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Social Campaigns and Photography

Updated on June 12, 2014
CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Social campaigns can be done for any issues which affects our society. These campaigns can range from the modest and subtle to the more drastic and poignant and the images that accompany such campaigns can also range from the subtle to the dramatic. The goal of any social campaign is to institute a change in behavior towards a common good.

Social marketing is the systematic application of marketing, along with other concepts and techniques, to achieve specific behavioral goals for a social good.[1] Social marketing can be applied to promote merit goods, or to make a society avoid demerit goods and thus to promote society's well being as a whole. For example, this may include asking people not to smoke in public areas, asking them to use seat belts, or prompting to make them follow speed limits.wikipedia

Some can even be fun to create requiring artistic ingenuity and some talent. Take for example the anti smoking campaigns. Many photographers have taken the very source of the problem;cigarettes, and drawn faces on the butts themselves. These facial caricatures often show expressions of "sickness" or "disgust" some even having an "X" where the eyes are supposed to be usually signifying death. There are even billboards which have become works of "art" like a post in the shape of a cigarette butt with the logo or message displayed right on top.

A very dramatic example are the adds which are now standard practice in some European and Asiatic countries on which victims of cancer and images of the cancer itself are printed on the cigarette boxes. Drug use is another highly targeted issue, where many images are used to send the message, such as the various paraphernalia associated with drug use which are photographed and made part of the campaign.

Anti abortion campaigns have long used images of fetuses to bring their message to the general public and they have been getting more drastic as time goes by.

Youth issues, health issues, poverty, animal rights and the list goes on. Evey social topic can be covered in photography. The key is to capture or compose images that by and of themselves evoke a change in thinking and drive people to action. Amnesty International has been for years bringing their message about human rights to the world and they have utilized many images of the atrocities committed by regimes, governments to the world scene.

These campaigns also use the several social sites currently available to further expand their message, accompanied by images, these campaigns are very efficient in promoting change and disseminating their message.

Before undertaking this type of photography you must research the idea behind the message; what is the action or reaction that you want to accomplish or that you want to get across?

Decide what type of images you are going to use; will the images be subtle or dramatic, what or who will be the subjects, what will be the source of subjects?

However, many such campaigns use readily available materials such as the aforementioned cigarettes and drug paraphernalia. You can also make your own. A simple technique is to use an egg and empty its contents, refill with red paint and photograph it as a broken shell with the red paint dappled across it or in the adjacent surface to represent the ending of life. A fish out of water, struggling to breathe is often used in health campaigns, more specifically asthma prevention.

Regardless of which social marketing campaign you will involve yourself with, always be conscious that the images you produce can elicit strong emotions and you must consider being appropriate and sensible in the making of such images. Don't be so involved with your work that you lose perspective. Keep the targeted audience in mind. Images that are appropriate for adults may not be so for children. Your images can lead to an opposite effect if they are too dramatic or grotesque and turn out to insult sensibility rather than conquering it. Your aim is to inform not to insult.

CC BY-SA 2.0)
CC BY-SA 2.0) | Source

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      7 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Justom: I was wondering where you Yes you are right, many social campaigns tend to go overboard and their campaigns can have the opposite effect. Good observation, as always.

    • justom profile image


      7 years ago from 41042

      The problem with this stuff is it's sensationalism at it's worst. This kind of over the top stuff only serves the opposite effect and changes nothing. Remember when Nancy Reagan started the "War on Drugs" and we found out she was on them herself. Over the top bad advertising. Good hub though :-P Peace!! Tom


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