Interview: Neil Wissink

The senior photography officer at Water Aid talks about how great images can make a charity stand out from the crowd

Neil Wissink says Instagram is an important medium for Water Aid
Neil Wissink says Instagram is an important medium for Water Aid

What is your role?

I manage the charity's library of more than 30,000 pictures and promote our photographic assets internally and externally. I also train staff around the world in photography skills.

Why are photographs important to your charity?

We are now very much a visual culture and photographs and video have never been more important.

We regard them as an excellent way of connecting our supporters with our work. The issues that we cover can seem very far away and abstract, but a good photograph allows people to understand the abstract issues. It also helps to see people's faces and to get an actual glimpse into their lives.

Why do you use Instagram?

We have been on Instagram since 2011 and now have 25,000 followers after being featured on its Suggested User list. Instagram is great because, as an image-led platform, it has become a showcase for our photos and for the amazing photographers with whom we work.

How do you use it?

I choose the strongest images first, but always paired with a good caption. Instagram can be a refreshing alternative to channels that are more text-led, such as Twitter. We recently held our first Instagram takeover for World Water Day - we handed our feed to the photojournalist Mustafah Abdulaziz for a week to showcase images from Pakistan, which boosted our engagement on Instagram. Normally I would post one or two images a day, but he posted three to five daily.

What advice do you have for charities using Instagram?

Curate your content carefully. We are lucky to have a massive pool of great images, but it is important to use the best content that you have. Think about what sort of images will set you apart and make you unique. Building a strong identity will encourage people to go to your feed, as will using hashtags intelligently.

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