For Eat Your Radio, we’ve found that a combination of photos taken by experienced adult photographers and and by students works great. With training, students can become experienced photographers. Often, they’re photo editors quickly, and once they get the hang of computer-based photo editing software. And what they learn by editing photos helps them take better pictures.
Choose a sturdy camera. When you partner with EatYourRadio on a project, we can loan students a small number of simple, durable, and easy-to-use digital cameras. Or you can provide your own. Students do drop cameras occasionally, so durable is a big key to any camera that students will get to use. Real cameras have the advantage of having Zoom, which is good for getting closer shots of faces. They also have higher quality photos as well. But you can also use photos from Iphones, Droids and other smart phones.
Teach photographers basic photo-taking tricks. The most common mistakes that beginning photographers make are to take a photo from too far away, to be wiggling the camera when the shot is taken, or to take a photo against a bright background, which makes people look too dark. Here are some tips for getting better photos. You can delete photos quickly on a computer, so to increase the chance for a few great photos from students students, we suggest making giving a student a checklist like this:
FOR YOUR PHOTO SHOOT – GET . . .
- 10 Faces – with a little room above the head and below the chin.
- 10 Feet, hands doing something
- 10 Things, close up
- 10 Action
- 10 You Pick
- Focus on faces and eyes. People love to look at faces, with eyes in sharp focus. Get shots where the person is at YOUR eye level, with the top of their head and the bottom of their chin showing, and talk with them so they relax and give you a real smile or look instead of a posey one. Get several shots this way of each person.
- Get special detail shots. People love looking at hands doing something, and feet, and shots of food, and other details that give more information about what a person’s doing.
- Get action shots. Find some way to convey the action of a scene. Do these from a distance and also close in.
- Choose good backgrounds. Choose a background that’s not too bright, so avoid shooting a photo of someone in front of a window or with the background of the sky. Look for details in the background that help tell the story. Bookshelves in a library, to show a library, or students in the background at lunch tables, for a student eating lunch. Avoid details that distract, such as a bright light to the left of a person’s face, or a telephone pole sticking out of a person’s head.
Photo Editing Software: Students often love to edit photos, and it’s neat how often they make excellent decisions about how to crop a photo and how to adjust the brightness and color balance. Many cameras take photos that wash out faces, and with modern photo editing software (such as iphoto), students can add the golden tones back in. Modern editing software often lets photo editors use wild and crazy ways to change colors and add splash. Encourage students to avoid those options for now, and just make the photo look realistic. If students want to use the crazy options anyway, ask them how they’ll fit them with a story to make the story better. They might surprise you with what they figure out.