Good photos for public communication about vaccination

I wrote a short article about what photos should – and shouldn't – be used in public communication (e.g., online news stories or academic presentations) about vaccination. I've included more than 100 examples of good photos that are open and free to use.

I originally wrote this article in Serbian. Here's the English translation. If you reprint this article in full or in part, include the link to the source article and state the author of the article (Aleksandra Lazic).

A good photo. Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Which photos are bad?

Even when a photo isn't chosen with the intent to deter people from vaccination, it can negatively affect the audience. To attract readers' attention, the editors of news media often choose photos based on how sensational or artistic they look. And in doing so, they usually don't pay attention to how these photos can affect readers' vaccination decisions.

In October 2020, the city of Novi Sad (Serbia) started offering free, voluntary HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccinations to girls. "Portal 021" published a story about this including a photo of a child's bare upper arm next to an adult's hand holding a syringe with a visible needle. This isn't a good photo for at least two reasons. First – a detailed image of a needle can cause fear. Even though, in general, the fear of needles decreases with increasing age, some adults avoid vaccination (e.g., against the flu) because of this fear. Secondly – the photo is clearly staged and it doesn't even attempt to imitate the real conditions of vaccine administration. It doesn't show faces and it doesn't say anything about the relationship between the depicted individuals. These characteristics don't necessarily make a bad photo. However, such a photo doesn't provoke a positive emotional reaction and it doesn't add meaning to the information; as such, it doesn't help the reader identify with the story and it doesn't help them engage with the decision-making process.

Apart from needles that can cause fear, photos of screaming or crying children can also trigger a strong negative emotional reaction. For example, this news story from "Nova.rs", about vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic, contains such a photo. Although it's normal for children to get cranky when visiting the hospital, emphasizing this experience might negatively affect the audience. Materials that appeal to emotions can cloud our understanding of objective, scientific facts and can lead us to conclude that the risk of vaccination is higher than we would have concluded in the absence of such materials.

An inaccurate photo is also a bad photo. Bad photos, for example, depict an incorrect vaccination site or depict vaccine accessories or supplies (e.g., syringe, needle, vaccine vials) with incorrect features (e.g., an overly large needle).

In short, a bad photo for public communication about vaccination has at least one of these features (adapted from: Wu et al. (2018). PLoS ONE 13(6): e0199870):

  • Visibly distressed child/adult and/or person (e.g., a parent) accompanying them (crying, screaming, wincing)
  • Needle taking up 50% or more of the photo
  • Needle is the focal point of the photo
  • Multiple needles in one photo
Neutral photos should also be avoided. They have at least one of these features (adapted from: Wu et al. (2018). PLoS ONE 13(6): e0199870):
  • Vaccine administered with no faces depicted
  • Only vaccine accessories and supplies are depicted
A good photo. Author/Source: World Bank Photo Collection. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.

Which photos are good?

A good photo shouldn't have any negative or neutral features (see the list above). The photo should portray positive states such as happiness or calmness. The relationships of the persons in the photo should also be depicted (e.g., the health-care worker and the person who is receiving the vaccine are having a calm conversation; the parent is smiling at the child while the vaccine is being administered). A good photo is also an accurate one – it depicts the correct vaccination site and it depicts vaccine accessories or supplies with correct features.

If used moderately and cautiously, telling stories about real people and their experiences can be a good tool for communicating about science and health to the public. Presenting images alongside text can make these stories more persuasive and realistic. Furthermore, a photo can itself tell a storyThis means that the photo shouldn't stop at depicting the faces of those who administer the vaccine and those who receive it. The persons in the photo should share relevant characteristics with the target audience and belong to its socio-cultural community. In other words, the photo should enable the reader to easily identify with the depicted persons based on shared characteristics such as age, sex, gender, ethnicity, profession, occupation, living conditions, religious affiliation, social customs... 

A photo will be even better at telling stories if it places the persons in a wider context. For example, the photo can illustrate the fact that vaccine administration takes place in various settings: hospitals, schools, workplaces, mobile vaccination clinics, people's homes, asylum and reception centers... The photo can also depict persons accompanying patients receiving the vaccine, such as parents, siblings, spouses, partners, friends... Apart from the act of the injection itself, the photo can also depict what happens before (e.g., pre-vaccination medical screening or a conversation with the nurse) and after it (e.g., applying the bandage or gauze to the vaccination site).

In short, a good photo for public communication about vaccination has at least one of these features (adapted from: Wu et al. (2018). PLoS ONE 13(6): e0199870):

  • Visibly happy/calm child/adult and person (e.g., a parent) accompanying them
  • Depiction of a dialogue with the health provider
Additionally, I believe that, whenever possible, a good photo should be adapted to the culture of the target audience and that it should depict persons the audience finds easy to identify with.

Examples of good photos

Below I have provided more than 100 examples of photos that should be used in public communication (e.g., online news stories or academic presentations) about vaccination. 

The source and/or the author as well as terms of use are displayed below each photo. All photos are free of cost and free to use either only for non-commercial or for both commercial and non-commercial purposes; sometimes, there are other additional terms of use. Please use the photos according to their license terms. Using the links below the photo, you can download the photo, learn more about the context in which it was taken, and learn more about the specific terms of use. 

I identified the photos by searching the CDC Public Health Image LibraryCC Search, Flickr, Unsplash, Pixnio, Freepik, Wikimedia Commons, and Google Images (with the Creative Commons filter), on October 9 and 10, 2020.


Author/Source: Sanofi Pasteur. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.


Author/Source: UNMEER. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.

Author/Source: James Gathany, Judy Schmidt, USCDCP. Via Pixnio. Terms of Use: Public Domain (CC0).

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: Gabe Bienczycki, USAIDVia Pixnio. Terms of Use: Public Domain (CC0).
Author/Source: SELF Magazine. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: Army Medicine. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.

Author/Source: SELF Magazine. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.


Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.

Author/Source: Sanofi Pasteur. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.
 
 
 Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.
 

Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.



Author/Source: James Gathany, Judy Schmidt, USCDCPVia Pixnio. Terms of Use: Public Domain (CC0).

Author/Source: SELF Magazine. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: DFID - UK Department for International Development. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: James Gathany, Judy Schmidt, USCDCPVia Pixnio. Terms of Use: Public Domain (CC0).

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.


Author/Source: James Gathany, Judy Schmidt, USCDCPVia Pixnio. Terms of Use: Public Domain (CC0).

Author/Source: Sanofi Pasteur. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: James Gathany, Judy Schmidt, USCDCPVia Pixnio. Terms of Use: Public Domain (CC0).


Autori/Izvor: CDC Global. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.

Author/Source: pressfotoVia Freepik. Terms of Use: Freepik License.

Author/Source: SELF Magazine. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.


Author/Source: CDC GlobalTerms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

Author/Source: James Gathany, Judy Schmidt, USCDCPVia Pixnio. Terms of Use: Public Domain (CC0).

Autori/Izvor: CDC Global. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.


Author/Source: SELF Magazine. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: pressfotoVia Freepik. Terms of Use: Freepik License.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.


Author/Source: peoplecreationsVia Freepik. Terms of Use: Freepik License.


Author/Source: Sanofi Pasteur. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.




Author/Source: Sanofi Pasteur. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.


Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.


Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDC. Via IAC Image LibraryTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.


Author/Source: CDC. Via IAC Image LibraryTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.

Author/Source: SELF Magazine. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.


Author/Source: James Gathany, Judy Schmidt, USCDCPVia Pixnio. Terms of Use: Public Domain (CC0).

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: SELF Magazine. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: James Gathany, Judy Schmidt, USCDCP. Via Pixnio. Terms of Use: Public Domain (CC0).

Author/Source: UNAMID. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Government of India. Terms of Use: Government Open Data License - India (GODL).




Author/Source: Freepik. Terms of Use: Freepik License.

Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.

Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.

Author/Source: Sanofi Pasteur. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.


Author/Source: James Gathany, Judy Schmidt, USCDCPVia Pixnio. Terms of Use: Public Domain (CC0).

Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.

Author/Source: Freepik. Terms of Use: Freepik License.

Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: Sanofi Pasteur. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDC. Terms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: SELF Magazine. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: James Gathany, Judy Schmidt, USCDCPVia Pixnio. Terms of Use: Public Domain (CC0).

Author/Source: SELF Magazine. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: Sanofi Pasteur. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: Sanofi Pasteur. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.

Author/Source: U.S. Army Garrison Casey. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: NIH Image Gallery. Terms of Use: Public Domain Mark 1.0.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDC. Via Unsplash. Terms of Use: Unsplash licence.

Author/Source: Sanofi Pasteur. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.


Author/Source: SELF Magazine. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Author/Source: CDC. Via IAC Image LibraryTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

Author/Source: SELF Magazine. Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.


Author/Source: CDC. Via IAC Image LibraryTerms of Use: Public Domain.


Author/Source: CDCTerms of Use: Public Domain.

 





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Dobre fotografije za javnu komunikaciju o vakcinaciji

Notes on frames and framing effects: A short glossary with examples