7 types of photo stories every conservation nonprofit needs
Conservation nonprofits who aren't investing in photographers and filmmakers to tell their stories are missing out BIG TIME. Here's 7 kinds of stories you can make for nonprofits that'll help build trust, stoke community spirit, and ramp up fundraising.
It's a sad reality, but many conservation nonprofits – especially smaller organizations – don't truly value photography.
Or rather, they appreciate the need for photographs, but too many ignore the real necessity of visual storytelling.
Working alongside a photographer to craft visual stories is seen as a luxury, or something they don't need or want to budget for because they'll use snapshots from volunteers (or worse, submissions from rights-grabby photo contests) to decorate their website.
But the truth is, visual storytelling is an investment with an undeniable R.O.I. for conservation nonprofits.
Storytelling connects audiences to the mission, values and work of the organization.
Beautifully, skillfully made visual stories build trust, which leads to a bigger member base, which leads to more donations and volunteers.
They also lead to a more attractive application for grants, and impresses potential funders.
And, they also provide content a nonprofit can use again, and again, and again to share its mission, goals and on-the-ground work with audiences.
Even though the value is undeniable, often it's tough to convince a nonprofit to invest in bringing aboard a photographer or filmmaker with storytelling chops. (No, not a photographer who creates a pile of stand-alone images… a storyteller.)
Tough, but very possible. And most of the time, worth the effort.
One place to start is by figuring out what type of stories a nonprofit could really use, and outlining what you'll make for them, plus all the ways they could use that story to connect with audiences.
If you want to collaborate with a nonprofit but aren't sure what to make – or how to show how valuable your visual stories are to their mission and fundraising – this episode will pave the way for you.
In this episode, I dig into 7 types of photo stories you can create for nonprofits, plus where they can roll the stories out and get the most use from them.
Resources & Links Mentioned
- Siuslaw Watershed Council:
- Wild Salmon Center
- Impact Media Lab
- Nature Conservancy – On the Move: Interactive StoryMap on Imperiled Pronghorn Journey (the story of specific species, habitats or locations)
- 6 Must-Have Shots for a Photo Story Training
- Conservation Photography 101
A story of a nonprofit donor
A story of a conservation issue through the eyes of a community member
A story of a conservation issue through the eyes of a scientist
A story of a conservation issue through the eyes of a business (trailer)
This episode is sponsored by:
Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy trains photographers and filmmakers who are passionate about conservation and science.
We are the only online education platform designed specifically for conservation photographers and filmmakers. Our ever-growing selection of robust online courses, in-person workshops, mentorship programs, and membership community are designed specifically to address the unique skills and resources you need as you focus on documenting environment, science communication, and conservation issues. We help you follow your passion to be an effective, successful, and joyful conservation visual storyteller.
Photographers & Filmmakers…
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Take the quick quiz to discover your creative super-strengths as a conservation-focused visual storyteller. Get a custom action plan based on your results so that you know exactly what to do next to gain clarity, momentum and impact with your imagery. This is coming straight from a full-time pro conservation photographer/editor with 10 years experience & an obsession with helping you reach your world-changing goals.
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Episode 101: 7 types of photo stories every conservation nonprofit needs
(Digitally transcribed, please forgive any typos)
E 100 - nonprofit photo stories
[00:00:00] Jaymi: Hey there and welcome to impact the conservation photography podcast. Now, recently I got an email from a nonprofit whose mailing list I'm subscribed to, and I love getting their emails. They're always, , holding these really interesting educational events like webinars or lectures with scientists, and they often are emailing about new campaigns and things that they need signatures for, want people to call representatives to comment on what's happening for conservation issues.
[00:00:29] Jaymi: And I, I love reading their emails. So I open up this email and it's about a photo contest. Now photo contests are really common things for nonprofits to hold. It can be a way to raise money. It can be a way to raise basically a stock image library. See, here's, what's a little bit frustrating to me about photo contests.
[00:00:50] Jaymi: For a lot of these photo contests, if you're interested in submitting, I really encourage you to go in and look at terms and what the contest guidelines are [00:01:00] and what it means when you submit images. Because the frustrating part for me about so many of these photo contests is that when you look at the terms, when you enter an image into the contest, you are granting a license for that entity.
[00:01:16] Jaymi: Whoever's holding the contest to use your images. And so I, I went into this particular nonprofits, submission guidelines and the rules and everything, and started digging in. And sure enough, when you enter any image, you are granting them an irrevocable perpetual license to use the image. However they want for marketing, for advertising, for web, for whatever they feel like using.
[00:01:42] Jaymi: And that's not only if you win, basically you're paying them an entry fee so that they get to use your images for free forever. And to me, I just don't like that. It feels like a big image, right? Scrap, it feels like nonprofits [00:02:00] building up a free stock image library. And it's also, I feel like not necessarily that helpful to the nonprofit,
[00:02:10] Jaymi: and it's definitely not helpful for folks who are trying to make a living in conservation photography, where working with nonprofits would be a really important part of kind of fulfilling our mission as photographers and who we would love to work with. Right. So to me, contests that are built like this, that feel sort of like an image rights grab.
[00:02:31] Jaymi: I feel like it's detrimental both to professional photographers or photographers who are simply wanting to even get financially reimbursed for their work. I. And it's detrimental to the nonprofits. So here's why storytelling connects visitors to the mission, to the values, to the work of the nonprofit.
[00:02:50] Jaymi: When a nonprofit can visually share their story, they end up building sort of a way to attract and build [00:03:00] trust with an audience. I mean, consider this, which website are you gonna spend time exploring one that has a handful of pages with text and some pretty images, but they're kind of random and, and purely decorative.
[00:03:11] Jaymi: Or are you going to explore a website that is filled with rich visual stories that explain and explore the mission there, uh, stories that show you the challenges of the work and the people who are involved with that? Nonprofit, which nonprofit are you going to go and follow on social media? Which email list are you going to want to sign up for?
[00:03:33] Jaymi: See, we are hardwired for story and visual stories are a really incredibly powerful tool for trust building and for education too. And speaking of trust, a big trust builder among audiences is a nonprofit, having a professional appearance through this cohesive in depth storytelling imagery. It's a sign that they're well organized.
[00:03:57] Jaymi: It's a sign that they have this really deep and [00:04:00] thorough connection to their mission and that they actually know how to communicate their mission. It's a huge trust builder and visual stories accomplished this, that heightened professional polished vibe that builds trust then leads to more donations.
[00:04:16] Jaymi: It leads to having a competitive edge when it comes to landing grants and getting funding.
[00:04:21] Jaymi: So for a nonprofit, that is something that you pull off by investing in visual storytellers, through photographers and filmmakers who have know how to capture compelling imagery. It's not done by grabbing a bunch of standalone shots in a photo contest that you can then stockpile for social posts or, or use how you wish it's done through cohesive high quality storytelling.
[00:04:46] Jaymi: And this is another power of investing in quality visual stories, cuz see single standalone images. They are good for single standalone posts or articles, one and done. You could [00:05:00] reuse that image of course, but you'd need to wait a while so that it feels kind of new again. And sometimes that image works and sometimes it, it doesn't depending, maybe on season or whatever.
[00:05:09] Jaymi: Instead consider having a portfolio of images that tell stories about the nonprofit's mission and activities. Imagine being able to create a series of posts that unveil that story piece by piece. And so folks who are following along are getting engaged and staying engaged in that story over time. So imagine being able to repurpose the same portfolio of images again and again, because they're part of a story that you can and need to tell again and again, visual stories have a long term value for nonprofits. So here's an example of that actually playing out Siuslaw watershed council is a watershed council, uh, near where I live in Oregon. And a couple years ago they hired professional photographers and filmmakers, two photographers and one filmmaker, and they invested grant [00:06:00] money in hiring these visual storytellers to create imagery and short films.
[00:06:06] Jaymi: And the result is this really professional looking richly illustrated website. I spent about a half an hour. On this website, going through all of the stories and the films that they created, which in this day and age, that is an unheard of amount of time to spend on a single website. But because of all of this, like really interesting visual content, all of these short films, a story map, all of it, it's a journey into the why of this watershed council's mission.
[00:06:35] Jaymi: And it's done at a depth that I've never really seen before. And there's also this abundance now of media assets that the Sause law watershed council can use in different capacities for literally years to come. So not only are they getting people locally or even beyond the local area, really understanding their mission and what they do, and they're engaged with what the watershed council is [00:07:00] doing, but they also have this library of really cohesive content that they get to use again.
[00:07:06] Jaymi: And again and again, that is exceptional, right? And that's nothing that you can accomplish. An image rights, grab from hopeful volunteers in a photo contest. now I will say that the Seus law watershed council does have a photo contest that also does the same thing in terms of, you know, rights as the nonprofit whose email sparked this podcast episode.
[00:07:29] Jaymi: But they're also investing in hiring photographers and filmmakers. And that tells me that the photo contest is a helpful kind of community oriented event that helps with media assets, but that the nonprofit knows exactly how important it is to hire skilled experience creatives, to pull off the bulk of their storytelling.
[00:07:48] Jaymi: It makes the contest kind of a lot less frustrating to see as a professional. And it makes the council a truly fantastic example of how a nonprofit can use funding for [00:08:00] visual storytelling. And that, that pays off in spades down the road.
[00:08:05] Jaymi: Now I'm laying down all of this kind of foundation of opinion and information about visual storytelling and its importance to nonprofits. Because for so many of us as conservation, visual storytellers, nonprofits are a big part of who we want to collaborate with. You know, so much of the work that gets done in conservation gets done thanks to nonprofits.
[00:08:28] Jaymi: And so being able to collaborate with them, to lend our creative talents and skills and expertise to these entities is a pretty big deal. We love it. It is fun. We know that we can make an impact. So it's important to really understand that conservation visual storytelling is not just a luxury for a nonprofit.
[00:08:49] Jaymi: It is an essential thing for a nonprofit to actually invest in. And I wanna make that point because if you are someone who's hoping to collaborate with a [00:09:00] nonprofit, whether that is on a volunteer basis, , but you want to be the, the main person providing this cohesive set of storytelling materials, or whether you're wanting to pitch yourself for paid work with a nonprofit that equally benefits you as the pro and the nonprofit in getting their mission and reach across to a bigger audience, then you might be wondering, okay, what kind of visual stories would I create and how might I propose the nonprofits using that? Like, how do I think about the types of stories I can create and show that nonprofit that it's important, it's even essential to have these assets and therefore they want to collaborate with me to create them.
[00:09:41] Jaymi: So that's what I wanna dig into in this episode are visual stories that can be useful for conservation nonprofits. So what you can create for them, and then also where the nonprofit can roll out what you create. And what I'm hoping is that this episode is gonna be filled with all kinds of inspirational [00:10:00] ideas that you can then pitch to a nonprofit that you wanna work with, and they can look at what you're proposing and see the value in that. See what hiring you as a visual storyteller can do for them, for getting that mission across to an audience for growing that audience for being more competitive for funding, for bringing in fresh donations. There are so many ways that nonprofits benefit from smart storytelling.
[00:10:28] Jaymi: So let's go ahead and dig straight into seven opportunities that you have to create conservation photo stories for nonprofits. So the first one is gonna sound a little obvious, but actually when you do some digging around, especially in small local nonprofit websites, you're gonna find that not a lot, actually take the time to make this visual story. And yet it is so important. It is the story of the nonprofit itself and why it does what it does.
[00:10:59] Jaymi: So a [00:11:00] lot of times when you hop onto a nonprofits website, you're gonna see like an about area or like an, our mission page. And it'll give a little blurb about what's going on. Right. But here's the thing. A blurb is not what people want to be able to like really connect and understand why this nonprofit really exists to become invested in the mission, in the why of that nonprofit and therefore wanna support them. Really. What would be far more powerful is to be able to see the visual story of that nonprofit.
[00:11:32] Jaymi: How was it founded? How is the mission lived out today? What is the nonprofit all about? What is their ethos? What does it look like for them to be on the ground? Doing that work? Now the C law watershed, council's gonna come up quite a bit because they're frankly doing an exceptional job on a lot of fronts of using these visual stories.
[00:11:53] Jaymi: So for instance, when you hop into the Seus law watershed council's mission page, the page that says our mission, [00:12:00] it is really your very typical, boring nonprofit page that just states their mission statement.
[00:12:07] Jaymi: They have a single picture of just like some, some lovely landscape. And then it says the Cuse law watershed council supports sound economic, social, and environmental uses of natural and human resources in the Sause law river basin. The council encourages cooperation among public and private watershed entities to promote awareness and understanding of watershed functions by adopting and implementing a total watershed approach to natural resource management and production.
[00:12:34] Jaymi: Oh my God. I hope that you did not just turn off this podcast episode out of shear boredom and switch on something more entertaining because while that mission statement is very clear in what it does. It's really boring. I don't feel connected to this whatsoever. Right. So here's, what's really smart is yes, that mission page is really boring.
[00:12:53] Jaymi: The mission statement is like, okay, I get what you do, but it's super generic. I don't really like, feel anything [00:13:00] towards you. But what they did, that's really smart is they created a page called why we restore . And on that page, they have laid out all of these amazing visual stories. So not only do you dive into a story map and I'm gonna talk more about story maps in a little bit, but this like very immersive visual experience of the history of the Cyla watershed and like why they're actually trying to do what they do as a watershed council,
[00:13:31] Jaymi: but on that page, they also have a, a video that really talks about why, like what their mission really is about. Not just the boring statement, but what it looks like in action to be living out this mission. And then they have all of these short films that talk about partners and volunteers, and why people in the community care about watershed health and what it looks like to restore the watershed, what it looks like to [00:14:00] build species diversity.
[00:14:01] Jaymi: So through the fact that they have this, like why we restore page now we get into the immersive storytelling that makes me hang out, learn more, get attached to this nonprofit. So a, like I said, a lot of nonprofits do not take the time. To really tell their story, especially visually tell their story of how that nonprofit was founded, why it exists, why it does what it does and how that mission is lived out.
[00:14:31] Jaymi: So that is the first story that you could really present to a nonprofit, especially one that has a very boring about page with a simple mission statement and nothing more that doesn't connect audiences to them. It doesn't make people feel committed to making monthly donations or annual donations. I think if a nonprofit were to invest in a single story to hire a visual storyteller, to create and to, to photograph or to film and to build out for them, it is [00:15:00] this the story of itself, why it exists and what it looks like to be living out its mission. That's like foundation fundamental must have for any nonprofit,
[00:15:11] Jaymi: the second type of story that you could create that is incredibly helpful. That really makes people feel connected or to better understand the nonprofit are profiles of the staff and the volunteers. These are really fun stories to create, because it allows you some space to get to know people who are actively involved in the nonprofit.
[00:15:31] Jaymi: You can create these lovely profiles of who the staff is, what their role is, why they are associated with a nonprofit, what their daily life looks like. You could do these profiles of volunteers and what it looks like to be out there working on the nonprofit's mission. Say it is a habitat restoration, nonprofit.
[00:15:50] Jaymi: You can be out there with volunteers as they do invasive species removal or public education events, or, you know, whatever it may look like. But these profiles are [00:16:00] really great opportunities to highlight the people behind this nonprofit. And this is powerful because audiences really connect to stories about other people.
[00:16:09] Jaymi: So like say we are an audience member in the community, and we're curious about this nonprofit. We wanna learn more. We can start to feel really connected to that nonprofit by learning more about the people behind it. So these profiles of staff and volunteers are smart storytelling opportunities for you as a photographer to really dig into and to say, it's not just about a headshot and a little blurb about staff or volunteer, it's about showing them at work.
[00:16:40] Jaymi: It's about showing them doing what they do for this nonprofit. It's about showing that how they live out this nonprofit's mission or activities, and with a much more in depth profile like that. That's how you start to really connect audiences to that nonprofit, to build that sense of community, to build that sense of connection and [00:17:00] grow that nonprofit's audience.
[00:17:02] Jaymi: Potentially also funder base. The third kind of story that you could create that is really valuable for nonprofits is actually the story of a donor and why they support that nonprofit. What drives them, um, and not, I'm not saying what drives them to donate. I'm saying what drives them in their life? What do they care about?
[00:17:24] Jaymi: What have they experienced and how does that connect them to this nonprofit? Who are they as a person and therefore what motivates them to donate? Now, there is a really awesome nonprofit, uh, up here where I'm located in the Pacific Northwest, it's called the wild salmon center and they have done this in a beautiful way.
[00:17:44] Jaymi: They created a very short film called one part magic. And it's a profile of an artist named Sheila Dunn, who is a donor to wild salmon center. And. I love this short film and I'm gonna link to everything, everything that I mentioned [00:18:00] in here, I'm going to link to in the show notes. So if you wanna go watch this short film, you can find it in the show notes.
[00:18:05] Jaymi: You can just go to where you're listening to this podcast episode, and you'll see a link to click over to the show notes and be able to get at all of these links.
[00:18:12] Jaymi: But, , what I love about this short film is that we really get to hear from this artist, like, what is it that has happened in her life, or like who she is, who she is as an artist, why she cares about watersheds and why she cares about the environment. And through that, we understand why she donates to wild salmon center.
[00:18:33] Jaymi: So we get to feel really connected to this one person really inspired by their story and who they are. And then we hear that they donate. And so therefore we are more likely to be curious about donating. We're more likely to be like, man, I, that resonates with me. I wanna learn more about this wild salmon center.
[00:18:51] Jaymi: And if she is a donor, maybe I wanna be one too. . Maybe I wanna learn more about wild salmon center. I wanna learn more about what they do because [00:19:00] I resonate with her. I connect with her. I identify with her and if she's supporting wild salmon center, maybe I do too. This is a brilliant way to get. People to connect to a nonprofit in a way that can directly lead to donations because you're highlighting not only the story of a donor that can connect people, but you're celebrating that donor.
[00:19:20] Jaymi: This is the story of someone who supports this nonprofit. And the nonprofit is saying, we appreciate you. We value you. We see you as a human. We are grateful for what it is that you contribute to us. And so that donor also gets an opportunity to be celebrated. And that stands out that makes audiences connect as well.
[00:19:40] Jaymi: It's one thing to say, yeah, we're gonna put up, a park bench with your name on it, or, uh, we're gonna pave a brick pathway and you get a name on a brick like that is lovely a recognition, but to do a visual story about that person and what they value and they care about in life and how that connects them to the nonprofit that is taking it a step [00:20:00] above, it's a really beautiful opportunity to tell a visual story that goes a long way for that nonprofit.
[00:20:07] Jaymi: The next type of story that you can create is a story about the work itself. Tell the story of the conservation conundrum that the nonprofit is working to solve. What are the conservation issues that, that nonprofit is committed to? And it also, this does not have to be told through the nonprofit.
[00:20:25] Jaymi: Itself. So this is where you can really kind of step away a little bit from telling something through the, the eyes of the nonprofit. And instead tell the story of the work, the conservation work that the nonprofit is dedicated to through different sets of eyes. So for example, you could tell the story through the eyes of a scientist.
[00:20:47] Jaymi: You can approach it by profiling a scientist and their connection to the research. Um, this also works for citizen scientists as well, and maybe through collection of data or looking closely at an [00:21:00] issue that underscores what a nonprofit is working toward.
[00:21:04] Jaymi: And what I love about this approach is that it doesn't need to be dry and static. It's sort of like a blend of that person profile that I talked about a moment ago, along with the story of a conservation issue with this bigger picture. So what factor, and it can be done in a really beautiful way. In fact, there's an example of a story that is kind of a conservation issue is told through a scientist that I really love.
[00:21:27] Jaymi: It's from impact media lab. And it's called in search of honey bloom. And in search of honey bloom, is this lovely short film. Basically follows a scientist, as she's talking about her 20 year restoration experiment in California's Vernal pools. And she talks about what it's meant for her to work in this one kind of ecosystem over time and what this kind of the magic of this place, this, this ecosystem, but also.
[00:21:57] Jaymi: What about this ecosystem is important. [00:22:00] What are the environmental processes , that it depends on. And, and importantly, what does it mean for this ecosystem to be in a world that is rapidly changing with climate? So it connects us to this bigger picture issue of climate change. So it's again, sort of that blend of a person profile with the scientist in her long career.
[00:22:20] Jaymi: And it's a celebration of the ecosystems that she'd worked in, and then it connects us to that bigger issue of climate change. It's bigger conservation issue. This is a really great way that you could tell a story about the actual conservation issue or conservation work that, that nonprofit exists to work on.
[00:22:38] Jaymi: So you're taking that story kind of one step away from the nonprofit and one step toward the reason why that nonprofit exists. And so I love that this was told through a scientist and you could do this in all sorts of different ways.
[00:22:51] Jaymi: Another way that you could do this is actually to tell the story through a business. And again, impact media lab has a great example of doing this. [00:23:00] So they created a short film called oyster farmer, that tells a story of how this one businessman who runs an oyster farm when his oysters were all dying off, because oyster farming is when you get into this as a conservation issue, it is very complex and in depth, and it's also a business. So when you see climate or environmental shifts, creating havoc on how you earn a living, you're likely gonna pay more attention.
[00:23:26] Jaymi: Right? So when he started worrying about all of these die offs of his oysters, It connected him deeply to conservation and science because it's a matter of saving his business. And so this is sort of like this, the tale of an unlikely conservationist as he just went full force into figuring out how he can save his oyster farm and how that connects him to climate change and conservation work and science.
[00:23:52] Jaymi: This can be a really exceptional way to tell a story for a nonprofit, because it connects conservation work that a nonprofit is [00:24:00] doing directly to business. And a lot of people who might not otherwise be interested in the conservation work may become interested because they relate to that business owner.
[00:24:10] Jaymi: So really smart way to, to go about that. So, uh, we've talked a little bit about how you can do this through a scientist, through a business. What about the community itself? Are there community members who are experiencing something or going through something that hammers home? The story of why this conservation work is important? The wild salmon center has a great example of this, and I'm using SAUSA watershed council and, and wild salmon center a lot because they just do such a darn good job of this, but there are other nonprofits out there not nearly enough, but there are nonprofits out there that do a great job of this as examples.
[00:24:48] Jaymi: But these two nonprofits are just they're exceptional. So I'm leaning on them for some examples, but the wild salmon center does a really great job of this through the story of a community member named [00:25:00] Nancy Webster.
[00:25:00] Jaymi: And she is really speaking out about the need for improved forest practices. She talks about why that's the case because the drinking water in her area has been directly affected by clear cutting on industrial Timberlands.
[00:25:15] Jaymi: And when you start to hear from community members like this is what so many of our politicians are supposed to care about, right, is what community members are going through and listening to the community in order to enact change. And so to hear directly from a community member who is concerned about what's going on with our water supply, that's a really incredible way for other people who might not understand what this issue is about or that it's happening in their community or what it means.
[00:25:44] Jaymi: Now they're gonna start to get interested because a fellow community member. Is sharing what it means to have this impact you. So for example, someone else in the community might not realize that their water source, their only source of water is being [00:26:00] affected by clear cutting. And here's how, but by hearing from a community member, That person might start to understand or relate or be educated or be curious about and wanna learn more, see people can relate to community members like themselves.
[00:26:14] Jaymi: So someone who is just exploring what the nonprofit's about, they might not connect to a mission statement or an about page, or they might not connect to the latest, you know, event that, that this nonprofit's held, but they may connect deeply to a community member's story and why they care because they see themselves reflected in that this is a fellow member of their own town, their own area.
[00:26:36] Jaymi: And then that might encourage them to care too. So this can be a very powerful way to approach storytelling, um, and really like getting at the heart of the conservation issue that the nonprofit's working on through storytelling of community members.
[00:26:52] Jaymi: And, you know, one strategy that works really well is to connect to community members that are part of the [00:27:00] so-called opposition. I don't even like to talk about that, but there are people on all sides of an issue. And there are people who might be more, you know, kind of pitted against or, or feel like they stand against conservation work. But in reality, they're just not aware of how that conservation work actually benefits them in the long run. And so when you can tell this story through a community member who is part of that community, , this can be a really powerful way to start to connect more people who are beyond the choir to the conservation issue.
[00:27:32] Jaymi: Thesla watershed council does this through a short film with a local rancher. Who's also a conservationist.
[00:27:39] Jaymi: In this rancher, he really helps to show that like he cares deeply about land management because his ranch relies on it. And there are these big challenges to ecological restoration. But when you stop to think about how this matters to your business and to the legacy of your family as a ranching family and so [00:28:00] on, here's why this really matters to ranchers by hearing from him, someone who is this very down to earth person, he's doing the same work as other ranchers.
[00:28:10] Jaymi: His story may be able to bring other ranchers into the conversation about watershed restoration and be able to help bolster this large scale effort and ultimately benefit ranchers in the long run. So you can really look at like, Hey, who seems to be someone who is. Um, on the quote unquote, other side of this conservation issue, are there community members who are part of that kind of segment of the population who are also invested in the conservation work that this nonprofit profit does, or the conservation issue that the nonprofit is trying to work toward?
[00:28:47] Jaymi: And can we tell their story and maybe through their connection, they're, they're acting as this bridge between two ideas or two ways of life or, uh, two communities of [00:29:00] people and their story becomes that bridge. So this is a really powerful story that a nonprofit can embrace a skilled visual storyteller to tell for them, Okay. I have a few more examples but this episode is already getting really long. So I'm gonna just move right along to the next. Type of story that you can tell for a nonprofit.
[00:29:19] Jaymi: So if you are really wanting to collaborate with a nonprofit and you wanna pitch yourself to say, Hey, I can build visual stories for you that are gonna go a long way and really help you out in connecting with your audience, connecting with member base, bringing in more donations, building the audience that you have building support for the work that you do.
[00:29:39] Jaymi: One of the visual stories that you can pitch to create for them is a visual biography. And specifically, I would encourage you to look into using story map. Now story maps are created using Esri software. It is basically like a website building platform that allows you to create a digital. [00:30:00] Story that is very rich and immersive. There's beautiful per scrolling with captions and maps, and you can embed sound and video snippets, and it just becomes this very immersive visual storytelling, um, body of work.
[00:30:17] Jaymi: I mean, it is a story, but it's also just this like adventure, it's sort of this visual adventure and you can use it to tell very rich in depth stories because of all of the different ways that you can lay out visuals. It keeps people scrolling and, and learning. Now you can do this in a few different ways, and there are some nonprofits out there who have so skillfully used story maps in their storytelling.
[00:30:45] Jaymi: Again, Sause law watershed council. They used this strategy and it is gorgeous. And so they tell the story of the Sause law itself. And so inside of the story map, when you load it.
[00:30:58] Jaymi: They start with [00:31:00] kind of like the history of the watershed itself. They take you through some species, some places they dig into the SAUSA tribe and the first peoples who are here on the Oregon coast and the different tribes and languages that are here, the history of colonialism, uh, and getting into how the watershed has changed over the last couple hundred years, they get into the species that are part of this watershed and the history of, um, fishing and forestry and what that's meant to the land and to now where we are now with needing watershed habitat restoration.
[00:31:37] Jaymi: So it is this beautiful way of kind of traveling through history through culture, through time and through place and species to really understand the work that the watershed council. Does like their importance to the area and why they care so much about what they do. That's one way that you could could approach this for a [00:32:00] nonprofit
[00:32:00] Jaymi: so this visual biography is, is sort of like when I talked about earlier, where you can create the story of the nonprofit itself and why it does what it does. Only this is going even more in depth and you're really creating kind of this rich history that goes beyond just the nonprofit itself and the work it does, and like I said, it's a biography really about this place, the community, the habitat, the species, and so on. And by doing that through a story map, it's this. Gorgeous layout. It's this immersive experience that people can really love. Now, another way that you can use story map is in the next type of story that you can create, which is the story of a specific species habitat or a sanctuary or location that the nonprofit works on.
[00:32:47] Jaymi: So perhaps that nonprofit, like let's go ahead and say, since I've been talking about watershed and wild salmon center, let's say it's a story of a nonprofit that works specifically on restoring salmon habitat. You could do a story [00:33:00] specifically about the salmon species in that area. Um, when I was in the bay area river oters were starting to reemerge, , in old historic habitat where they hadn't been in a really long time.
[00:33:11] Jaymi: So if I were back there again, maybe I would do a story map about the long history of river oters in the area and the habitats that they use and what they mean as a species for the habitat species, diversity and the health of the, the whole ecosystem and then getting into, okay, well, they were trapped out of this area and here's how they're returning.
[00:33:31] Jaymi: And here's the research that's happening now to understand their return and their distribution. And what does it mean? How might their returned presence change ecosystems and make them even healthier. And so there's this way that you can really do an in-depth dive into a single species that the nonprofit.
[00:33:48] Jaymi: Works on, or is part of that nonprofit's overall work. Maybe it's a nonprofit that, like I mentioned before is really invested in habitat restoration. Maybe it's a plant species [00:34:00] that is a native plant that, uh, by restoring habitat, they're bringing back abundance of this native plant species that has diminished.
[00:34:07] Jaymi: There's a lot of ways that you can basically take a, a zoomed in, look at a specific thing that a nonprofit works on and do this very rich story about it. And then when people are coming into the nonprofit's website, they're, you know, maybe new people who are learning about that nonprofit's work, or they are existing donors who are supporting that nonprofit and.
[00:34:32] Jaymi: Really enjoy seeing ways that the nonprofit is genuinely helping the area. This is a way to really connect them in depth with the work that the nonprofit's doing and why it's so important. So you can really dig into like what are specific species or habitats or locations that this nonprofit is connected to.
[00:34:51] Jaymi: And let's really zero in, and you could do a bunch of those. You could do a series of these and again, by using story map, you could do this really rich in depth [00:35:00] experience. And in fact, there's a great example of this very thing from the nature Conservancy, I'm gonna link to it in the show notes, along with everything else, they did this gorgeous story map about pronghorn.
[00:35:12] Jaymi: It's an interactive story map about pronghorn migration. You get to scroll through the seasons of the year and what's going on with pronghorn during these different seasons. And then you get more and more in depth with challenges that pronghorn face and why wildlife friendly fencing is so critical.
[00:35:28] Jaymi: And you learn about all these conservation issues while also becoming sort of an expert on pronghorn and just figuring out how cool this species is. So definitely come to the show notes, look through all of these examples because they're really inspiring and gorgeous and I've. A lot of them for you.
[00:35:44] Jaymi: Okay. But let's get onto that next one. This is the last, uh, story idea that I have for you. And then I'm gonna recap everything that we've talked about. The last type of story that you can create are photo stories about the actual on the ground work, the [00:36:00] restoration projects, the events, the initiatives, and so on.
[00:36:03] Jaymi: And I'm not talking about going to an event and snapping some photos and saying, Hey, look what we did on January 15th. I'm talking about like really spending time out in the field, on these projects or at these events to craft photo stories. Now, if you've been listening to this podcast for any amount of time, you know how I feel about.
[00:36:23] Jaymi: What it means to create a photo story. It's not a set of images. It's not like just a, a big pile of images from different times of day or different angles that you then call a story. Photo stories are built with specific types of images that combine with each other, that lean on each other, that build on one another that make each other more powerful.
[00:36:43] Jaymi: You are working with Lego pieces in a photo story. So it's not these set of standalone images that if you pulled one out of the story, they'd be fine. Really photo stories have all these different types of images that lean on each other to make it powerful as a whole. It's [00:37:00] like a greater than the sum of its parts.
[00:37:02] Jaymi: Um, that is what a photo story is about. So when I'm talking about going and making photo stories about on the ground work, you're not just documenting real quick a project or an event you're taking time to really think about what's happening on the ground. Who is there taking part? Why are they there taking part what's what's driving them.
[00:37:21] Jaymi: What's their personality? Like, are there moments where I can capture that personality coming through? How is this changing the location? What's the location look like before and after? Um, if it's an event that is with the community, what does it mean for that event to be happening to the community?
[00:37:38] Jaymi: How is the community reacting to it? What are people there to see or to learn or to do? How is it changing the community? You ask these deeper questions, getting into more philosophical questions about what these projects, these events, events, these initiatives are accomplishing, what they're doing, what they mean to the area, what they mean to [00:38:00] that conservation.
[00:38:00] Jaymi: And then you're thinking about photos that you can create that help to illustrate that. And. Eventually, you're building out a story that when it's on a nonprofit's website, not only are people seeing, oh, they're doing that thing out there. They're, they're taking part in this work, but I understand why, and I can really start to feel connected to that work by witnessing it, the photos that you are crafting are storytelling and each one , , pulls a little bit of the story out of the other photos that are there.
[00:38:32] Jaymi: I know I'm getting a little. Philosophical here, but it's, I just really wanna hammer home that when you tell photo stories about the, on the ground work, you're not just documenting what's happening. You're telling the story about what's going on. And the story helps to say that this is going on, but it's connected to this larger thing it's connected to this larger ideal or goal or mission.
[00:38:56] Jaymi: . Okay. Let's go ahead and recap. This [00:39:00] episode is already a lot longer than I expected it to be. And I apologize for that. I thought it would be really quick, but I can nerd out about this stuff all day long.
[00:39:07] Jaymi: So the seven opportunities that you have to create conservation photo stories for nonprofits. And there are more than just these seven, but I think these seven are an amazing starting point are creating a story of the nonprofit itself and why it does what it does.
[00:39:23] Jaymi: So here you're digging into the why of that nonprofit. And you're really saying here's how that nonprofit was founded. Here's how it's living out the mission today. You're basically doing sort of a mini surface biography about that nonprofit. And through that you really get at the heart of why that nonprofit exists and you, and it's a way to connect people to the heart and soul of that nonprofit two profiles of the staff and the volunteers, the people who are really involved.
[00:39:52] Jaymi: And you're not just snapping a headshot or two or an environmental portrait. And then pairing that up with a bio when you're [00:40:00] profiling staff or volunteers, you're really digging into who they are, who they are as a person, as an individual, as a community member, as part of the nonprofit, what does their day look like?
[00:40:10] Jaymi: What other hobbies do they have? Who are they as a person you're really celebrating them. And by celebrating them, you're also showing other people in the community who's connected to this nonprofit so they can feel connected to the people themselves and really start to feel like they're building a relationship with the people who are involved in the nonprofit.
[00:40:29] Jaymi: The third type of story is the story of a donor and why they support the nonprofit. So now you're doing sort of like what you are doing with the profiles of staff and volunteers, but you're specifically looking at the donor. What do they care about? What have they experienced in life? How does that connect them to the nonprofit and actually motivate them to donate?
[00:40:50] Jaymi: And as you do that, you may motivate other people to want to donate as well. That's really important to nonprofits. Individual donors are critical to [00:41:00] nonprofits and when you celebrate them, when you give them a chance to show who they are and why they donate, not only is that honoring them, but you're also.
[00:41:09] Jaymi: Really sparking that connection and curiosity with other people who may then become donors next, the work itself, you're telling the story of the conservation conundrum that the nonprofit is working to solve. And you don't have to do this through the eyes of the nonprofit. You can do this through the eyes of all kinds of other players. So we talked about through the eyes of a scientist who is working inside of the conservation issue, maybe they're researching a, a species or a place or something that has to do with the conservation issue that the nonprofit works on.
[00:41:42] Jaymi: You can tell it through the eyes of a business, through the eyes of a community member, especially through the eyes of a community member who is part of the audience that you really need to reach, , in order to make a bigger impact with the conservation effort. So maybe a community member who is [00:42:00] in, in a segment of the audience that's beyond the choir, right.
[00:42:03] Jaymi: That can be a very powerful way to, , connect people to the conservation issue. , Okay. and the next one is a visual biography. And this is where I really encourage you to look into using story map software, to actually build the story itself. So with the visual biography, you're not just doing the story of the nonprofit and why it exists. That might be part of the biography, but you're also digging into the history of the area that the nonprofit works on. , the history of the community, the habitat, the species, where everything is now, where it's headed in the future, how it may be impacted by these conservation issues.
[00:42:42] Jaymi: This is truly an in depth biography. And this is, this would be a very big project, but at the same time, if you were to pitch a visual biography, not only could you do that biography, but you could also pull out pieces to fill all these other roles of these smaller stories that I've been talking about.
[00:42:59] Jaymi: [00:43:00] So you can create a visual biography. And then inside of that, you can pull out some profiles of people. The story of the nonprofit, you can basically create, um, one big product with a whole bunch of little products inside of it.
[00:43:14] Jaymi: Then we have the specific story of a single species, a single habitat, a single sanctuary or location. This is where you're really zooming in to tell the story of one thing that the nonprofit addresses or works on. So for instance, I talked about that salmon example, you're really digging into the natural history of that single species.
[00:43:34] Jaymi: How it is protected or monitored by the nonprofit, uh, volunteers or community members who appreciate its existence, how the public can support or protect it. So you're really doing a, a story that is just about one species or habitat or place that connects back to the work of the nonprofit and finally photo stories about on the ground work.
[00:43:58] Jaymi: So the actual work that the [00:44:00] nonprofit is doing those restoration projects, the events, the initiatives, the research, the community engagement, whatever it may be, the actual on the ground work that the conservation nonprofit is there to do. You're creating photo stories about that. And again, it is not.
[00:44:16] Jaymi: Documenting process or just documenting what's happening. It really is about , photo storytelling. , that relates that on the groundwork back to philosophy, mission community. You're thinking about not just taking pictures of, but crafting photo stories about, and I will say that I have really hammered home the importance of types of images that help you go beyond standalone shots and into these visual stories and how these different types of images can lean on each other and build each other up so that they create a photo story that is greater than the sum of its parts.
[00:44:53] Jaymi: Right. And if you are interested in learning a lot more about that, I have a training for you called six must [00:45:00] have shots for a photo story. You can get that firstname.lastname@example.org slash six. Just the number six. So conservation visuals.com/six, and you can grab that training and it's, you can devour it in like an afternoon and it will definitely change the way that you think about creating photo stories and really inform the way that you dive into pretty much any of these stories that I've talked about so far.
[00:45:29] Jaymi: Now, finally, let's talk really briefly about where these stories go. So you're spending all of this time dreaming up the types of stories that you would create for a nonprofit that are really valuable for that nonprofit that help that nonprofit connect to their audience, raise money, be more attractive to funders, , build community around what they do build trust among not only their existing members, but potential future members.
[00:45:57] Jaymi: You're thinking about all these types of stories and it's like, okay, but word. Does [00:46:00] it go. So let's talk about how these visual stories are not just one and done things that they are long term assets for nonprofits. How do nonprofits take advantage of this longevity that they have for these types of assets?
[00:46:16] Jaymi: Well, And this is a whole other episode in and of itself. So I'm gonna keep this fairly brief. Uh, this is stuff. Oh my gosh. I could talk about this all day long. I love digging into marketing strategies for conservation, but. Essentially, what nonprofits can do with these is break them up and use them over time in different ways and time them in a way that they're telling these important, like, core stories about their work, again and again, but with enough space in between them and with enough diversity in how they use them, that it always feels fresh and interesting to the audience or familiar in a really, um, fun way, familiar, not in a redundant way, but familiar in a, even more connected.
[00:46:58] Jaymi: Oh, I'm part of that history. [00:47:00] I've seen this before. I know that story. Yay. I get to it's like watching your favorite reruns, right? So. Nonprofits can take the stories that you create and either as a whole, or by breaking them up into pieces, they can use them in newsletters. They can use them in email broadcasts.
[00:47:17] Jaymi: Now newsletters are usually like a collection of the latest news. Whereas email broadcasts are email specific to one issue or topic or story. So newsletters and email broadcasts are two different things and nonprofits can use what you create in either of them. They can use them of course, on their websites.
[00:47:37] Jaymi: And, oh my gosh, put them everywhere on a website, break it up, make every page on the website, immersive and a beautiful story and a way to learn more and connect more to that nonprofit. They can also use them if the nonprofit is either holding their own webinars, or if they are invited as guests to speak at other events or webinars, they can absolutely use these stories,
[00:47:59] Jaymi: [00:48:00] whether they are images on slides, or if you create short films or even reels using images, overlaid with music or narrative, these are things that you can play at webinars either to introduce an issue or to say, okay. And in order to illustrate what I just said, I'm gonna share this, this quick film or whatever it may be.
[00:48:19] Jaymi: You can definitely use those in these educational events. Nonprofits can use them in grant applications. Whenever nonprofits are writing grants for projects that they're working on, they can include these gorgeous visual assets that show what they're doing, who they are, what their mission is, what their accomplishing, who their community base is.
[00:48:41] Jaymi: And in that it builds a lot of trust with potential funders. It gives them a really great edge for those grant applications. They can use them with partner websites. So often you'll see our partners or our collaborators or whatever. It may be our supporters on a nonprofits website. What if they [00:49:00] have these gorgeous visual stories that their partners can put on their own website?
[00:49:04] Jaymi: It adds value to that partners website, because now there's this gorgeous asset and then can draw traffic straight back to that nonprofit. So if they have, um, businesses who are sponsors, if they have other nonprofits who are part of a collaborative, whatever it may be, they can share some of these materials for those partners to put on their sites, which is a win-win for bringing more traffic to your own website as a nonprofit.
[00:49:30] Jaymi: And of course, social media, now this is where, uh, the stories that you create have a ton of room to run because different social media platforms use visual assets in different ways. And so one single story can be reformatted in all these different ways to work on different social media platforms and engage audiences in kind of these fresh and fun ways.
[00:49:54] Jaymi: And it can be done again and again. So whether that is quarterly or yearly, they can keep [00:50:00] reusing these assets. So for example, they can take a single story that you create about maybe it's that visual biography that we talked about, or maybe it is the. Story of the nonprofit and why it exists. They can break that up into Instagram stories, Instagram reels, carousel posts, a TikTok video, a Facebook post, a Facebook gallery, all these different formats for the same story and be able to roll it out on these different platforms and reach the different audiences that are on those different platforms.
[00:50:32] Jaymi: Cuz each social media platform, not everyone is on all of 'em. They appeal to different demographics. They appeal to different age ranges so they can reach different audiences based on where they put this on social media. And they can take that one story that you've created the assets, the visual assets that you've created and be able to reformat them and reach massive audiences just by wisely using them on social media and they can post that stuff again and again and again, and keep [00:51:00] telling that story.
[00:51:01] Jaymi: what I'm saying here with all of this is that there is a massive amount of leverage that a nonprofit can have with even just a single well made visual story. And you just don't get that when you do sort of a wide net, right. SCR in a photo contest and end up with a pile of one off images that maybe you use to decorate webpages or social media posts or newsletters, but they're all standalone and they don't cohesively blend and they don't tell stories.
[00:51:32] Jaymi: It's cohesive stories made well, that really make the impact that nonprofits need to make in order to accomplish their mission, grow their membership, grow their audience. Gain more support fact is for any nonprofit that wants to grow. It is well worth investing in a skilled visual storyteller, a photographer who understands how to go beyond single shots and capture [00:52:00] stories. And the budget argument is easily overcome by the reminder that you can get grants to cover the cost of hiring an awesome, skilled, talented conservation photographer like you to do the work.
[00:52:13] Jaymi: In fact, the SUSE law watershed council. When I talked earlier about how they hired two photographers and a filmmaker to make all of these amazing visual story assets for them, they did that through funding provided by the, uh, national oceanic and atmospheric administration or Noah. They used funding from Noah and assistance from their partner EcoTrust and that's where they found the money to hire some pros.
[00:52:39] Jaymi: So if a nonprofit is saying, we don't have budget for that, we can't afford that there are grants out there that will help them to create these visual stories that can go so far and do so much for them. Now, you know, types of stories that you could create and ways to show them just what you can create, where they [00:53:00] can put it and why it will be so valuable to them in the long run.
[00:53:04] Jaymi: Now these visual storytelling skills. This is exactly what I teach my students in conservation photography. 1 0 1 in that course, you learn exactly how to spot and hone these great photo story ideas, how to photograph them and get those compelling shots that you need going way beyond snapshots and really creating portfolios of imagery that build full rich stories.
[00:53:27] Jaymi: And of course, how you pitch your work. Now, whether that is pitching your work to publications or pitching your work to nonprofits to get hired or other clients to get hired. You're learning how to get yourself out there as a visual storyteller. So the skills you learn in conservation photography, 1 0 1 apply well beyond simply getting photo stories and magazines.
[00:53:49] Jaymi: They're useful for pitching yourself to work with nonprofits too. Now conservation photography, 1 0 1 will open again soon. And if you would like to hop on the wait list and be first to know when [00:54:00] enrollment opens next, you can head to conservation visuals.com/enroll, and right there, you can hop onto the wait list for the next time it opens.
[00:54:09] Jaymi: You'll be first to know
[00:54:10] Jaymi: the , But again, if you are really eager to just get started now with learning how to go beyond those standalone shots to create photo stories, you can get that targeted training. The six must have shots for a photo email@example.com slash it's a training that you can complete in a single afternoon. And it's gonna change the way that you think about the types of images you create.
[00:54:39] Jaymi: Now this episode was about why photo stories are such a big deal for conservation nonprofit work, why it is so well worth them investing the time, the energy, the funds to hire photographers, to create visual stories for them and how they can use them. And of course, the types of visual stories that you can [00:55:00] create for nonprofits.
[00:55:01] Jaymi: But I wanna keep going deeper to help you as a photographer gain loads of tools to help you make the photo stories that have such an impact. So the next episode that I'm gonna roll out is about six books that have forever changed how I photograph conservation stories and how I think about even telling conservation stories and not a single one of them.
[00:55:24] Jaymi: Is about photography or really conservation for that matter? Well, one of them is about conservation or, I mean, really it's more about code. Well, whatever, I won't spoil the surprise, but see, I am all about looking at how we can use the tools from other industries or other ways of thinking inside of conservation.
[00:55:42] Jaymi: So that the work that we do is that much more impactful. And I'm always thinking about how can I think differently about visual storytelling to be more effective. So each of the books that I will list out in the next episode has had that effect for me. So I'm gonna go through each of them and why they're so helpful in the next [00:56:00] episode.
[00:56:00] Jaymi: Stay tuned for that. And meanwhile, do head to the show notes, to check out all the links for the examples that I mentioned in this episode, you are probably gonna go down a rabbit hole of joyful inspiration. Seeing all the different ways that story can come together and how you can tell stories and get inspired for approaches to stories that ultimately help conservation nonprofits make a bigger impact.
[00:56:24] Jaymi: All right. Talk to you again soon.
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