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How to photograph Disabled people getting active

This guide produced with Centre for Ageing Better offers simple tips for anyone looking to photograph Disabled people getting active.

Created with Centre for Ageing Better

As our other guide explained, images and pictures are so important. We can all agree that these days, photos and film are essential for sharing the good work we do. However, there’s more to taking good photos than lighting.

This guide will give you a simplified overview of what you need to know to produce fantastic photos of your users.

An older white man is pictured smiling during a walk across a grassy park. They are wearing a large brown walking jacket.
A participant of a walking group with Bowlee Community Association

Getting consent

It is important to remember that photos and videos are personal data and, consequently, subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). At its core, these regulations are all about transparency, responsibility and consent.

We recommend that gathering consent happens before you take any photos. You can create consent forms which set out not just why you are taking pictures and how you will use them but also explain the storage and use of material, with a reasonable expiry date. (Do remember that consent forms are personal information, meaning GDPR also applies to consent forms.) You can learn more about these forms on the Charity Comms website.

Consent should be fully informed, specific to the use, freely given by those you photograph and unambiguous. The form is not enough. Anyone who has their photo taken must understand what they’re signing up for. It’s important to talk it through and provide clear information on how data is kept and used in plain, easy-to-understand language. Illustrations and examples can be very helpful as well to give more context.

If you are commissioning a photographer rather than taking the photos yourselves, we recommend you, as the organisation, create your own consent forms and ensure that your photographer shares them with anyone who is photographed. As the commissioning organisation, you should make sure that you keep the forms once they are signed.

If you are taking your own pictures, you can learn more about the basics of photography on the Charity Communications website.

Taking honest images

Now that you’ve successfully gathered consent, you or the photographer you commission can set about taking photos of your users. We know through our extensive work with Disabled people, that too many photos taken of us rely on outdated, or lazy stereotypes.

As explained in our previous guide, taking new photos is a chance for your organisation to address this barrier.

As part of our own Picture Yourself Active campaign we worked with our Get Yourself Active Sounding Board Group, which consists of Disabled people with lived experience to create a list of Dos and Don’ts for photographing Disabled people getting active.


  • Capture images of Disabled people getting active independently.
  • Take photographs of the range of scenarios around getting active. For instance, not only the activity itself but meeting and socialising as a group before the activity takes place.
  • Use realistic portrayals. Not everyone is a Paralympian.
  • Photograph a diverse range of people to ensure an accurate representation of the population – this includes showing a range of impairments, genders, ethnicities, ages etc.
  • Think about the context and what your photo is being used to portray.
  • Work with participants to make everyone feel as happy and comfortable as possible.


  • Avoid capturing images that rely on and reinforce negative stereotypes. Not only are these offensive but they indicate that we should see older Disabled people as the object of our pity. Examples of this could be “the hand on the shoulder image”, or a wheelchair user being pushed around by a support worker.
  • Don’t portray Disabled people getting active in dishonest ways – if someone requires assistance, then capture that moment. If someone can perform their chosen activity independently, then be true to that.
  • Avoid being condescending – Everyone deserves to get active in ways that suit them. So anything required to support that is good and should be celebrated.

We created this guide as part of our Picture Yourself Active campaign. Together with the Centre for Ageing Better, we have taken big steps to provide more accurate resources for everyone. We published over 300 photos of older Disabled people getting active.

In making them free and publicly available, we hope everyone takes the time to pause and reflect on their choice of images depicting older Disabled people.

You can learn more about Picture Yourself Active on our projects page.

Next Steps

We want to work with you!

We want to help organisations reduce the negative impacts of Covid-19 and address any widening inequalities in participation rates in sport and physical activity.

Learn more in our Together Fund hub

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