Adding photographs to an evaluation report can make it more appealing to readers and also make the key messages more memorable.
Practical and ethical issues need to be addressed. Planning ahead is important to ensure that photographs of key events, or of the situation before an intervention, are taken when needed.
If people can be identified in the photographs, their permission will be needed to take the photo and to use it, and to add their name to the caption. There are particular sensitivities around including photographs of children. If the photos are not yours, ensure you have permission from the photographer to use the photograph in the ways you are planning – including permission to use it in different media (a written report, a presentation, a website) and to edit the photograph (for example, cropping it).
In addition to, or possibly instead of, taking photographs just to illustrate the report, consider whether photographs might be a useful option for data collection, which is then analyzed and reported like any other data. This can be done in a participatory way. (see Photography/Video recording, and Photovoice in the options for Collecting/Retrieving Data)
Advice for CHOOSING this option (tips and traps)
- Consider whether it might be more appropriate to use photographs as a useful option for data collection. This can be done in a participatory way. (see Photography/Video recording in the options for Collecting/Retrieving Data)
Advice for USING this option (tips and traps)
- Plan ahead wherever possible to ensure you take the photos during implementation that will be needed. Record details of the place and date of the photograph.
- Ensure you get the required permissions to take and use the photographs
- Ensure that the photograph does not misrepresent the situation either through how it was selected, how it was set up, or even how it was framed. Be clear in captioning whether it is being portrayed as typical or illustrative.
- Link the photographs to particular evaluation questions and findings – don’t simply put in random images.
- Make sure the evaluator has a plan for addressing issues of permission, and for ensuring the photographs present a truthful picture of the program.
- Using Photos in Evaluation Reports: This blog by Sherry Boyce has a number of tips and tricks to guide the use of photographs in evaluation reports.