Fovea Creative

Visual Storytelling: Showcase your Impact


Ian is the founder of Fovea Creative, a creative agency previously known as Cuthbert Design

Since 1996, Ian has been supporting the social enterpise sector with stimulating graphic design and increasingly through his passion for the medium of photography. Social enterprises often struggle with ‘telling their story’ as we’ve seen from our previous guest blogs. Visual storytelling is an increasingly important element of the communications process with new approaches such as Photovoice capturing the transformational changes in communities in a way that balances with written word and/or quantative data. 

We are delighted to share Ian’s Blog… enjoy this particular perspective on social enterprise storytelling!

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Photographs have always been a highly compelling way to communicate the impact of our work. But digital communications have transformed how we create and view photographs, and the volume of images we’re exposed to. 

Birmingham Impact Football Club

A training session with Birmingham Impact Football Club CIC, from a series for iSE CIC documenting social enterprises in Birmingham.

Phone cameras have democratised photography – everyone can now document their corner of the world photographically. But, in a world where photos have become so ubiquitous, how can we use them to convey the impact of our work in ways that cut through the digital noise?

Picking up on ‘social economy marketing and profile’, one of the key building blocks identified in West Midlands Combined Authority’s framework document ‘Growing the Social Economy in the WMCA area’, here are a few ideas about how to unleash the power of visual storytelling in your marketing work.

Focus on the story

Pictures that quickly tell a story, through either a single image or a series, will grab attention and prompt the viewer to ask questions. The story can be contained entirely in the photo, or include a short caption to expand on what the image tells us.

From a series for Acacia Family Support, documenting how they continued their support for women and families affected by perinatal anxiety and depression throughout the pandemic.

Make the story human

People are drawn to stories about other people. Nothing conveys the impact of an organisation’s work more than the people involved: those who benefit, the workers, the volunteers, the public.

The Active Wellbeing Society

Volunteers with The Active Wellbeing Society prepare hot meals to send out to vulnerable people during the first 2019 lock down – from a personal project documenting community responses to the pandemic.

Saheli Hub

A fitness session at Calthorpe Park, from a series for Saheli Hub, documenting their work supporting women to help improve physical and mental health.

Show the content

Use photos that show some context. This can be other people, spaces and ‘props’ that tell the viewer more about what’s happening. Portraits are sometimes more powerful when you show some context to tell the viewer more about the person.


Portrait of a resident in a supported living project run by Maninplace, from a series for Homeless Link, documenting the work of their member organisations.


An adventure activities day for young people, with 1625 Independent People, from a series for Clinks documenting the work of their member organisations who work in and around the criminal justice system.

Wait for the moments

Posing a photo can be a fun and impactful way to tell a story. But sometimes it’s great to just be around people, wait for stories to unfold then capture spontaneous moments.

Take a documentary approach

It’s natural to start thinking about photos when we need one for a particular purpose. But it’s great practice to make photography a habit and document stories regularly, even if there is no immediate intention to share them. This way we can build up a stock of original images to tell these stories when the need arises or to create a long-term archive.

Think about agency and representation

Much photography is done to people, rather than with or by them. Give some thought to how the people in your photos can have agency, controlling how they are represented and becoming co-producers.

How can ‘subjects’ become ‘creators’?

Ian Cuthbert


Ian Cuthbert

Founder, Fovea Creative

Connect with Ian via LinkedIn

Ian Cuthbert has specialised in creative support for charities, social enterprises and other values-based organisations for over 25 years. All photos © Ian Cuthbert
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