The Top 10 Quick and Easy Photography Tips in Senior Living for Beginners

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The Top 10 Quick and Easy Photography Tips in Senior Living for Beginners

Good example of a gridline photo

A picture is worth a thousand words. Wait, let’s revise that a bit … A good picture is worth a thousand words. 

As a senior living professional, a good photo can showcase your community’s true spirit. Photos are great to show online, in your print collateral and on your advertisements. Knowing some photography tips in the senior living industry can go a long way to make your community stand out!

Think about the visitors to your community, whether it is by themselves, as a couple or with their family. It’s the laughter, smiles, and conversation amongst residents and associates alike that show the active, invigorating lifestyle at your community.

Even to someone who is not a part of your community (yet!), you can evoke a sense of family and camaraderie.

As it shows in person, so it should be with your online presence and marketing materials.

Put your community’s best foot forward when it comes to your photography. You’ll be surprised to find out just how easy it is to snap a good photo!

Let’s go over a few simple but effective photography tips to get your photos going from grainy to amazing.

1. Designate a Photo Ambassador

Choosing a Photo Ambassador for your community can make the photo-taking experience easier. It provides a better-streamlined process when it comes to taking photos. 

First, think about someone at the community who enjoys taking photos. Maybe it’s someone who has prior experience or has a passion for photography.

Secondly, think about the setting of a great photo. The Photo Ambassador should be out and about all the time with the residents. Maybe it is yourself or another associate. What about the Lifestyle Director who sees the smiles on their residents’ faces when playing games or socializing with others? Maybe it’s the Concierge who assists your residents every day or a Culinary team member. 

Whoever it may be, choosing someone who is both passionate about your community and about taking a good photo can go a long way.

2.   The Golden Ratio Explained

Did you know devices like smartphones and tablets have grid line settings when they’re on camera mode? Grid lines help line up your subject appropriately with a technique called the golden ratio. 

So, what exactly is the golden ratio? In short, it’s about making a photo aesthetically and naturally pleasing to look at.

Let’s go into more details about the golden ratio.

Your phone or tablet likely has a 4:3 standard aspect ratio, which is a widely used setting in photography and videography. The ratio establishes the proportional relationship between the width and height of your camera frame.

When you have your gridlines in view, they are proportionate to the golden ratio, which breaks up into a Fibonacci sequence. Hang on, I know we’re getting technical, but stay with us!

The Fibonacci sequence breaks down each square into smaller squares on your screen to capture a great photo.

Think about the rule of thirds here. When you see the gridlines in camera mode, there are two horizontal lines intersecting with two vertical lines. Nine rectangles subsequently appear from these intersections. You’ll want to line the subject or objects near or on the intersections of these lines.

Seeing a photo matched up in this way is naturally aesthetically pleasing to the human eye. By lining up your subject with the grid lines on your device’s screen, you can make your shot look fantastic.

Example: Meet Sue, our lovely volunteer! The left photo has the subject lined up with a smartphone’s grid lines. Although both photos look great, there is something more naturally pleasing to the eye when viewing the photo on the left.

3.     The Perfect Candid Photo

Candid photos are priceless when it comes to showing the positive atmosphere of your community. It may go without saying, but people are naturally going to gravitate toward a resident smiling or laughing versus someone who doesn’t look like they’re having a great time. 

But even if you do catch a subject smiling, it may be ill-timed with an eye squint or blurry movement. A good candid photo is all about timing as well. 

Take the time to watch how your residents interact, whether they’re sitting around at a table or playing a game together. You’ll notice how they interact with each other: who is smiling or laughing more? Who is everyone listening to when they speak? As you figure out the patterns among the residents, you’ll know just who and what to capture at the right moment. 

Consider how you can help make the photo truly special, too.

Think about someone trying to take your picture. It can feel aggravating if someone is constantly asking you to smile for a picture. It can even make the subject’s smile look forced!

But what about asking them questions that make their faces light up, a question that provides an incomparable glow on their cheeks and that shine in their eyes? For some, maybe it’s just talking about George Clooney (especially among the female residents!) Maybe it’s asking them about their families, their greatest achievements or their favorite hobbies.

Everyone has that glow. Find it and capture it to show how your residents truly shine.

Take a look at our examples below with Sue and John. 

Example: Which photo would you rather be a part of? On the left, it looks like John is telling a great story and Sue is engaged! This photo was captured at the right moment with no displeasing or awkward-looking expressions.

4.     Sending Photos

Sending photos the appropriate way, whether it’s to your marketing agency or social media manager for online use, is crucial. There are several ways to send photos, but let’s go over a couple of easy ones.


Let’s say one associate takes a photo. It has great quality and resolution.

When the associate embeds the photo into the email, the resolution becomes distorted as it is sent to the next person. Then that person forwards the email chain with the photo embedded. Next thing you know, you can’t even tell what’s in the photo anymore! 

Here’s how to send a photo without compromising its resolution.

On the left, the image is being sent as an attachment rather than being embedded into the email message.

When you take the photo on your device, tablet, etc., make sure it is sent as an attachment in your email. Sending the file as an attachment will maintain its high resolution.

 Online Photo Submission Forms

It can be a pain to send photos. File-sharing services could make you go through a long process with many steps or your email server will not allow you to send high-res photos. Your marketing agency should rise to the challenge by presenting a clear and easy way for you to send photos with little to no hassle.

At Craft & Communicate, we provide your own online photo submission form through a customized link. It’s easy, it doesn’t compromise quality, and it provides adequate space to easily upload high-res photos.

Learn more about how we make our clients’ lives easier. Feel free to reach out!

5.     Consider the Background

Think of everything involved in your photo, even beyond the subjects. A great photo of a person can turn worse immediately without considering the background. When thinking about the background of photos, simplicity and consistency are key things to think about. 

For example, taking a picture of someone against a solid color is better than a wall that’s heavily patterned and complex. These types of backgrounds can be distracting for the viewer and could potentially take away focus from your subject.

It’s also a good idea to look around for displeasing objects before taking your photo. If there is a garbage can in your shot, for example, moving a few paces to the left so the can is out of sight and then snapping the photo can make all the difference. Don’t make your photo trashy!

Examples: Our attractive subjects and the clear sky make for a wonderful photo … until you see the dumpster in the background. Moving a few paces away to take displeasing objects out of the frame can do wonders for your photo. In the other photo, the background is simplistic and easy on the eye.

6.     Angle Appropriately

Angling your shot is crucial, but how you do it can depend on what kind of photo you are wanting to capture.

Keep these orientation tips in mind when you’re angling your shots:

Vertical on occasion works best when you are taking pictures of a person and they are the sole focus.

Horizontal is the best option most of the time, especially when you want to capture the surroundings of the person as well. For example, a resident gardening outside or eating in the full-service dining room is best taken at a horizontal angle so you can capture the fantastic atmosphere, too.

7.     Lighting and Focus

Think of the areas in your community that exude the best lighting. When taking photos at your community, it’s best to have the subject well-lit. Windows are natural diffusers of light and automatically make the photo ten times better.

Examples: Our subjects on the left pose with beautiful natural light. On the right the light behind our subjects creates a silhouette effect, hiding them from view.

8.     The Eye Line

Which photo below makes you feel like you’re sitting with the subjects?

Make sure you’re at eye level with your subject, whether they are sitting or standing. There’s something about a photo that makes you feel like you’re in the shot versus feeling like an outsider looking in.

Think about the happy hours or get-togethers at your community. Would your visitors feel more included seeing photos at eye level with your residents gathered around the table, or from a shot that’s way above their heads? Snapping a shot that isn’t at eye level with your subject(s) can take away from the genuine emotion of your photo. 

9.     Pinch-Zooming: Don’t

On your smartphone or tablet, pinch-zooming on the screen may seem tempting. However, because your phone is using its zooming lens, it distorts the quality of your photo. Instead of using the pinch zoom feature, try to take a few steps closer to your subject. 

Examples: Let’s bring back our lovely subjects when they were standing against the white wall. Notice the automatic blurriness of the photo on the right, an example of pinch-zooming from a phone or tablet.

10.  Emotion is Key

Here’s the biggest tip to keep in mind.

Think about the story you want to tell. 

Your community is invigorating, enlightening and charming. You know it, your fellow associates know it and your residents definitely know it too. Show that energy to your leads, guests, and viewers through the lens of a fantastic but simplistic photo. 

Picture of couple telling a story

By using these key tips, you will be dishing out clear and emotional shots that truly show the identity of your senior living community in no time.

How Can We Help?

Craft & Communicate is a marketing agency dedicated to senior living. We work to elevate your brand through real stories with real people and real emotion. Contact us to see the difference.