The crew of the Greenpeace ship MY Arctic Sunrise construct a ‘heart’ with the flags of the 193 country members of the United Nations on an ice floe north of the Arctic Circle. © Daniel Beltra / Greenpeace
In a recent interview the magazine for pro photographers Photo District News spoke to John Novis, head of photography at Greenpeace International about the way his organisation uses photography to further their mission. (The article is here, sadly behind a paywall.)
For the past three years, Greenpeace has won World Press Photo competition prizes for news and nature stories they’ve commissioned — showing their commitment to quality photography, and also showing how the lines between journalism work for publications and for non-profits and NGOs are blurring.
Novis was very clear about the results Greenpeace get for their investment in quality photography (emphasis mine). “ We have always put a big budget in visuals. Everything we do, we film or photograph. We hire good freelancers, go to remote places and do good stories. . . It used to be basic direct action [coverage] on the hard news side. Now there’s much more documentation and stories in response to environmental news events.”
He’s also very keen on adding a multimedia element to the work the photographers are doing as the expectations change: “Everything is more Web based, so we’ve been doing a lot of work that combines photography, video and audio.”
One element of this is the Greenpeace Photos iPad app — a regularly-updated portfolio application that showcases the best of Greenpeace photography.
Like all NGOs and non-profits Greenpeace is trying to have the most impact for the least amount of money. If they’re investing so heavily in quality photography, it’s obviously because it works.
That old online forum cliché that ‘this thread is useless without pics” has never been more true across the internet, especially for social media channels. Look for strong stories in the work you’re doing, and then tell them visually. Are there events, programs and projects that your organisation is engaged in that aren’t getting the photography they need?