Visual Communication on a Tight Budget

Jörg Arnold by Jörg Arnold, October 2022

Images are the soul of every organisation. Whether photos or video: we use visuals to show who we are and what is important to us. They demonstrate our identity, telling the stories that inspire the public’s interest, purchase or donation in our work. Many of us know that the majority of human communication occurs not through words, but through visual cues. So why do so many communication, marketing and fundraising managers struggle to find budget for photography and video production, and why do we need to solve this?


We wonder what Jaime, a farmer in Mozambique who was taught by his father, would say about the differences between farming and communication. Both have regular seasonality, require ongoing planning and maintence and are greatly impacted by unexpected events. 

Photo: Maputo, Mozambique – Mauro Vombe / TdH / Fairpicture

What’s the core problem?

There are two sentences we’ve heard over and over again: 

"It is very time-consuming and expensive to get pictures that I can really use for my work." 

Followed by: 

"We only have a small budget for photo and video production."

Do you see how these statements contradict each other?

Our theory is that this occurs because image editing and procurement comes low on the list of priorities in the budget discussions. This means negotiations are done ad hoc throughout the year on already tight budgets and the time for these projects is often done at the expense of overtime. So how do we solve this? Image production and procurement must be included as the budget is defined. 


Planning around unexpected global events also became a regular part of life for Leticia Kwaw, Headteacher of Asuadai MA School. Supported by the Asuadai Farmers' Cooperative, Kwaw was preparing to re-open the school after a ten-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Photo: Asuadai, Ghana 2022 – Francis Kokoroko / Fairtrade Finland / Fairpicture

Managing dynamic demands in a creative office

We’re not going to tell you that you can perfectly plan your annual photo and video budget because we don't believe that to be true or possible. 

In communications, everything can change at short notice. You may need assets for a report that is being prepared for a financier, there may be a last-minute event that you need to share with your community - or you may need to scrap and project and start over due to a natural disaster. For all of these reasons, it is important to keep your budget flexible and versatile. 

Have an estimate of what is needed for daily operations: seasonal and annual campaigns, annual reports, and social media. This forms a global budget that can be divided and allocated according to individual - and unexpected - needs. 

Optimise Pre- and Post-Production Costs

Finding a creative partner that decreases your internal workflows will help you better manage your budget. Coordinating productions, brief reviews, data management and payment: these details all cost time, which effectively means money for your organisation. 

By working with a partner like Fairpicture who has clearly structured processes that exist in one digital ecosystem, the administrative work will decrease. Additionally, international travel expenses are also reduced, as you will be working with local talent. 


Photo: Santa Marta, Colombia 2022 - Lorena Velasco / Fairtrade International / Fairpicture

Ethical photo and video productions

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You can also save direct costs by having a clear partnership. Relationship-building takes time. There are nuances to each organisation and having an ongoing partner who can support your needs, even as a global organisation, can be a huge boost in efficiency. Starting in 2023, Fairpicture will offer a regular subscription model, which will reduce your daily fee. If you’re interested in learning more about this as we develop the offer, get in touch with our account management team

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Starting in 2023, Fairpicture will offer a regular subscription model, which will reduce your daily fee.

Jörg Arnold, Co-Founder Fairpicture

What is important when budgeting for photo jobs?

Always remember: good images and videos require time. Time to prepare the production, time to for the visual creator to gain the trust and proper consent of those depicted, time to edit the metadata. Even with a tight budget, investing an extra day or two will help ensure that the visual creator you work with can do their job properly and professionally. When professionals are asked to rush something, the quality of our work decreases. Budgeting for sufficient time will help everyone involved in your productions to give their best - which is important if we consider images to be one of the most important things in our communication strategies.

Selected blog posts


July 2023 - Daniel Caspari

From visual to ethical storytelling

Introduction on the core elements of visual and ethical communication on the basis of case studies Fairpicture accompanied during the last month.


January 2021 - Pia Zanetti

Fairpicture as an interest broker between photographers and clients

Pia Zanetti explains her view on the role and responsibility of Fairpicture as an interest broker between photographers, clients and the public.


December 2022 - Miša Krenčeyová

Representation is not reality – and that’s why it matters

– and that’s why it matters. Miša Krenčeyovás blog post about the starting points for striving towards fair representation.

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