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Making the Most of Staff and Volunteer Photos

Simon has been involved in software development since the days of paper tape. He has developed niche software for information management.

Get some ideas for making the most of your organization's staff photos or volunteer photos.

Get some ideas for making the most of your organization's staff photos or volunteer photos.

Best Practices for Staff Photos

Photos of staff or volunteers in organizations are often displayed on noticeboards, intranets or sometimes websites. They serve a useful purpose in facilitating communication within and outside the organization. Some of the pros and cons of staff photos are discussed by Grenfell 2009, such as helping new staff learn who's who (pro) and privacy concerns (con).

Obtaining the Photos

Your organization may be able to have someone photograph everyone who works or volunteers for it, and there are many articles (e.g., Strydom 2016, Ahlman 2016) describing how to get the best possible photographs and get a high-quality, homogeneous set of images to work with. However, it may not be possible to do this—volunteer organizations may have members who are never in the same place at the same time, and it may be impossible to get them all in front of the same camera. The next best thing in this situation is to ask people to send in head-and-shoulders photos of themselves.

Incorporating Names

Attaching names to these photos is particularly important when photos arrive via email, as the sender generally presumes that the email will remain attached to the photo. This can be easily achieved by incorporating the name of the person depicted in the file name. However, mobile devices do not routinely show image file names.

Names may be written onto the photo pixels by almost any image editing software, such as Paint (for Windows), but ensuring that the name text is appropriately sized and positioned may tax the graphic design skills of the person assembling the photos. Dedicated captioning programs such as Caption Pro are useful for this purpose.

Preparing the Display

Making photos from disparate sources presentable can be a challenge—you may receive born-digital mobile phone photos, digital camera images or even scanned color prints or newspaper photos with different resolutions and sizes.

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Preparing a hard-copy staff photo display is usually a matter of attaching prints of the photos to a backing with text below or beside the photo showing the name and organizational role. The whole display may be created electronically as a table in Microsoft Word where each cell contains the photo, name, role and contact details, as shown below. Word provides editing and cropping facilities for photos, which may be very useful. The table can then be printed as a single sheet which serves as the staff directory.

This is an example of a staff photo display using tables in Word.

This is an example of a staff photo display using tables in Word.


The entire sheet must be reprinted if staff move roles, leave or arrive, but the ability to save the entire display as a Web page makes it possible to create an intranet display easily.

In larger organizations, especially those with a branch structure, staff details and photos may be provided within the intranet as part of the Personnel or IT system database, with staff able to edit their particulars and conduct searches. Leaving updates in the hands of users frequently results in out-of-date information and loss of confidence in the staff directory unless staff are given some incentive to keep data up to date.

Intranet vs. Hard Copy Displays

Whilst such systems provide excellent access to individuals’ data and photos via a computer, they are seldom able to produce a hard copy of multiple records (such as that shown above) for placement in reception areas, and the process of extracting the required information from the database may be onerous.

Large organizations may also use photographic security passes, and if a dedicated facility for producing these is not available, staff photos may be used for this purpose.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Simon Kravis

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