges and then the smaller photos banded by a nice white border – the white border should be a good size (too skinny and the photos can look more cluttered). Notice the band of red at the bottom, pulled from the red in the photo, that pulls everything together (what I call grounding).
12. In this example, the Carter Center creatively used some color filters to accent the photo – it adds color and interest to the page without detracting from the overall photo and message. This is also another example of a nice balance between photo and text.
13. Here is another example using thumbnail photos to add visual interest to some statistics. They also used an image in the background with a transparency filter to make the photo light enough that the items on top stand out better – but with enough photo showing to make it look interesting.
14. When you are using full page photos, don’t think that you have to keep the photo literally on the one page. It can be very dramatic to extend the photo onto the facing page of your annual report, like this example from NRDC. They also kept the text on the facing page minimal with lots of white space which draws attention to both the text itself and the beautiful photo.