By Jonathan Howe
A recent trend that is really catching on around holidays in churches is the use of photo stations. Easter, Mother’s Day, and Christmas seem to be the top three times churches use these photo stations to capture pictures of families.
There are several benefits to these photo stations. They can create a fun atmosphere at the church, provide opportunities for families to get a shareable picture, and can help promote the church. But like anything else churches do related to events or promotion, there are some pitfalls to avoid. If your church decides to set up family photo stations for a holiday or event, take into consideration these eight items:
- Use a hashtag. For those who choose to share the pics online, it’s nice to have a way to track them for your church. Your church may already have an Easter or Christmas hashtag you’re using for promotion, so use that. If not, maybe use something simple yet unique to your church. For example, #Easter2017 might be a bit vague.
- Post the pics in an album on your church’s Facebook page. Use an iPad, iPhone, or digital camera on a tripod to take the pics and upload them into an album people can view on Facebook. They can tag themselves, download the pics, share them with friends, etc. You will likely see a greater engagement in your church’s Facebook page as a result. Simplicity of sharing and downloading is key when you host a family photo station. Finally, make sure everyone knows the pictures are being posted online. There may be a few families who might object to posting them. That’s perfectly normal. Just email those to them instead.
- Set up multiple photo stations. This will keep lines down and keep kids from melting down while they wait. Identical stations with several volunteers will make things easier for families and your photographers.
- Set up near the children’s area if possible. Families will be the ones who will most want to take a picture. Make the location of your photo station convenient for them. If you don’t have the room in this area, consider a larger foyer that gets traffic on a regular Sunday. Just try to avoid making the station tough to find or difficult to get to.
- Announce it prior to the big day. Let families know to show up early for the photos. Also, if your congregation knows, you can use it as an incentive to get them to invite friends to the service.
- Have volunteers engage those waiting in line. Get some of your most outgoing members to talk with families as they wait to take their picture. This can be an easy way to involve more members in ministry and is also a good way for members to get to know one another better.
- Consider having visitors fill out connection cards while they wait. If your volunteers meet a guest, having them fill out a guest card while they wait is an easy way for you to get information for follow up.
- Think wisely about the background and setup. It’s wise to incorporate your church website or your event hashtag into the background. That way when the photo is shared online, there is a reference point for your church. Also, when considering the design, it might be best to avoid handheld props. Those can slow things down, can break, and, with kids, can cause fights.
Has your church had or is it planning a family photo station for Easter? What would you add to this list?