Photography Guidelines

Authenticity is integral to FIGO’s brand.

Our members and their patients are at the heart of everything we do, improving the health and wellbeing of women globally.

Our philosophy

The images FIGO use in our communications and advocacy work have the same integrity and global reach as our work, reflecting our 132 member societies and treating women with dignity and respect.

We are passionate about seeing a world where women have the highest possible standards of health and wellbeing, therefore our photography reflects healthy, happy women and not poverty, suffering or helplessness.

Our visual language

FIGO’s strength is in collaboration - the partnerships between health professionals, women and partner organisations. As such, we prefer our imagery to frame more than one subject in the shot. We shoot this in one of two ways:

  1. Documentary (capturing ‘every day’ and ‘real life’ moments), with the focus of the shot on the human interaction between subjects. Real people in their own communities, alongside our people working with or actively engaging with them. We don’t like our photographs to feel staged – they should feel like a moment in ordinary daily life has been captured.
  2. Direct engagement, with the primary subject or subjects of the shot actively inviting you, the viewer, to be part of the interaction and not just a passive observer. Level eye contact is essential to this; the subject should not be staring wistfully into empty space.

In both ways of photographing, the focus is always on the subject or subjects in the frame. These should not be portraits; we should always understand something of the context from the background.

We shoot at eye-level and never look down upon the subjects in the frame. We prefer not to show infrastructure or facilities in a stark or fatalistic manner, without allowing the natural warmth of people or the community to shine through. We don’t patronise or pity the people we work with. We share their hope.

What equipment do I need?

You don’t need a professional camera. You can take powerful, award-winning photographs with the camera on your smartphone.

FIGO photography guidelines and consent

Wherever possible, always ask the subject of your photo to sign the consent form.

A copy of our consent form can be downloaded here.

If you are photographing children, always seek permission from their parent/guardian. 

If your subject is unable to read or speak English, please explain the contents of the form and ask them to make a X on the signature line.

What to think about when taking a photo

What story am I telling?

This will help you determine composition, framing, exposure etc. In essence what you’re asking is ‘why am I taking this shot? What is its purpose and what am I trying to convey?’ Is it purely a way to keep a record of a moment, are you trying to capture the emotion of a moment, is it part of a larger series of shots etc. 

  • Take photos of staff talking to and working with the ‘end users’ (i.e. mothers and babies)
  • when taking photos at a workshop/meeting, capture people interacting or talking, i.e. active photos

What is the visual focal point of this shot?

What will viewers of this picture naturally have their eye drawn to in this scene? Once you’ve identified this focal point you can think about where to place it in the frame

What is in the background and the foreground?

One of most common places for distractions in digital photography is the background of your shots. Run your eyes over the space behind your subject to see what else is in the image (do the same for the foreground).

Am I close enough?

Another common mistake in digital photography is taking shots where your subject is too small in the frame. Shots that fill the frame with your subject tend to be much more dynamic and show a lot more detail of your subject. To get this effect you have the option of moving yourself closer, moving your subject closer or using a longer focal length to give the effect of closeness.

What is the main source of light?

Always consider how your subject is lit. Without light you’ll lose detail and clarity in your image. What is the main source of light, where is it coming from, is there enough light, do you need artificial light sources (flash etc), do you need to stabilize your camera on a tripod to stop camera shake due to low light. 

Is my framing straight?

It’s amazing how many otherwise good photos are spoiled by framing that is slightly offline. Sloping horizons and slightly leaning people or buildings should always be in the back of your mind to check.

How would holding the camera in the other way change this shot?

Many photographers get into the habit of always holding their camera the same way (horizontally/landscape or vertically/portrait). Think about how holding the camera in a different way will change the impact of the shot.

Think about how and where the photo might be used

Photos could be used in all sorts of ways, for example, as part of a news story on the website, in printed material, or as a poster:

  • Think about leaving space to one side of the image to allow for text, particularly if you are just taking a photo of one or two people and there’s not much else happening in the photo. This won’t work as well for a ‘busy’ photo
  • If and where possible try and allow space for FIGO branding. This will reinforce our brand and work when using the photo in marketing material