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IYCF Image Bank: Better Visuals for Your Social and Behavior Change Programming

By Guest Writer on June 27, 2018

IYCF Image Bak

We’ve probably all been guilty of not putting our best foot forward, especially when it comes to developing images for our social and behavior change (SBC) programs.

  • Maybe you left out images in your tablet-based counseling cards because it was too difficult to find any decent staff shots or stock imagery that fit your budget?
  • Perhaps the father in the few good photographs you do have happens to be holding a bottle with formula for your breastfeeding campaign, but you don’t have others to replace them with?
  • Or was there a time your multi-country project opted for stick figure drawings… because who has the time to make five different sets tailored to each appropriate audience?

But now there are a lot fewer excuses for launching a SBC initiative with low-quality images. That’s because SPRING, USAID’s multi-sectoral nutrition project, has teamed up with UNICEF to create the Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Image Bank.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (or Hours… or Dollars)

Images communicate behavior concepts more efficiently than audio or text alone. They invite viewers to imagine themselves as the subject in the pictures; when individuals identify with what they see in the images, they are more likely to adopt improved practices. And for the populations in the countries where we work, literacy rates and access to media are often low, making high-quality illustrations that much more impactful.

So, we all know that’s true, but we’re still left with the questions:

  • How does one get high-quality images?
  • How can they be adapted/edited for a local context?
  • How can they be created without breaking our timeline and budget?

Finding, Adapting, and Developing High Quality Images

The IYCF Image Bank – a joint collaboration between UNICEF and SPRING, can help to answer both questions. The Image Bank is an online repository for the many different images from different countries developed for UNICEF’s Community-based Infant and Young Child Feeding Counselling Package, implemented in over 60 countries.

The Image Bank’s 700 images focus on behaviors related to infant and child feeding, but you’ll find that many of the images can be downloaded and adapted for several health topics beyond nutrition and feeding. Most of the illustrations in the Image Bank are layered images, meaning that different objects in each image were drawn separately and can be altered or removed without having to recreate the entire image.

These images can be easily edited with commercial or open-source image editing software. By starting with images from the bank, you can get a jump start on your image development, and focus your time and energy on fixing details of the image to fit your program.

For images beyond what is found in the Image Bank, SPRING has developed a Photo-to-Illustration Guide, which gives managers step-by-step instructions for producing high-quality illustrations based on photographs. Have only 15 minutes? The Photo-to-Illustration Video Tutorial takes you through the entire process from reference photo to detailed final illustration.

Photo to drawing process

Find, Learn, Download, Adapt, Contribute

The IYCF Image Bank acts like a stock photography website. Explore to browse images or try some basic keyword searches. Each illustration links to its own page where you can download either the layered image or various sizes of .jpgs if you do not require edits or want a file that is web-ready. Each image page has a recommended citation to properly credit the organization responsible for creating the image (additional instructions can be found on the How to Credit page).

Between the illustrations on the Image Bank and the techniques you learn in the Photo-to-Illustration Guide and Video Tutorial, the possibilities for print and web illustrations are endless. If you are seeking fully-developed resources or just want to see how images might work together, you can head to the Collections page and view 17 different collections that UNICEF has developed for community-based Infant and Young Child Feeding.

How We Built the IYCF Image Bank

The goal in creating the Image Bank was to stretch limited international development funding by making high-quality illustrations widely available in editable formats to organizations creating print and digital materials aimed at promoting healthy behaviors.

With that in mind, we tried for focus on only the most necessary features and make decisions based on cost and sustainability. We selected Drupal as our content management system because it is feature-rich, open source, and widely used among government and non-profit organizations.

We also decided to host the image files on Amazon Web Services’ S3 File System; some of the layered files were as large as 290 MB (even after optimization), and using S3 from the beginning ensured we could add additional images in the future without needing to worry about space on our server.

We used a Docker container for the site code, so having the images in an S3 bucket added an extra degree of confidence that our images would persist for as long as people want to use them.

Because many of the Image Bank’s users live in low-bandwidth settings, we also wanted to provide an alternative to downloading the large, layered image files. We built a feature that allows users to download smaller, unlayered images at various sizes, some small enough to work well for mobile applications; and these images are all generated automatically by the website.

Join Us

We have big plans for growing and expanding the Image Bank, but we need your help to do it. We’re pretty sure you’re going to WANT to help once you see what the Image Bank and the Photo-to-Illustration techniques can do for your program. SPRING and UNICEF invite you to:

  • FIND – Take a stroll around the bank and see what it can offer your programs.
  • LEARN – The resources found with the Image Bank contain everything you need to know about the ins and outs of the Photo-To-Illustration process.
  • DOWNLOAD – Take as many images as you want, in whatever sizes work best for you.
  • ADAPT – See how easy the images are to adapt to strengthen your not-for-profit communication materials; just be sure to credit appropriately.
  • CONTRIBUTE – Nothing will improve the Image Bank faster than adding your contributions. As you develop, adapt, and use images for your programs, contact us about putting your illustrations into the bank for others to build upon!

For more information, visit the Infant and Young Child Image Bank.

By Andrew Cunningham, SBCC Project Officer, JSI and Daniel Cothran, Digital Strategist, JSI

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