Positive photos from a challenging year — 2020

Positive photos from a challenging year — 2020

Photo: Isak Amin/ FAO Somalia/ Arete

”2020 has been an extraordinary year. For photographers, videographers and writers, it has meant dramatically changing the way they work. Many have been unable to travel, and for those who can, assignments have become increasingly challenging, with new systems needed to ensure that peoples health and well being is prioritised over everything else.

We have seen an increasing demand for locally based photographers, to overcome travel restrictions, which has allowed us to expand our consultant database. At the same time, we have also seen budgets dramatically cut, which has proved challenging. As we look ahead to 2021, we hope that we can continue to tell important stories that can help make a difference.” — Kate Holt, Photojournalist & Director of Arete Stories.

In what has been an extremely challenging year our final blog of 2020 is a reflection on some of this year’s more positive moments as seen by Arete photographers from around the world.

We asked some of the fantastic photographers we have worked with on assignments this year to share with us one of their favourite photographs and explain why this photo represents positivity to them.

Quinn Mattingly

@quinnryanmattingly

Quinn is an editorial and commercial photographer based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and has recently worked with us on projects for the Costa Foundation

Tell us about the photo: “This image was shot in Dak Lak Province, Vietnam, on assignment for Arete in one of the schools the Costa Foundation supports.This young girl is practising a dance for the Harvest Festival performance at her school, which happens every September in Vietnam”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “The look of confidence and happiness on this girls face, as she practices her dance one last time before the performance, really struck me. It represents positivity to me in that we can do anything we set our minds to, especially, and even at a young age”.

Eden Sparke

@edensparkephoto

Eden is a London-based photojournalist, specialising in humanitarian, sports, and news photography. She has worked with Arete for the last three years and carried out many assignments throughout Africa.

Tell us about the photo: “This was taken at a JHPIEGO outreach clinic in Kampala, Uganda. I was there photographing the great work of JHPIEGO in spreading awareness of, and access to, family planning initiatives. This particular clinic was in the forecourt of a hair extension and wig-making factory — the team set up the tent which had two consultation rooms and a reception area, and healthcare workers talked to the factory staff as they finished their shifts”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “The woman in the photo, Nancy, had a consultation about her options for family planning, and she chose to have an IUD inserted there and then. ’She’s laughing in the photo as it ’didn’t hurt as much as she had expected!

It represents positivity to me because her happiness underlines that we are making great strides in helping women to make choices over their bodies and their futures. This year may have put a lot of things on hold, but there is so much good work out there still to be done and so many wonderful people out there ready to do it!”

Moses Sawasawa

@mosessawasawa

Moses is a photojournalist and ’women’s rights activist, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tell us about the photo: “I took these photos in the overcrowded village of Minova in South Kivu. This village has suffered many atrocities for years but the inhabitants do not give up. In this photo, Mr Kandu Hamuli works as a carpenter. He is a father to 7 children. Mr Hamuli is the sole earner for his family — despite the hardships around him he doesn’t give up.

Mr Hamuli says “I have been doing this job for 17 years and is what my father did before me. It gives me enough money to support my family.”

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? Mr Hamuli represents the bravery of his community. It also shows the love he has for his children and how he is willing to work hard to bring happiness and safety to his family.”

Aaron Palabyab

@aaronpalabyab

Aaron is a Philippines based filmmaker and photographer specialising in travel-oriented content and time-lapse photography. He started working with Arete last year.

Tell us about the photo: “This was the most surreal, foggy sunrise, seen while my girlfriend and I were riding our motorcycles up to the mountains just outside Manila. ’I’ve never seen a sunrise like this in many years of pursuing photography in the Philippines.We had to pull off to the side of the road to admire it”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “There’s this mix of beauty and foreboding unreality in this photo that for me represents 2020 well. A few minutes after this photo was taken, the sun disappeared into the mist, but then a few more minutes up the road, the fog burned away and the sun shone in full glory.

It’s a reminder that no matter how dark and uncertain these times are now, one day, inevitably, the clouds must part, and the light that’s always been there will shine through again. Nature takes its course, and there’s beauty in that, no matter how dark it seems. It’s up to us to trust the process and live through the times we’ve been given”.

Gregory Escande

@photo_in_moz

Gregory Escande is a french language teacher and photographer based in Maputo, Mozambique who has recently completed his first assignment for Arete.

Tell us about the photo: “It was taken in Maputo, Mozambique, in the Costa de Sol “bairro”. It had rained a little bit, and the ground was wet, but a group of 4 or 5 boys were playing with a ball. I asked them if they could do a jump with a ball header so that I could take a photo, and all the kids accepted to try a header. The boys tried many times, and two girls were watching and seemed to want to try too.

I encouraged the two young girls to attempt it, and this photo shows the first girl trying. Girls also play in sports in Mozambican schools, and one of the heroes of the nation is Maria Mutola, a Mozambican female track and field athlete, who is the only Mozambican, for both men and women, to win an Olympic or world title”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “Mozambique is an extremely poor country, people are fighting every day for their survival and to support their families, and yet, people show dignity, kindness, and resilience. In my experience, people seem to be more optimistic and open-minded than in some developed countries. The child in the photo is also the symbol of joy, hope, and the ‘sans souci’.

To me this photo represents positivity because despite the difficult living conditions, even with the impression of a challenging future (symbolised in the photo by a grey, closed background) there are still suspended and fragile moments, in the harshness of everyday life, which are filled with optimism, joy and poetry”.

Massoud Hossaini

@massoud151

Massoud is a photojournalist based in Kabul, Afghanistan and 2012 Pulitzer prize winner.

“I was born in the wrong place, Afghanistan; grow up in the wrong place, Iran; living and working in the wrong place, Kabul; let’s see what will happen”.

Tell us about the photo: “In this photo, a man walks down the road as he sells balloons in Kabul, Afghanistan”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “Positivity isn’t always easy to find in a place like Kabul. For me, the balloon seller in this photo is offering a piece of happiness, and the idea of a happier, more positive time with every balloon he sells”.

Kate Holt

@kateholtphoto

Kate is a US based photographer who works in both Africa and the Middle East. Kate is the director of Arete Stories, and trustee of RE:ACT and the Royal Humane Society.

Tell us about the photo: “This photo was taken in downtown DC about an hour after Jo Biden had been called as the winner of the US Election. I had gone down to the White House to see first hand the reaction to the news and came across queues of cars and people celebrating. I turned around and unexpectedly caught sight of these two girls looking very happy”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “This image represents hope as well as signifying change. Everything about the girls faces is positive”.

Solan Kolli

@solankolli_

Solan is a photographer and filmmaker based in Ethiopia and has worked on many creative projects for Arete.

Tell us about the photo: “This picture was taken in Adame Yirgachafe, Ethiopia for the Costa Foundation to document the impact of their work which supports schools in coffee-growing communities in, Ethiopia”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “My positive first impression of Adancech is confirmed by her interactions with other people. She was smiling andglowing in the sunlight as I photographed her on the coffee farm.

Adanchech is the story of a single mother from an impoverished village in Ethiopia who 10 years after dropping out and giving birth to five children, was able to go back to school. It is a truly exceptional story. The energy, enthusiasm, and hope that she has shown for her second chance in life taught me that you could start all over again regardless of the past challenges”.

Karel Prinsloo

@karelprinsloo

Karel Prinsloo is an award-winning African photographer. He works for many NGO’s and news organisations throughout Africa and is one of Arete’s main photographers.

Tell us about the photo: “Children and a teacher walk past a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) health centre in the Mandruzi Resettlement neighbourhood, Mozambique. Mozambique continues to be impacted by the climate crisis and has yet to fully recover from the devastation of Cyclone Ida in 2019”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “I like the picture as it shows children playing without a care in the world despite their dire circumstances. They are living for the moment, a lesson we all learned this year”.

Kevin Ouma

A Kenyan based photographer, Kevin recently worked with us on a project for the World Food Programme.

Tell us about the photo: “Muhumad holds tomatoes she grows in her garden in Ceel-Hume Village , Somaliand. In Somaliland, the main overall issues affecting food security are the lack of access to safe water for human consumption, agriculture and livestock production, as well as seasonal hunger due to insufficient food and income at certain times of the year”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “Even in adversity, there is still room for hope. Living in a post-conflict environment Muhammad has not been put down; she has put together a small garden that provides good food for her family and extra to sell and earn a living. Adversity will come just as Covid-19 has, but we can emerge stronger”.

Brian Ongoro

@brian_ongoro

A photographer based in Kisumu, Kenya, Brian covers East African and is an avid contributor to the AFP.

Tell us about the photo: “This photograph was taken in Kisumu, western Kenya during a cleanup exercise by a group of students. The students came out to clean areas surrounding Lake Victoria and a game park that is also next to the lake. Waves from the lake bring to shore plastics and other waste found in the lake.

The students have been home since March when schools were closed due to the spread of COVID-19. The students decided to organise themselves and spend their time at home cleaning up their environment. They want to engage in activities to help find solutions to the world’s problems — which they can participate in while they wait for infections from COVID-19 to reduce so that they can return to school.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “To me, this photograph shows that despite the challenges we are facing from COVID-19 and a lot of restrictions around the world, instead of just sitting and waiting for medical experts who are focusing on finding a vaccine for COVID-19, people can still focus their time and energy trying to solve other pressing issues”.

Roshni Lodhia

@roshni.lodhia

Roshni describes herself as a photographer for people, culture and conversation.

Growing up in Tanzania, Roshni found her calling in telling stories of grassroots conservation efforts through photography and film. Her work is unique in the way she captures light and the human spirit. Roshni has worked for conservation organisations, including The Nature Conservancy, in Tanzania, Kenya, Gabon, Seychelles, South Africa and India.

Tell us about the photo: “Joy and Antoney playing on their ancestral land in Paradamat, Kenya. Only a few kilometres away, zebras are grazing. It represents harmony between wildlife and humans.

This image is part of a series telling the story of Johnson Soit. Johnson Soit agreed to remove the fence on the land that he has leased out to Paradamat Conservancy Area to allow the wildlife to move freely. He says: “I agreed for the wild animals to roam around because that benefits us. From the lease payments, I pay my children’s school fees.”

Our award-winning journalists and content specialists are eager to help you make a difference. Contact us to find out how we can tailor our expertise to meet your needs.


Positive photos from a challenging year — 2020 was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Positive photos from a challenging year — 2020

Positive photos from a challenging year — 2020

Photo: Isak Amin/ FAO Somalia/ Arete

”2020 has been an extraordinary year. For photographers, videographers and writers, it has meant dramatically changing the way they work. Many have been unable to travel, and for those who can, assignments have become increasingly challenging, with new systems needed to ensure that peoples health and well being is prioritised over everything else.

We have seen an increasing demand for locally based photographers, to overcome travel restrictions, which has allowed us to expand our consultant database. At the same time, we have also seen budgets dramatically cut, which has proved challenging. As we look ahead to 2021, we hope that we can continue to tell important stories that can help make a difference.” — Kate Holt, Photojournalist & Director of Arete Stories.

In what has been an extremely challenging year our final blog of 2020 is a reflection on some of this year’s more positive moments as seen by Arete photographers from around the world.

We asked some of the fantastic photographers we have worked with on assignments this year to share with us one of their favourite photographs and explain why this photo represents positivity to them.

Quinn Mattingly

@quinnryanmattingly

Quinn is an editorial and commercial photographer based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and has recently worked with us on projects for the Costa Foundation

Tell us about the photo: “This image was shot in Dak Lak Province, Vietnam, on assignment for Arete in one of the schools the Costa Foundation supports.This young girl is practising a dance for the Harvest Festival performance at her school, which happens every September in Vietnam”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “The look of confidence and happiness on this girls face, as she practices her dance one last time before the performance, really struck me. It represents positivity to me in that we can do anything we set our minds to, especially, and even at a young age”.

Eden Sparke

@edensparkephoto

Eden is a London-based photojournalist, specialising in humanitarian, sports, and news photography. She has worked with Arete for the last three years and carried out many assignments throughout Africa.

Tell us about the photo: “This was taken at a JHPIEGO outreach clinic in Kampala, Uganda. I was there photographing the great work of JHPIEGO in spreading awareness of, and access to, family planning initiatives. This particular clinic was in the forecourt of a hair extension and wig-making factory — the team set up the tent which had two consultation rooms and a reception area, and healthcare workers talked to the factory staff as they finished their shifts”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “The woman in the photo, Nancy, had a consultation about her options for family planning, and she chose to have an IUD inserted there and then. ’She’s laughing in the photo as it ’didn’t hurt as much as she had expected!

It represents positivity to me because her happiness underlines that we are making great strides in helping women to make choices over their bodies and their futures. This year may have put a lot of things on hold, but there is so much good work out there still to be done and so many wonderful people out there ready to do it!”

Moses Sawasawa

@mosessawasawa

Moses is a photojournalist and ’women’s rights activist, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tell us about the photo: “I took these photos in the overcrowded village of Minova in South Kivu. This village has suffered many atrocities for years but the inhabitants do not give up. In this photo, Mr Kandu Hamuli works as a carpenter. He is a father to 7 children. Mr Hamuli is the sole earner for his family — despite the hardships around him he doesn’t give up.

Mr Hamuli says “I have been doing this job for 17 years and is what my father did before me. It gives me enough money to support my family.”

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? Mr Hamuli represents the bravery of his community. It also shows the love he has for his children and how he is willing to work hard to bring happiness and safety to his family.”

Aaron Palabyab

@aaronpalabyab

Aaron is a Philippines based filmmaker and photographer specialising in travel-oriented content and time-lapse photography. He started working with Arete last year.

Tell us about the photo: “This was the most surreal, foggy sunrise, seen while my girlfriend and I were riding our motorcycles up to the mountains just outside Manila. ’I’ve never seen a sunrise like this in many years of pursuing photography in the Philippines.We had to pull off to the side of the road to admire it”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “There’s this mix of beauty and foreboding unreality in this photo that for me represents 2020 well. A few minutes after this photo was taken, the sun disappeared into the mist, but then a few more minutes up the road, the fog burned away and the sun shone in full glory.

It’s a reminder that no matter how dark and uncertain these times are now, one day, inevitably, the clouds must part, and the light that’s always been there will shine through again. Nature takes its course, and there’s beauty in that, no matter how dark it seems. It’s up to us to trust the process and live through the times we’ve been given”.

Gregory Escande

@photo_in_moz

Gregory Escande is a french language teacher and photographer based in Maputo, Mozambique who has recently completed his first assignment for Arete.

Tell us about the photo: “It was taken in Maputo, Mozambique, in the Costa de Sol “bairro”. It had rained a little bit, and the ground was wet, but a group of 4 or 5 boys were playing with a ball. I asked them if they could do a jump with a ball header so that I could take a photo, and all the kids accepted to try a header. The boys tried many times, and two girls were watching and seemed to want to try too.

I encouraged the two young girls to attempt it, and this photo shows the first girl trying. Girls also play in sports in Mozambican schools, and one of the heroes of the nation is Maria Mutola, a Mozambican female track and field athlete, who is the only Mozambican, for both men and women, to win an Olympic or world title”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “Mozambique is an extremely poor country, people are fighting every day for their survival and to support their families, and yet, people show dignity, kindness, and resilience. In my experience, people seem to be more optimistic and open-minded than in some developed countries. The child in the photo is also the symbol of joy, hope, and the ‘sans souci’.

To me this photo represents positivity because despite the difficult living conditions, even with the impression of a challenging future (symbolised in the photo by a grey, closed background) there are still suspended and fragile moments, in the harshness of everyday life, which are filled with optimism, joy and poetry”.

Massoud Hossaini

@massoud151

Massoud is a photojournalist based in Kabul, Afghanistan and 2012 Pulitzer prize winner.

“I was born in the wrong place, Afghanistan; grow up in the wrong place, Iran; living and working in the wrong place, Kabul; let’s see what will happen”.

Tell us about the photo: “In this photo, a man walks down the road as he sells balloons in Kabul, Afghanistan”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “Positivity isn’t always easy to find in a place like Kabul. For me, the balloon seller in this photo is offering a piece of happiness, and the idea of a happier, more positive time with every balloon he sells”.

Kate Holt

@kateholtphoto

Kate is a US based photographer who works in both Africa and the Middle East. Kate is the director of Arete Stories, and trustee of RE:ACT and the Royal Humane Society.

Tell us about the photo: “This photo was taken in downtown DC about an hour after Jo Biden had been called as the winner of the US Election. I had gone down to the White House to see first hand the reaction to the news and came across queues of cars and people celebrating. I turned around and unexpectedly caught sight of these two girls looking very happy”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “This image represents hope as well as signifying change. Everything about the girls faces is positive”.

Solan Kolli

@solankolli_

Solan is a photographer and filmmaker based in Ethiopia and has worked on many creative projects for Arete.

Tell us about the photo: “This picture was taken in Adame Yirgachafe, Ethiopia for the Costa Foundation to document the impact of their work which supports schools in coffee-growing communities in, Ethiopia”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “My positive first impression of Adancech is confirmed by her interactions with other people. She was smiling andglowing in the sunlight as I photographed her on the coffee farm.

Adanchech is the story of a single mother from an impoverished village in Ethiopia who 10 years after dropping out and giving birth to five children, was able to go back to school. It is a truly exceptional story. The energy, enthusiasm, and hope that she has shown for her second chance in life taught me that you could start all over again regardless of the past challenges”.

Karel Prinsloo

@karelprinsloo

Karel Prinsloo is an award-winning African photographer. He works for many NGO’s and news organisations throughout Africa and is one of Arete’s main photographers.

Tell us about the photo: “Children and a teacher walk past a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) health centre in the Mandruzi Resettlement neighbourhood, Mozambique. Mozambique continues to be impacted by the climate crisis and has yet to fully recover from the devastation of Cyclone Ida in 2019”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “I like the picture as it shows children playing without a care in the world despite their dire circumstances. They are living for the moment, a lesson we all learned this year”.

Kevin Ouma

A Kenyan based photographer, Kevin recently worked with us on a project for the World Food Programme.

Tell us about the photo: “Muhumad holds tomatoes she grows in her garden in Ceel-Hume Village , Somaliand. In Somaliland, the main overall issues affecting food security are the lack of access to safe water for human consumption, agriculture and livestock production, as well as seasonal hunger due to insufficient food and income at certain times of the year”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “Even in adversity, there is still room for hope. Living in a post-conflict environment Muhammad has not been put down; she has put together a small garden that provides good food for her family and extra to sell and earn a living. Adversity will come just as Covid-19 has, but we can emerge stronger”.

Brian Ongoro

@brian_ongoro

A photographer based in Kisumu, Kenya, Brian covers East African and is an avid contributor to the AFP.

Tell us about the photo: “This photograph was taken in Kisumu, western Kenya during a cleanup exercise by a group of students. The students came out to clean areas surrounding Lake Victoria and a game park that is also next to the lake. Waves from the lake bring to shore plastics and other waste found in the lake.

The students have been home since March when schools were closed due to the spread of COVID-19. The students decided to organise themselves and spend their time at home cleaning up their environment. They want to engage in activities to help find solutions to the world’s problems — which they can participate in while they wait for infections from COVID-19 to reduce so that they can return to school.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “To me, this photograph shows that despite the challenges we are facing from COVID-19 and a lot of restrictions around the world, instead of just sitting and waiting for medical experts who are focusing on finding a vaccine for COVID-19, people can still focus their time and energy trying to solve other pressing issues”.

Roshni Lodhia

@roshni.lodhia

Roshni describes herself as a photographer for people, culture and conversation.

Growing up in Tanzania, Roshni found her calling in telling stories of grassroots conservation efforts through photography and film. Her work is unique in the way she captures light and the human spirit. Roshni has worked for conservation organisations, including The Nature Conservancy, in Tanzania, Kenya, Gabon, Seychelles, South Africa and India.

Tell us about the photo: “Joy and Antoney playing on their ancestral land in Paradamat, Kenya. Only a few kilometres away, zebras are grazing. It represents harmony between wildlife and humans.

This image is part of a series telling the story of Johnson Soit. Johnson Soit agreed to remove the fence on the land that he has leased out to Paradamat Conservancy Area to allow the wildlife to move freely. He says: “I agreed for the wild animals to roam around because that benefits us. From the lease payments, I pay my children’s school fees.”

Our award-winning journalists and content specialists are eager to help you make a difference. Contact us to find out how we can tailor our expertise to meet your needs.


Positive photos from a challenging year — 2020 was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Now, more than ever, it is important to tell the stories of those in need…

Photo: Massoud Hossaini/@WFP Afghanistan/ Arete . A child looks on as her mother and a doctor talk at the main hospital in Chaharikar, capital of Parwan province, Afghanistan.

As the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 continue to escalate across the world with over 60 million reported cases, now, more than ever, it is essential to tell the stories of those in need.

Although the global pandemic has presented NGOs with new and challenging circumstances for securing funding, some of which we will cover in more detail later, marketing efforts should be ramping up and not winding down. One should not give up telling the hard stories; those about people who are suffering from the effects of COVID-19 and other crises; those in urgent need of support.

The poignant question still remains: How do you garner backing for your campaigns amongst your target audiences when…

· Unemployment is rising and incomes falling — and will continue to do so. As a result, many people are struggling financially and turning to charities and their governments for support.

Financial uncertainty means people are less likely to support charities through monetary donations, as people try to reduce any non-essential expenses.

· Common freedoms have been restricted, such as the ability to purchase certain items, the freedom to go and do what we want, and the freedom to see who we want, when we want.

All of which is underpinned by feelings of powerlessness and frustration that the enforced circumstances of this challenging time lie beyond one’s control.

It’s not all bad news for driving advocacy…

A combination of being ‘locked down’, furloughed, working from home with more time on our hands and the ensuing winter months, mean that the average person is spending much more time in their home than usual, and as a result, more time online, watching television and engaging with other forms of media. This presents a unique and interesting opportunity to introduce new causes and brands via digital channels — albeit in a carefully curated way, as we will go on to discuss.

There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that ‘lockdown’ is leading to increased boredom. With less external stimulus, people are becoming more adventurous in the media they consume; looking to engage with stories vastly different from their own.

How we are helping WFP Afghanistan tell the story of their support for the Afghan people — as featured in the Telegraph

Photo: Massoud Hossaini/ @WFP Afghanistan/ @Arete . Life goes on, girls walk to school on a street in Kabul, Afghanistan.

As an example, Arete photojournalist, Massoud Hossaini, has been covering the current situation in Afghanistan — documenting the inspirational resilience of the Afghan people as well as the unrelenting lengths the World Food Programme will go to in order to be able to reach people all across the country.

Afghanistan is facing spiralling levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. Close to 17 million Afghans, or 45% of the total population, now face high levels of food insecurity and need urgent humanitarian assistance in order to survive. That’s 7.6 million more than at the beginning of this year, before COVID-19 hit. Around 2.9 million children and pregnant and breastfeeding women are malnourished.

In 2020, the World Food Programme scaled up its emergency food assistance to support more than 10 million people, nearly doubling the number of people WFP reached in 2019. Nutrition programmes are reaching more than 1 million individuals, including children under 5, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

Photo: Massoud Hossaini/ @WFP Afghanistan/ @Arete. A local guard warms his hands in Kabul.
Photo: Massoud Hossaini/ @WFP Afghanistan/ @Arete. World Food Programme trucks carry much-needed food supplies across the snowy Afghan mountains.

People who relate, donate

The global pandemic’s devastating effects have reached individuals in every socio-economic group. Many previously financially stable individuals, in more developed countries, are now experiencing unemployment, economic uncertainty, restrictions on personal freedom and an underlying sense of powerlessness and frustration with the current socioeconomic situation, with no end in sight.

Although this is an undeniably difficult set of circumstances for anyone to experience, it does present an opportunity for empathy to flourish. We are all connected by the far-reaching effects of this virus. It is possible that previous content and stories shared by NGOs, may not have been as relatable to the middle-class as they are now. Successful fundraising should tap into this new feeling to create a shared experience between the supporter of one’s cause and those in need.

Photo: Massoud Hossaini/ @WFP Afghanistan/ @Arete. Residents of Kabul who are affected by COVID-19 pandemic line up to register to receive cash assistance from the World Food Programme in district five of Kabul city.

Content that engages and inspires

The stories we choose to tell can also be a great source of inspiration for people who may be struggling as a result of the pandemic. Content that shows people responding to adversity with strength and resilience can inspire and lift our emotions. These feelings of positivity will often be attributed to your brand and campaign as a result — driving response to, and engagement with, your cause.

Photo: Dakman/ Quinn Mattingly/ Costa Foundation/ Arete

Don’t underestimate the importance of presentation

As with all forms of impactful marketing, the success of one’s campaigns will ultimately come down to how well they are aligned to the contemporary mood and challenges of the target audience.

It is at a time when it may seem prudent to delay planned campaigns until after the worst of the global pandemic has passed. In fact we should be sharing our hard hitting stories and campaigns now more than ever.

Our award-winning journalists and content specialists are eager to help you make a difference. Contact us to find out how we can tailor our expertise to meet your needs.


Now, more than ever, it is important to tell the stories of those in need… was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Why we think it’s important to use local experts

Photo: Isak Amin/ dTERRA/ Arete

As we sit here, late in October 2020, the status quo remains the same; COVID-19 remains a threat to people across the globe and NGOs continue to do their best to mobilise and support those who have been most affected by the pandemic. Yet, this public health emergency to many is just one more issue they have to deal with; on top of insecurity, natural disasters, poverty and already overloaded health systems. Humanitarian aid has never been needed more.

With people both working and schooling from home, there is an ever-increasing appetite for innovative online content that NGOs are keen to fill. They are also seeing a rise in the need for an increase in marketing to garner support — as much of their traditional fundraising channels, like charity shops, have dried up.

Photo: Sami Alhaw/ Oxfam/ PA

So how can NGOs respond to this increased requirement for content in an ethical and environmentally friendly way, while remaining mindful of the new status-quo? And how can they leverage strong content to help maintain funding levels?

Local talent is the key

It is encouraging to see NGO’s such as Comic Relief moving away from only using foreign consultants They have announced they will no longer be sending celebrities to Africa after criticism that such celebrities were being framed as “white saviours” (which we wrote about in 2018) and will also use local film-makers who have a “more authentic perspective” for its fundraising films.

Photo: Comic Relief

We have been working with locally-based photographers, writers and videographers from across the world for over 15 years. Local talent is abundant — but finding these professionals isn’t always straightforward.

These are some of the reasons why we champion local talent:

An unrivalled understanding of language and culture

Photo: Saiyna Bashir/ World Food ProgrammeArete

Photographers and videographers born and raised in the country or region of the project possess an innate understanding of the local language and culture. This can be particularly beneficial for communication between the various stakeholders in the project, as well as gathering first-hand accounts directly from the beneficiaries. This, in turn, can lead to the gathering of more authentic and nuanced content — that is more sensitive to the local context.

Many of our consultants also work within local media either as journalists or content-providers. This often gives rise to the opportunity for the story being used by local media — bringing additional exposure to the agency who has commissioned the work.

A recent example of this was a project we were hired to undertake for the World Food Programme in Pakistan. We worked with local photojournalist Saiyna Bashir to gather the story of how the WFP is supporting people in the rural Sindh with life-saving supplies. This resulted in local coverage in the DAWN and people from Pakistan contacted the WFP offering donations and support. The local awareness the story raised about the work of the WFP was hugely beneficial on many levels.

Photo: Saiyna Bashir/ World Food Programme/ Arete

Providing jobs and building skills

In many countries where NGOs and UN agencies operate, regular employment can be in short supply. Hiring local experts and collaborating with them on individual projects means they are able to develop their skillsets to align with the standards of global foundations, thus acquiring more prestigious resumes. By investing in the local economy, our projects are also able to support local families. This collaborative approach also demonstrates respect for local people, rather than framing the situation as a disconnected and stereotypical helper/beneficiary dynamic.

It’s better for the environment

Whether we work as freelancers or for an organisation we must all do our part to contribute towards a cleaner and healthier planet. Being able to limit one’s carbon footprint is a key concern and one NGOs must take very seriously from both a PR and environmental perspective. Local teams travel much shorter distances, and often don’t have to fly at all to get to the necessary location. The benefit to the environment is clear.

Covid-19 restrictions

With COVID 19 numbers still raging, travel restrictions and quarantine regulations are making things harder than ever before. Consequently, travel, once a simple matter of getting from A to B, has become inherently more complicated and more costly with a sharp rise in flight and health insurance costs. Local experts remove this problem and the time, and money, that would be needed to solve it.

Hear from some of our local experts:

Ismail Taxta — Somalia, Africa

Ismail is a Somali photojournalist, and we have been working with him since 2015. Ismail has worked on projects for the WHO, WFP, UNHCR, UNICEF, DEC and more.

“I was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and from a very young age, I have enjoyed reflecting on human life by making art and creating images. I started to pursue journalism from the age of 10, writing my own local weekly newspaper, the Yoobsan Press, which I wrote with a ballpoint pen. I got my first experience of working with international organisations at the age of 25 when I started working as a stringer for Reuters in 2007. I take pride in covering important local issues such as the civil war in Somalia, the 2011 drought the 2018 flooding.

In 2015 I started working with Arete, and over time I have developed my photography, editing, writing, illustrating, and storytelling skills. I have worked on some amazing projects, and my work has been featured in the international press as a result — most recently in The Guardian.”

Annie Mpalume — Zimbabwe, Africa

Annie worked with us on a project for UNICEF in her local Zimbabwe to document the experiences of breastfeeding mothers, the challenges they face and the support they receive from their families and communities.

“I initially studied photojournalism and documentary photography at the prestigious Market Photo Workshop in South Africa, Johannesburg, as my country did not have a learning centre that offered the skillset I wanted to acquire.

After my studies, I chose to return home to launch my career because at the time, the political and social situation was at its peak in Zimbabwe, and I felt it was my story to tell. “”

With Arete, I received a surprise call one day and was asked to work with UNICEF Zimbabwe on a project about breastfeeding mothers. At the time, I thought to myself, the project speaks to me and was God sent since I was also breastfeeding my baby. I learned a lot from this project, and it resulted in my first feature in the international media, with my photos used by Al Jazeera.”

React quickly and efficiently with Arete

Photo: Karel Prinsloo/ DECArete

Our worldwide network of local experts allows us to react quickly and efficiently when content is urgently required, or there are time-limitations in play. The need for permits, visas, and translators can add weeks on to the lead-time of projects, increasing the cost substantially. The Arete network of media experts provides a viable alternative.

At Arete, we manage every stage of the content gathering process from sourcing local talent through to post-production and oversight. Our in-house team has over 30 years of experience creating stories and sourcing content for the world’s most renowned news, media, and non-governmental organisations and by combining this experience with local expertise, we can deliver stories that truly make a difference.

Our award-winning journalists and content specialists are eager to help you make a difference. Contact us to find out how we can tailor our expertise to meet your needs.


Why we think it’s important to use local experts was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Are you picking the right social media platforms to share your content?

A cover photo from an Arete blog by Eden Sparke on Exposure.co

The goal of social media is to connect people, to act as the conduit through which billions of messages, images, and videos flow. But although social media platforms have a shared goal, in many cases they don’t have a shared audience.

For any business or organisation, social media marketing cannot be ignored. 97% of digital consumers have used social media in the past month and 50% of the global population uses social media; that’s 3.8 billion people — with this number increasing year on year (Digital 2020).

When social media was still a fledgeling concept it was typical for people to be active with all, or most of the platforms on offer. Now with so many different platforms available, people pick and choose which social media channels they want to engage with.

This choice is based on a variety of factors, in some cases, there is an element of brand loyalty, or a feeling of personal investment, for others it will come down to how that particular social media platform is designed: is the interface easy to use? Is the type of content that is on display what they want to see? Do they like the way it is presented? Or is this where they will find subjects they are interested in and want to explore?

Knowing your audience

Understanding which platforms attract what type of people is key to carrying out any form of social media marketing. This understanding will inform decisions on which social media platforms to focus attention and how to present content.

As a brand, an exercise to identify the demographic of the target audience will already have been undertaken — but on which social media platforms can this audience be found?

Popularity is a good place to start

Although the amount of active global users a platform has isn’t the only metric that should be taken into account when building a social media marketing strategy, it is a great place to begin.

The world’s most-used social media platforms January 2020 (Digital, 2020)

Globally, Facebook and Facebook Messenger remain the most used social media platform, followed by YouTube, WhatsApp, and Instagram. For example, as of January 2020, Facebook had over 2.1 billion more active users than Twitter.

Picking platforms based on the target audience

At Arete, we work primarily with global brands, who are looking to target global audiences. Whereas it can be inferred from the popularity metric that platforms like Facebook cannot be ignored, this doesn’t necessarily mean Twitter should be ignored either even though it is less widely used. Ultimately, this is why it is important to tailor a social media strategy and content that targets a specific audience.

FAO in Somalia Twitter page

Although it is useful to know the typical demographic of the users for each social media platform, it is also important to find out how effective each platform is on a country-by-country basis. For NGO’s and the charity sector, this can be a very useful tool for social media advocacy campaigns in particular regions; as well as allowing organisations to know how to develop different content for different countries

Instagram

Instagram certainly ticks the popularity box. It is the 5th most popular social media application in the world, with more than 1 billion active monthly users, with the average person spending 6 minutes and 35 seconds on Instagram every day.

It is also a tried and tested platform for business, with 92% of all Instagram users saying they have followed a brand, clicked on their website, or purchased something after seeing a product, or service, on the platform. This seamless integration of purchasing options can be very beneficial for NGOs looking to fundraise, either by selling merchandise through an Instagram shop or by adding a donation button to their profile.

Age International Instagram Profile with ‘donate’ button enabled

In terms of demographics, Instagram has a balanced range of people, based on gender and age, and a useful global reach; touching, on average, 15% of the world’s population.

From a content perspective, it remains the best place to share visual content such as photographs, graphics, and video. If the content is eye-catching, then Instagram is the place to be.

Facebook

Facebook, as we know, is the most used of all the social media platforms worldwide. Similarly to Instagram, it is used by a diverse range of people and boasts the presence of over 140 million businesses on its platform.

Furthermore, as Instagram is owned by Facebook, both platforms have been designed to work well together — allowing social media managers to crosspost content across both platforms in the click of a button, and displaying any paid-ads on both of the platforms at no extra cost.

Having a presence on Facebook has become non-negotiable for all consumer-facing businesses now, with 64% of people saying they would rather use Facebook to message a business rather than call or email. Particularly for charities and NGOs that are looking to target the younger generations, it is imperative to have a strong presence on Facebook for both outbound and inbound marketing.

Content on Facebook is geared more towards visuals such as photograph and video, but it also has a more extensive character limit per post, allowing for longer, story-type posts that can be more engaging and appeal to people on a deeper level than a typical tweet.

Globally, Facebook reaches an amazing 95% of people in the United Arab Emirates on one end of the scale and 7% of people in Russia — which is still 10.1 million people! On average, Facebook will reach 32% of the world’s population.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the more specialised social media platforms, with the aim of being a digital network for professionals. This has an effect on the type of content people post and engage with on LinkedIn and, as a result, how necessary organisations feel it is to have a presence.

DEC Linkedin Company Page

With 675 million monthly users worldwide, it pales in comparison to the likes of Instagram and Facebook; however, this 675 million people represents a specialised audience of ‘business people’. Consequently, 97% of B2B (business to business) marketers use LinkedIn for content marketing.

Interestingly, the largest percentile of people on LinkedIn are 25–34 years old and male.

Although, these demographics are less useful to businesses looking to market on LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows organisations to target audiences on indicators such as job titles, job experience, and organisations worked for, rather than simply age, gender, and interests.

Snapchat

Snapchat has become a go-to platform for many brands looking to reach the youngest members of society, particularly in the 13–20-year-old bracket. This makes Snapchat an interesting element for charities and NGOs as it is a proven way to reach millennials, generation z, and generation x users.

According to research, Millennials as a group are socially aware and willing to donate to causes they care about. Furthermore, 72% of Gen Z users on Snapchat are not reachable by TV Adverts.

The quality of engagement organisations and brands can drive on Snapchat is also thought to be much higher than apps such as Instagram, with an average Snapchat user spending 30 minutes on Snapchat every day (compared to just over 6 minutes on Instagram).

Due to Snapchat having a much smaller global audience than apps such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, a high potential reach rate doesn’t extend to many countries around the world. This means it can work well as a part of a geographically targeted strategy but perhaps not as well in a Global targeting strategy with an average 6% reach rate worldwide.

Greenpeace USA uses Snapchat to promote climate change awareness to the young audiences in America sharing quick and easy to digest content around helpful tips on how to build greener habits.

Don’t ignore smaller but more specialised platforms

Medium.com homepage

Online platforms such as Medium.com and Exposure.co aren’t large enough to make it on to a list of the Top 15 most used social media platforms worldwide; however, this doesn’t mean they aren’t worth your time and investment.

In fact, if you have fantastic imagery to share, and you have stories to tell, then both Medium and Exposure are places that should be highly regarded in your content marketing strategy. Not only do these platforms have their own, sometimes exclusive, audiences, both also have great synergy with the more popular social media platforms — creating eye-catching previews simply by entering the URL link.

UN Human Rights Medium Page

The United Nations Agency, UN Human Rights, actively uses Medium to post interviews and opinion driving conversation and awareness around topics that will garner support. These 4–5 minute reads are designed to be easily digested by their target audience, whilst still being able to cover enough ground to present a detailed and nuanced discussion.

Medium is the largest blog sharing platform on the world wide web, sharing your stories here will open up the opportunity of your story being discovered by someone entirely new who might not frequent any of the Top 15 social media platforms. Furthermore, as it is a blog sharing platform, you can tell your stories in far more detail than a simple social media post.

Exposure.co publications page

Exposure.co champions photo-led stories and curates all the content on the platform into different categories, which helps channel interested audiences. The ‘Causes’ section is filled with stories from various NGOs including the WWF, UNDP, and Oxfam.

An email Exposure.co will send if your article is featured

Both Exposure and Medium also have content curators who will decide which blog posts feature on the front page of a category. One of our From the Photographer blogs was recently featured in the Photography publication.

Exposure is younger than Medium and has been created in much the same way, with stories at the heart of the user experience. The key difference between Exposure and Medium is the way the stories are presented. On Exposure, far more emphasis is placed on the imagery, allowing for full-page photographs, eye-catching arrangements, and more. Exposure also has a large number of charities and NGOs on its platform; this attracts a certain audience, which you most likely want to get your stories in front of too.

Tailor the content to the platform and the audience

It is a waste of time trying to share in-depth stories on Twitter, or essays of text on Exposure. These platforms aren’t designed for this type of content and the audiences that frequent them won't enjoy it.

NGOs and charities that have successful digital marketing strategies, will carefully consider where to post the video update of the latest project, whether to use photos, text, emojis or links to promote the latest appeal, and the type of language that should be used to raise awareness for strategic partnerships.

The subject of the content will be consistent across all platforms, and this is key raising maximum awareness of the issue; however, the medium in which that content is delivered should always be tailored to the platform and the audience that typically resides there.

So which platform should we be using?

Ultimately, it will come down to who the target audience is. For example, global organisations with an international audience will likely be running different marketing campaigns targeted at a variety of audiences from around the world. These campaigns will be in different languages and take into account subtle differences in culture and syntax. The quality of the content and size of the budget allocated for advertising on social media will also influence the success of the campaign.

The best starting point with any foray into digital marketing is to ensure the carefully curated content is getting in front of the right people.

Taking the time to research and understand each target audience and then comparing these demographics with the data on the different social media platforms will ensure more targeted and efficient campaigns that ultimately pay dividends in achieving campaign goals.

At Arete, working with many NGOs and UN agencies, our team have acquired years of experience in the use of data to inform social media marketing, creatively present the outcomes of fundraising campaigns, design data collation frameworks, and more. How could our data-led approach help you?


Are you picking the right social media platforms to share your content? was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


From the photographer: Arete in Africa

Photo: Moses Sawasawa

At Arete, we seek to tell stories that make a difference. Our assignments take us across the globe, working with some of the world’s most renowned NGOs, supporting their vital work delivering humanitarian aid. Utilising a network of local experts in photography, video, and digital, we ensure our stories are told from authentic perspectives.

Our ‘From the Photographer’ series is a collection of first-hand accounts from our photojournalists as they carry out their assignments. Through the additional medium of writing, they are able to elaborate on the situations depicted in their photographs; relaying their thoughts and emotions in the moment, as well as everything that may have occurred outside of the frame.

Over the years, our ‘From the Photographer’ series has covered natural disasters such as Cyclone Idai, the chaos caused by the COVID-19 lockdown in Colombia, Ebola in the Congo, and the national polio vaccination campaign in Somalia.

In our latest addition to ‘From the Photographer’, we have created a mini-series with some of our skilled photojournalists from Africa. They each selected one single image to symbolise the unprecedented local effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We then shared these stories every day across our social media. Below, you can explore each one in its entirety:

Ismail Taxta — Somalia

Photo: Ismail Taxta/ DECArete

“After three weeks when the cases of the Coronavirus have increased in Somalia, I went out to for a four-day photography assignment of about how the disease is spreading in the country, and the role of the health workers at this crucial moment, the general public awareness of the prevention of the disease, the fear and the effects of the poor people who live in makeshift houses on the outskirts of Mogadishu.

The hospital doesn’t have adequate oxygen apparatus, the medical staff in the hospital told me that several patients who have been admitted in the hospital have recovered and discharged, while some other have succumbed to the disease. While you are in the quarantine centre you feel a lot of fear, because some people are in a very serious situation.”

KC Nwakalor — Nigeria

Photo: KC Nwakalor

“Faith Osi pours water on her head to cool down while working on her family’s cassava farm in Obrikom, in the heart of Nigeria’s oil-rich delta. Around the world, the poor and marginalized are much more likely to be vulnerable to extreme heat; methane gas flares burning around the clock in Obrikom make this already hot area worse still.”

Angela Jimu — Zimbabwe

Photo: Angela Jimu

Fourteen-year-old Tanatswa Chasakwa stopped going to school when they closed early in March due to Coronavirus. Now she spends her time indoors or around the yard.

“Before the lockdown, I used to go to school. The thing that I miss the most is participating in group sports like hockey, we missed the whole season of hockey and that was sad.”

Brian Ongoro — Kenya

Photo: Brian Ongoro

Developing a vaccine to protect people from the potentially deadly effects of the COVID-19 virus is a priority for scientific institutions across the world.

“Here a medical officer takes a COVID-19 sample at the laboratory of Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in #Kisumu, western Kenya.”

Moses Sawasawa — Democratic Republic of Congo

Photo: Moses Sawasawa

“I took these pictures at the #Majengo market, the day after the confirmation of the first case of Covid-19 in #Goma. The country had closed its borders and declared a state of emergency the previous week. The capital Kinshasa was confined and health authorities asked all Congolese to respect social distance.

Informal sector workers with few savings and often no electricity for refrigeration, they cannot buy food for more than a day or two. This creates a permanent demand for small business and markets.

At the same time, informal workers have no form of social protection and the Congolese health system is riddled with problems. So a sick person can bring ruin into a family. Yet people continue to go to markets not because they don’t care about their health, but because they can’t do otherwise.”

Isak Amin — Somaliland

Photo: Isak Amin/ doTERRA Healding Hands Foundation/ Arete

Isak, pictured here in the right of the photo, is part of a team documenting the story of a new specialist hospital complex funded by the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation in Somaliland.

Annie Mpalume — Zimbabwe

Photo: Annie Mpalume

Johanne Maswoe Apostolic Church members are waiting for rice donated by their leader, Madzibaba Mose in Highfield. The COVID-19 pandemic threatens an already critical food security situation in Zimbabwe.

Kelvin Debirdz — Kenya

Photo: Kelvin Debirdz

“Life goes on. A mural from Plan International, portraying the safety precautions to curb the spread of the Coronavirus in Nairobi, Kenya.”

Sunday Kiir — South Sudan

Photo: Sunday Kiir

Lockdown has led to many people being isolated and emergency services overstretched. As a result, there has been a reported increase in sexual violence against girls in South Sudan.

“A coalition of activists staged a protest demanding an end to impunity for rape and violence against women and girls in the country.

The women’s march was sparked after Eye Radio reported the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Gudele-a Juba suburb.”

We source and manage local experts in photography, video, digital and written content from around the world to help you tell stories that make a difference, working with you in the office or the field.

Contact us to find out how we can help you make an impact through exceptional storytelling and targeted communications strategies.

Read more from the Arete blog


From the photographer: Arete in Africa was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Get your shopfront in order this lockdown: How to manage your social media channels as an…

Get your shopfront in order this lockdown: How to manage your social media channels as an independent photographer

Ahead of our Arete photographer social takeover next month, we have put together our top tips for managing your social media platforms as an independent photographer or videographer.

You won’t be surprised to hear that there isn’t a magic formula for making your social media accounts successful marketing tools overnight. But there are some steps you can take to ensure that they authentically represent you and strategically position you to take advantage of online opportunities.

1. Choose your social channels carefully

Although being on more social channels will undoubtedly expose you to a broader audience, it can also leave you with a lot to do. If you choose to actively post on more than 2–3 channels, this will require both planning and management, which in turn could damage the spontaneity and authenticity of your posts. Find the right balance for the time you have available.

Social media management tools such as Hootsuite, or Buffer are useful — but quite often have limited options compared to posting directly on the platform. A good example is Buffer (a very popular social media management tool) that doesn’t allow you to add on additional tweets to your original post when you hit the character count. It is usually better to post directly on to platforms via their official apps if possible.

Your target audience and your content should lead your choice…

Identifying your target audience is vital. As an independent photographer, this might be publications you would like to be published in, commissioning editors or communication directors; these will be specific to your ambitions. Now you know who your target audience is, the chances are there is someone in your extended network who works in your target audience’s sector or perhaps even in the specific role. If at all possible, try to get a few minutes to pick their brain and discover which social media channels they use most regularly and for what. Failing that, a little online research can go a long way…

For example, generally, Facebook is often used as a personal storyboard for friends and family, LinkedIn is used as a networking and self-promotion tool, and Instagram is built around images, videos, and ‘influencers’.

If you would find a personal consultation on this topic helpful, please just let us know.

This is why it is important to choose your social channels carefully. Try to focus on those where your target audience is most likely to be and are designed for the content you will be posting.

As a photographer or videographer, Instagram will likely be your greatest tool. Although the most popular social platforms change from country to country, as of 2020, Instagram is the number one globally. Instagram has been built specifically for the sharing of images and short videos, so make sure this is where you are focussing most of your attention.

Separate the personal and the professional

If you like to use platforms such as Instagram personally, it is worth having a separate account for your photography identity and to set it up as a ‘business account’. This will give you more options for self-promotion and ensure other people don’t have to ‘request to follow you’ to see your posts.

Having separate accounts will benefit both the personal and professional aspects. By only having a professional account, you could end up stifling your creativity — as you worry about taking or posting photos that don’t match with your professional persona or chosen specialisation.

Conversely, with only a personal account, the photographs you display become less of a specialised edit and more of an eclectic mix of anything and everything you like to photograph. Which brings us nicely on to the next point…

2. Know your niche

Your niche or specialisation should be clear from the moment somebody visits your social media page. Think assiduously about what cover or profile photo you choose, set a scene from the start and tie this in with a short piece of informative text.

The bio section on Instagram is an excellent example of this. Your characters are limited, so it is important to choose your words carefully. Don’t be afraid to use emojis in place of certain words, and make sure you take advantage of the option to add a link to your website, Vimeo or other supporting material.

If you have decided to be a professional photographer, then you most likely know your niche by now. This could be something such as, Photojournalism, Wildlife, Documentary, Event, Sports, or Adventure. Keep in mind that anything you post (including captions) will add to the overall image of who you are as a professional photographer and person. Stay on brand, demonstrate your devotion to your niche, and people will soon begin to associate you with your speciality. Always ensure your spelling and grammar are good — people who may want to employ you will notice this.

If you look up any famous photographer you will notice immediately what their niche is:

David Hurn — Documentary Photographer

Georgina Goodwin — Documentary Photographer

3. Hashtags are your friend

Pretty much every social media platform has incorporated the use of hashtags. By clicking on a hyperlinked hashtag on a platform such as Twitter, or LinkedIn, you are immediately taken to a page. On this page, all the posts that have used that hashtag are displayed chronologically.

Hashtags can be great for joining a conversation about something that is very current, such as #Covid19 or #BLM (Black Lives Matter). Hashtags are also very useful for aligning your content to a global interest or theme, such as #photojournalism or #ThrowbackThursday.

Don’t underestimate hashtags as a tool for getting your content in front of your target audience. Think broadly about subjects your target audience may be interested in and then do a little research into popular hashtags within these subjects. For example, we work with many charities and NGOs, so we often use #CharityTuesday to position our photographs and other content in front of people who are interested in charity.

It can also be useful to spend some time exploring hashtag pages yourself. This can be a great way to stumble across opportunities for you to join a topical conversation, engage with people in your target audience, and collaborate with people in your field.

4. Collaboration is queen (or king)

The clue is in the name, social media. Don’t be afraid to contact people out of the blue to network or discuss opportunities to collaborate.

It is worth managing your expectations — keep in mind that hugely popular social media personalities with tens of thousands of followers are likely to find it challenging to respond to every single private message or comment.

A good place to start is with other photographers or photojournalists that have a similar follower count to your own. By offering to share some of their content on your page, and vice versa, each of you gains the opportunity to get your imagery in front of a new audience. Although time-consuming, this is a great way to grow your following and increase your brand awareness.

When contacting people, if they offer an email address on their profile, this should always be your first port of call. If not, then a private message should do the job. Aim to keep your message concise and authentic. If you come across too formal, it may be misconstrued as spam; alternatively, if you come across too informal, this could also reflect poorly. Just be yourself and don’t overthink it.

5. Maintain your presence and choose your content carefully

Once you have gone to all the hard work of identifying your target audience, gearing your pages to authentically represent you and your niche, the next step, and sometimes the most difficult, is to maintain your presence.

There is a lot of noise in the social media space, although that doesn’t mean you have to shout the loudest to be heard.

As a photographer, your content is your voice. Don’t just put any old up there, perform a mini-edit, and choose only the best shots. If you post too much, you will just be contributing to the noise.

A carefully thought out caption and selection of hashtags, alongside a captivating image, will go a long way on a platform such as Instagram. And remember, keep your content relevant to your niche.

Consistency is key

Aim to post a minimum number of times per week. We recommend somewhere between 2–4 times per week.

This will work to retain the followers you already have as it will remind them why they chose to follow you in the first place. Furthermore, each post will act as an opportunity to attract new followers. And finally, if there is a hashtag you often use, such as #wildlifephotographer, this will also ensure you maintain your presence and relevance on the #wildlifephotographer page for frequent visitors.

6. Your social is your shop window

Never shy away from self-promotion. There are certainly more tasteful ways to do it but avoiding it altogether because you feel awkward will only serve to harm your opportunities. Think of your social media as your shop window — a shop all about you, the professional photographer.

You’ve gone through all the previous steps to build your social media pages , curating the content, and joining online conversations via hashtagging and collaboration. Each of these steps serves to make your shop window look as attractive and interesting as possible. But even this doesn’t guarantee your target audience will engage with you.

Seek out self-promotion opportunities via the web, network both online and off, and most importantly, direct all potentially interested parties to your social media account. If there is genuine interest or they have an opportunity to offer, then your social provides them with all the tools they need to get in touch with you.

And that’s all there is to it! Now get out there and get your shopfront in order.

Contact us for a consultation on how to manage your social media channels as an independent photographer

Read more from the Arete blog


Get your shopfront in order this lockdown: How to manage your social media channels as an… was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


From the Photographer — ‘Get me back to Caracas’: desperate Venezuelans leave lockdown in Bogotá

From the Photographer — ‘Get me back to Caracas’: desperate Venezuelans leave lockdown in Bogotá

Arete photographer, Keoma Zec, writes about his experiences documenting the homeward journeys of Venezuelans from Bogotá. For many Venezuelans living in Colombia, fleeing the COVID-19 lockdown to walk over 500km through the extreme conditions of the Andes, looks like their best hope for survival.

A Venezuelan family takes a break outside of Bogota, Colombia on their journey home to Cucuta, Venezuela on the 3rd of May 2020. © Keoma Zec

Back in early April when the lockdown had just started, Colombia like every other country on the planet was anxiously waiting to see what the virus would do. After two weeks of waiting, I ventured out with my friend — fellow journalist Bram Ebus to the highway leaving Bogotá.

We had heard that hundreds of Venezuelans had decided to leave the city, and even the country, on foot because of the measures imposed because of Coronavirus, to return to their home country. Why? Because of the lockdown.

Since 2016 Colombia has seen a steady influx of Venezuelan migrants looking for better lives in Colombia. It is estimated that 1.8 million Venezuelan migrants came to Colombia, the majority of whom are working in informal industries. This usually means they have very few savings and so a few days of no work means no food on the table.

Venezuelans walk past a military post in Bogota, Colombia as they begin their journey back to Venezuela on the 3rd of May 2020. © Keoma Zec
A Venezuelan child pokes their head out of the cart normally used for collecting recyclable materials. His family are embarking on a journey back to Venezuela, pictured outside Bogota, Colombia, on the 7th of May 2020. © Keoma Zec

As we ventured out to the highway leaving the capital city of Colombia, we instantly noticed lots of people walking. We ran into many groups of Venezuelans, mainly families with kids and they all had the same response.

They weren’t able to afford rent anymore so they had no choice but to go back. Inter-city transport had been put on hold — which is still the case four months later — so many people had just started to walk back.

To give you an idea of this challenge, Bogotá is at 2559 metres in altitude (which is higher than any ski resort in the European Alps) and is surrounded by the Andes mountain range. The walk to the Venezuelan border town Cucutá can take between 3 and 5 weeks and over 500 mountainous kilometres, and that is only to the border. Over the weeks working on this project, I met people who had walked from Peru, through Bogotá, towards Caracas. A journey that is 2500 kilometres long and would take months. This journey goes from freezing cold at high altitudes to blistering heat nearing the Venezuelan border.

A young Venezuelan man, having left everything behind, rests from his 500km barefoot journey back home to Venezuela, outside Bogota, Colombia on the 7th of May 2020. © Keoma Zec

After talking to many groups of people, listening to their stories and taking their photos, I decided I had to do something. Not only to get the story out, which ended up being published in The New Humanitarian and with Crisis Group, but I decided to tap into my own network of friends in Europe and gather some donations to help these people out. This is obviously far from a long term solution to a large and complicated problem, but at least I could help a few people.

I managed to raise around £1800 and started looking for other people to help me. A Dutch friend of mine, who runs a charity, decided to help out, as well as a new friend who owns a vegan restaurant and was willing to cook fresh meals. So far, we have made 250 vegan meals and taken them out to the people, as well as 250 big bags of food for families in need. We ended up driving out of the city looking for people who were walking. We handed them meals and other food that they could take with them on their long walk, as well as some blankets we received as donations.

Three months down the line, the problem hasn’t developed — nor has it been solved. Venezuelans still are walking back. The Colombian government have decided to prolong the quarantine until August 1st and cases are now hitting record highs every day for the last few weeks. This obviously puts many people in increasingly difficult positions as cases rise and the lockdown tightens, forcing people to stay inside and stop working.

An estimated 100,000 Venezuelans have returned home now, via the border town of Cucutá which is now a big problem in itself. Thousands of Venezuelans end up by the border not being allowed to cross home because of Coronavirus. Only 300 people a day are allowed to enter the country and the horror stories circulating among Venezuelans here in Bogotá of what is happening to people who are stuck in limbo — are haunting. Yet many people continue to make the decision to return home. Knowing the future is very uncertain and that they may face persecution upon arrival at the border — yet they are left with no choice. At least in Venezuela, they will have a roof over their heads and family they can count on.

A Venezuelan father and his children take shelter in their makeshift tent in the migrant camp by the highway on the outskirts of Bogota, Colombia on the 8th of May 2020. © Keoma Zec

In early June, it was thought that the flow of people walking had reduced so a makeshift refugee camp was set upright on the edge of the city. Initially, about 600 people lived in the camp with no electricity or water. I decided to take a look to see what was happening and spent the rest of the donation money on helpful goods. I managed to buy an infrared thermometer, stoves to cook on and about 400 bottles of disinfecting alcohol. The migrants stayed there as a form of protest — asking for help from the Colombian government to get to the border. Now the camp has been cleaned up and a lucky few have been taken in buses to Cucutá. The rest are still stuck in the bus terminal. The Colombian government promised weeks ago to help put them on buses to the Venezualan border — but this still hasn’t happened.

This is a silent humanitarian crisis — and one that is getting very little attention globally. While people now just want to go home, they have seen the opportunity of a better life that has now slipped through their fingers. They now don’t know what is waiting for them on the other side. Once their suffering in Colombia comes to an end and they make it to the border, their next ordeal awaits them in the broken country that they call home.

A young Venezuelan man walks across the boundary of Bogota city on the 8th of May 2020. This is the beginning of his month-long walk back home to Venezuela. © Keoma Zec


From the Photographer — ‘Get me back to Caracas’: desperate Venezuelans leave lockdown in Bogotá was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


From Our Photographer: Covering Coronavirus in Lagos’ Slum-on-Stilts.

By Damilola Onafuwa

Arete photographer Damilola Onafuwa tells us about his experiences on assignment for our client the World Food Programme in May 2020. He was documenting their rollout of a home school-feeding programme in disadvantaged areas of Lagos in response to the Coronavirus lockdown.

Arete Photographer Damilola Onafuwa on assignment for WFP in Lagos, Nigeria, on 21st May, 2020. © Damilola Onafuwa

Lagos is the economic centre of Nigeria. With a population of about 25 million people, it is densely populated with a largely informal economy. Most people have to earn their living daily.

The first COVID-19 case in Nigeria was in my home city, Lagos. When it was first discovered, I could not help but wonder what a major breakout in Nigeria would be like. My main worry was that if COVID-19 spread here, it would be a disaster nobody was prepared for. It was clear that the people living in low-income areas would be the most affected.

I have lived and worked in Lagos most of my life and the rhythm of the city is like nothing I have experienced anywhere else: the colors, the noise, and the lifestyle. Lagos is a place of activity; everything is loud here, the music, the markets, the often-cramped yellow buses, the churches and mosques. At the end of March 2020, the President announced a lockdown of Lagos and other major cities within the country to help stop the spread of COVID-19. All economic activities were halted and everyone was told to stay at home to curb the spread of the virus.

A crowded Balogun market in Lagos Island, Lagos, Nigeria on 25 September 2018. Photo: Damilola Onafuwa

Another major issue presented itself as Lagos went into lockdown. With economic activities on pause, the vast majority of people who depended on daily incomes to feed their families were no longer able to make a living. This seriously affected their ability to get by.

Almost two months later, a few days after the government started to ease the lockdown, I was on assignment with the World Food Programme (WFP) who were providing technical support to Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs. I was documenting the provision of home food rations to parents of children in Primary 1–3 enrolled in schools that had been closed in the lockdown.

An empty classroom with books in a Primary School in Lagos, Nigeria, on 22nd May, 2020. Photo: Arete / Damilola Onafuwa / WFP
An empty classroom with books in a Primary School in Lagos, Nigeria, on 22nd May, 2020. Photo: Arete / Damilola Onafuwa / WFP

I was eager to see what difference this intervention would make for the beneficiaries; I wondered what it was like to stay locked up inside your house for weeks with no source of income because your income depended largely on daily sales.

On the first day of distribution, we visited Makoko, which is the largest slum in Lagos. The scale of the population living here in stilted houses is unknown but understood to be at least 100,000. Makoko is situated along the Lagos Lagoon, between the Lagos Mainland and Lagos Island. You can see the vast stilted community from the 3rd Mainland Bridge. I had enjoyed working in Makoko several times before and was keen to return. I was accompanied by Adedeji from WFP Nigeria. We boarded a wooden boat and were rowed for about 20 minutes to the home of Alice Tinsheme, a grandmother who was receiving the food ration for her grandson David, aged 8. David’s parents live and work in Cotonou, Benin and he lives with his grandmother, attending school in Makoko.

A view of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria, on 21st May, 2020. Photo: Arete / Damilola Onafuwa / WFP

Alice works as a fish smoker. She buys the fish from fishermen, smokes them and supplies them to stalls at the market. She told us her business had been seriously impacted by the lockdown because the markets have been closed. With nowhere to supply her fish to, her income had vanished. She said all the money she had saved had to be spent on feeding herself and her dependents.

Alice Tinsheme, aged 50, and her grandson David, aged 8, receive their food voucher in her home in Makoko, Lagos, Nigeria. 21st May, 2020. Photo: Arete / Damilola Onafuwa / WFP

Alice’s story highlights the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown on people from low-income communities in Lagos.

The next day food distribution started in the schools. Parents had received food vouchers the previous day in their homes and were invited to come to the school and collect their take-home food rations. At the entrance, a tap of running water and soap was provided and the WFP staff ensured that everyone maintained social distancing.

A beneficiary of the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme washes her hands in Makoko, Lagos, Nigeria on 22nd May, 2020. Photo: Arete / Damilola Onafuwa / WFP

The beneficiaries were asked to present their food vouchers for verification. After this, their names were checked from a database and they were invited to collect their food rations. It was a really easy process so everyone could get their food on time and go back home.

Beneficiaries of the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme observe social distancing as they get their food vouchers verified on 22nd May, 2020. Photo: Arete / Damilola Onafuwa / WFP

On Monday 25th May 2020, I met Elizabeth who was also a beneficiary of the program. Her daughter Geraldine is student of the school and she had come to collect the food on her behalf. She told me that her dream for her daughter would be for her to “get to great heights”. She wanted her to get the education that she had missed out on herself. She expressed concern for how the lockdown had affected Geraldine’s studies but made clear that she was grateful for the food they had received. The food provision meant they would be able to manage for a while, waiting for the economy and schools to reopen.

The distribution continued for the rest of the week. I met and spoke with other parents who had been affected but were trying to stay safe while still providing for their families.

I know it is unrealistic to meet the needs of everyone affected by the impact of the Coronavirus, but I could see how initiatives like this WFP one really help to cushion the effect of such a sudden economic downturn. As the lockdown lifts and Lagos opens gradually, people will start to get back to work and be able to make a living once more.

Elizabeth Anabu, aged 30, speaks with her daughter Geraldine Anabu in their home in Makoko, Lagos, Nigeria on Monday 25th May 2020. Photo: Arete / Damilola Onafuwa / WFP

There was no shortage of technical challenges shooting in this location. Firstly, it was at the beginning of the rainy season in Lagos and we had to time the canoe trips by reading the weather so as to avoid torrential downpours. The journeys take a minimum of 20 minutes but it’s easy to get caught up in canoe-traffic-jams for a long time. Another risk to avoid was falling into the water from the canoe, as happened to me on a previous shoot in Makoko — fortunately, I managed to avoid this fate on this occasion.

Gaining access to shoot in this community was a delicate process. I worked with a fixer from within the community who was able to negotiate with the area boys to vouch for our team’s integrity. They were suspicious that we were from the government trying to evict them. Our fixer acted as a gatekeeper and a conduit for establishing trust within the community who, understandably, wanted to know how the images would be used. Once we were found to be non-threatening, the people of Makoko were incredibly warm, friendly and welcoming, even offering us food and water.

The homes of the families we were visiting in Makoko were all tiny and very dark, which created a big challenge for composition and exposure. I handled this by avoiding compositions that showed the windows, but they (and their accompanying flare) were hard to avoid. On some occasions, I was able to make good use of the stark silhouettes that these conditions create. An example of this is with the portrait of Elizabeth and her daughter, shown above, which I exposed for the scene they were looking out onto. This showed them in their immediate surroundings: their world, from their point of view.

It was a real privilege to shoot this assignment for the WFP. It felt so important to bear witness to what this extraordinary moment in global history looks like in a place like Makoko.

See more of Damilola’s photos in this article on the WFP website.


From Our Photographer: Covering Coronavirus in Lagos’ Slum-on-Stilts. was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


The power of exhibitions and whether they could work online…

Photo: Kate Holt/ Opportunity International/ Arete

The discussion around the power of exhibitions — and whether they can work online — is particularly topical at the moment as we enter the 4th month of the COVID-19 induced lockdown. The arts and culture sector in the UK is on the ropes. The closure of venues and no clear plan in place for when they will reopen, or in what form, has left the industry reeling. As a result, over 100 leading creative figures in the industry have signed a letter calling for the government to prevent the demise of the sector.

As a creative organisation, we have experienced this first hand with a planned impact exhibition for Opportunity International postponed because of the lockdown. It has made us think. There is no doubt that exhibitions are a powerful tool for charities and NGOs for many reasons which we will dive into later; however, is this power lost when exhibitions are presented purely online? Or do they have even more power?

The power of exhibitions

Impact exhibitions are usually open to the public and held in venues in high-footfall metropolitan areas, like city centres, so that they are easily accessible and attract passers-by. This is partly what makes impact exhibitions a powerful tool for charities and campaigns. Carefully curated content, such as photographs, videos and stories, can be used to attract people who hadn’t planned to attend the exhibition but are passing by. As we saw with an exhibition we created for PLAN International UK, this provides a great opportunity to educate new people about both the cause and the brand, therefore, widening the supporter base and generating advocacy for the issue/s being explored in the exhibition.

Charities can use this platform to position their organisation at the centre of the conversation around the issue, which will, in turn, raise the overall profile of the charity, its prestige, and its legitimacy as being a positive force for change. It also provides a forum for charities to bring together people from their community who wouldn’t normally meet, such as supporters, staff, and trustees. This in itself will act as a hive of networking and creativity, as people form new ideas and relationships over a selection of free drinks (if it’s the opening night!).

Photo: Kate Holt/ Plan International UK/ Arete. A photograph of Helena from the PLAN International UK exhibition by Kate Holt. Helena fled with her family to escape fighting in her hometown of Abear. All of their possessions were stolen along with many of their cattle. Helena has never been to school because she has to look after the remaining cattle, and the family normally eats once per day.

This power of bringing people together and creating a shared experience is something that can have huge impact. Exhibitions bring the issue to life, where professionally captured images and video are able to instigate a feeling of intimacy between the viewer and the subjects, catalysing an emotional response that will help the viewer feel a little of what the beneficiaries are experiencing. This is their life and their world, and for a short period of time, the exhibition transports the viewer there — taking them on a journey of discovery.

Should exhibitions continue with the risk of COVID-19?

Photo: Kate Holt/ Opportunity International/ Arete. A photograph from the Opportunity International UK Exhibition for World Refugee Week centred around the Nakivale settlement in Uganda.

The emergence of COVID-19 has certainly altered the way we go about our daily lives and although much has changed, the needs served by impact exhibitions are anything but diminished. In fact, with COVID-19 causing harm to people’s physical and mental health across the globe, perhaps now, as charities find their resources stretched, there is a need for exhibitions that help with advocacy and fundraising more than ever.

Beyond this, as already discussed, exhibitions provide a fantastic opportunity for a meaningful and shared experience, which with social distancing measures in place, is another commodity people are in short supply of right now. There will always be a need for powerful imagery that transcends the medium on which it is presented, eliciting an emotional response and a lasting connection. Exhibitions, whether carried out in-person or online, still provide a high-quality shared experience.

How could impact exhibitions continue with the current limitations?

Photo: Kate Holt/ Opportunity International/ Arete. A photograph from the Opportunity International UK exhibition that is postponed.

We have seen many organisations and industries adapt during this unprecedented time and the culture sector is no exception. Some exhibitions have been postponed in the hope that venues will be allowed to reopen, others have taken advantage of online event platforms such as Hopin, hoping to capitalise on the vast numbers of people who find themselves stuck at home and spending a large proportion of their time online.

Although, as we will explore, there are some advantages and disadvantages to presenting an exhibition in the online space. As we found during a recent interview with painter, Daniel MacCarthy, if adequately advertised and sign-posted, online exhibitions can work well.

Dan MacCarthy is a painter based between Wales and London. He had an impressive run of exhibitions lined up for the spring and summer of 2020, but they were all affected by the lockdown. However, one exhibition, in rural Wales where he is from, went ahead online and attracted a surprising number of viewers.

Artist Daniel MacCarthy with his painting, ‘Edgar Derby’s Tea Pot’

How did you find attendance at your first online exhibition?

“A really wide range of people engaged with the exhibition online. I was surprised, a lot of people I’ve never heard of, some in America, some UK-based, friends and strangers. I think a lot came through the Instagram route. The exhibition completely sold out, so I added more pictures and it sold out again!”

With this being purely online, how did you create the exhibition feel?

“We did a written piece with the two artists ‘in conversation’, which was a nice way of reflecting on the collection and inviting the audience into a discussion around the work.”

Has anything come from this new online norm due to lockdown?

“I’ve been involved in something called the Artist Support pledge, which has been a real game changer. For the first time in my life I can make a good living being an artist. It cuts out the gallery. I’m sending out about 20 packages per week. I think people are locked down at home staring at bare walls, they’ve realised they want to invest in decent art and this is an affordable way of doing so. Lockdown has changed things in a big way, some for the better.”

We also spoke to artist and performance designer, Miriam Nabarro, about her views on whether online exhibitions could become the new norm:

Artist, Miriam Nabarro in the studio.

“Several major art institutions are making more work accessible online — which has a major impact on accessibility for everyone under the Covid Lockdown. But there is no substitute being able to immerse themselves in the real thing and the physical experience of the real thing. Galleries, exhibitions and museums are monuments of peace and prosperity. They are about being able to access priceless works of art that everyone can access for free. The experience is as much about the place and space as it is about the works on show”.

Issue 755 of The List

The List is a publication that gathers and distributes information on upcoming events and entertainment from across the UK. Robin Hodge, Co-Founder at The List, said on the topic of online exhibitions,

“Those who are prepared to experiment can find ways to present work to an audience and so keep culture alive”.

He pointed to organisations such as the Wigmore Hall, a concert venue that has continued to present performers via a live stream and downloadable content on their website.

Are online exhibitions the future?

It is clear online exhibitions can work but are they the future? There are certainly some benefits to holding an exhibition purely online; however, there are also several areas where the exhibitor will lose out. Arguably one of the most important is the ‘opening night effect’. The opening night of any exhibition, impact or otherwise, is often touted as the most crucial time. This is, generally, when the exhibition is its busiest, and it is where many of the positive results of the exhibition, such as inter-stakeholder discussion, engagement and the formation of new ideas, relationships and advocacy, are generated.

Although the ‘opening night effect’ wouldn’t be lost entirely with an online exhibition, as integrated group video calls and chat forums can make up for some of the discussion and engagement, these positive results would be diminished.

A visitor to the Oxo Gallery in London views one of the photographs chosen for the BLINK: The end is in sight exhibition by Sightsavers.

Exhibiting only online also limits the versatility of the exhibition, limiting the use of exhibition enhancing technologies such as those pictured above in an exhibition we were part of for Sightsavers at the Oxo Gallery in London. Sightsavers took advantage of cutting-edge camera and screen technologies to provide the viewers with an experience that illustrates the debilitating effects of trachoma. For people with trachoma, every blink of the eye can cause excruciating pain. Trachoma is an eye condition where the eyelid starts to turn inwards; the eyelashes scrape painfully across the eyeball. The disease is infectious and can spread easily in areas that lack proper sanitation and clean water. It is a degenerative disease that worsens over time, trapping people in a cycle of poverty and dependencey on others for their care.

A view of the Sightsavers exhibition from outside the gallery.

The camera, situated just above or below the screen — would track the eye movement of the viewer, counting how many times they blinked. Every time a viewer blinked, the image would gradually decay, representing how someone suffering from trachoma would see the world as their eyesight deteriorated. Although there are new and exciting technologies, like virtual reality, that can be utilised by online exhibitions, these are still limited by accessibility, which, it can be argued, limits the effectiveness of online exhibitions versus those delivered in-person.

Although there is a school of thought that the presence of other people during an exhibition is beneficial, the opposite could also be posited. Does the presence of other people, particularly those we are familiar with, act as a distraction? Ultimately detracting from the quality of engagement an attendee has with the exhibition and therefore the connection with the cause?

Presenting an exhibition online could allow people to be more focussed. Furthermore, the curator of the exhibition would be able to exert more control over how it is viewed, ensuring that the content is displayed in a specific order, or for a certain amount of time, which could serve to bolster the storytelling experience.

And then there is the financial cost. With no space to rent, or exhibition displays to create, an online exhibition could prove to be a much cheaper option for some organisations. This would allow for more funds to be directed towards advertising, which in turn could expose the exhibition to a broader audience.

Online exhibitions also have no borders or boundaries. Anyone, anywhere in the world, providing they have access to the internet, can buy a ticket and gain instant access allowing the impact of an exhibition to transition across borders and timezones, gathering support and advocacy from much further afield. This is, perhaps, the most beneficial factor online exhibitions can bring.

What is the conclusion?

Impact exhibitions, whether delivered online or in-person, can be a powerful marketing and fundraising tool for charities. Online exhibitions can provide an alternative for when we find ourselves living within circumstances such as those delivered by the outbreak of COVID-19; although, perhaps they aren’t the best medium to deliver content just yet.

With the development and improvement of accessibility to technologies such as virtual reality, it is clear to see how this could change. The ability of online exhibitions to engage with people all over the globe on their own terms cannot be ignored. However, the benefits gained from the ability to utilise exhibition-enhancing technologies and gathering a community in one place for the ‘opening night effect’ remain the most powerful.

At Arete, we specialise in creating authentic and engaging content, including films, exhibitions, images and articles; utilising our network of local photojournalists and content creators to search out stories on the ground. With such a large quantity of online media on offer, it is essential now more than ever to ensure content is of the highest quality.

Arete photojournalist, Kate Holt, in South Sudan for PLAN International UK.

Contact us to find out how we can help you make an impact through exceptional storytelling and targeted communications strategies.

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The power of exhibitions and whether they could work online… was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.