Create Photo Galleries to Engage Your Community and Tell Its Stories
What’s one of the best ways to show prospective residents—and even the general public—the enjoyments of living well in your community? Testimonials never hurt, but the best possible proof comes from the pictures you take at neighborhood gatherings and that your residents send you to document everything from pets to pool parties.
Anyone can add photo gallery to a homeowners association website, and even populate it with myriad images from community happenings—if your homeowners association website software provider includes this feature in the package you choose from the vendor you select. But rather than adopt the “more is more” approach, you’ll probably do a better job of projecting the realistic positive image you want to share with the world if you limit the photos you display so they epitomize the very best aspects of life in your neighborhoods.
One simple way of accomplishing that is to scroll through a batch of images and limit your choices from 10 photos taken in quick succession to one outstanding exemplar. Another is not to include an image just because you have it, but rather subject each one to the tests of how well—and even how beautifully or meaningfully—it tells a story. Sometimes more is too much or not enough.
Capture the moments
Of course, to have enough images so you can be choosy about what you share, you need to capture as much as you can as often as possible. If yours is a community that stages many events for resident participation, you may want to establish a photo committee, made up of people who enjoy taking pictures and who are happy to volunteer to capture your happenings from behind the lens.
It’s also a good idea to recommend that your photographers focus on capturing landscape-mode images – in other words, images that are wider than they are tall, taken with a cell phone held horizontally or in the natural picture-taking position with a digital SLR. That’s because many of the image display areas on online photo galleries prioritize landscape-mode photos—and may crop off somebody’s head if you feed them a portrait-mode shot.
The “Awwwww” factor
Another favorite subject matter category for community photography consists of everybody’s nominee for the category of cutest residents: everybody’s pets. Even people who don’t want a cat or a dog will ooh and ah over cute little kittens and puppies, clever parrots, and other feathered, furry, or scaly friends.
Why pets instead of children? For one thing, even if your homeowners association website software provider gives you the ability to designate your photo gallery as accessible only to residents—and even hide it from them unless they log in—depicting images of minors can raise many potential privacy issues. This is an issue that relies on individual preference to guide decision making, but many parents prefer not to make their children’s images public.
Along with pets, why not share some outstanding examples of gardening success? Beautiful plants and flowers—and gorgeous vegetables, if your community rules allow for vegetable plots—make an impressive display of community atmosphere and appeal.
Set some examples
If you routinely receive many questions about architectural standards, you may want to set up a gallery to display approved modifications, or to contrast do-and-don’t outcomes in a friendly, helpful way. Obviously, these shouldn’t identify any specific homeowner or property. The point isn’t to call out someone’s remodeling efforts; rather, you want this gallery to offer productive, helpful information to guide homeowner efforts in a production direction.
Showcase your board members
When you set up a page to list and depict your board members, along with their contact information, you probably begin by asking each member for a headshot you can add to their listing. Odds are that the images you receive may be of unequal quality, and that some will be too small to display well, even online, where lower-resolution images can look good. If your homeowners association website software provider gives you the ability to create custom forms through which you can retrieve information from your membership, you can build a form that includes instructions for good photo results, shows the type of image you’re hoping to receive, and provides an area through which board members can upload their images.
Think of the bigger picture
When HOAs select photos for their websites, they often include classic views of their communities—the entrance, the tennis courts, the pool, and so on—and neglect to show their environment itself. Why not create a gallery that includes some nearby landmarks: parks, cultural destinations, even shops set up by local artisans? This type of feature helps set your community apart at the same time that it shows how you fit into your bigger overall neighborhood.
Make your images count
Regardless of which aspects of community life you choose to depict on your homeowners association website, use photography to its fullest advantage. Choose images that tell stories, that fill in both the natural environment and the human elements that make life in your community a neighborly privilege. As you select your images, ask yourself what each one says about your HOA, and how it helps contribute to the overall story of life in your community.
To achieve the best success with your online image galleries, start with website software that makes it easy to showcase your photos, and share them as widely or as privately as you wish, either with the general public, exclusively with your members, or in a sequence of galleries that include both public and private image collections. At HOAStart, we specialize in providing the resources that homeowners associations need to build the ideal websites for their communities. We include a robust, full-featured set of image gallery capabilities within our software. To see what we offer and experience its capabilities for yourself, set up a 15-day free trial, test out our full feature set, and see why we believe that we offer the ideal roster of options for your homeowners association.