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How to Take Great Photos at Camp

Ask any camper alumnus about their experience at camp: camp memories are forever. This experience makes it even more exciting when deciding to send their kids to the same camp they went to decades before. Whether you run a kids camp with first-time campers or host a corporate retreat, your campers are going to look forward to seeing the photos and reminiscing about their time at camp.

When you start taking photos at camp, you may realize that your subjects are great and the location is beautiful, but your photos aren’t all coming out as planned. Here are a few ways you can improve your camp photography. Here, we cover our top four tips for capturing camp memories!

Learn about lighting

The most important change you can make in capturing photos is paying attention to your lighting. This will prevent squinted eyes, blown-out colors, and unevenly lit subjects.

First, find the sun. If it’s directly overhead, then you’ll probably want to move your subjects into some shade, or at least get yourself and your lens into some shade. In a pinch, you can hold your hand over the top of a phone lens to help shade it from the intense sun, which will just blow out (which means it’s overexposed, with bright white areas).

If it’s not above you, you’ll want the sun behind you (the photographer). Shooting into the sun means that your subject will be shadowed. If you can’t avoid this based on the location, then you can try to turn on your flash to add more light to your subjects.

When your subjects are in the shade like under a tree, check that it’s even. Often, you’ll have one person in complete shadow while others might be more dappled or lit. For the best look, you want everyone to be even.

You may have heard of the “golden hour” before – this is the time around sunrise and sunset when the sunlight is softer and warmer. People can disagree on when this is, but just think about the time in the morning when there’s light right before the sun has risen until it’s low in the sky. In the afternoon, you’re looking for that last hour before sunset.

And finally, nighttime. When possible, avoid using the flash, which is really intense and will lose any background detail. Instead, opt for a flashlight to evenly light the subject with a softer light. Check if your phone has a night mode. You’ll want to hold the camera really still (or use a tripod) to prevent any blurring.

Capture everyone

Can you imagine going to a camp and excitedly looking through the photos later just to find…you’re nowhere to be found? Counteract this by making a plan. Here are a few ideas to make sure no campers are left behind:

  • Take tons of photos at full-camp events. This will work best if everyone is split into groups for an activity, as then you can grab photos of each group.
  • Gather each cabin for a group shot – you won’t want to do this on the first day when everyone is still getting to know each other and a little awkward!
  • Set up a check-in photo station to get every camper. You can include themed photo booth props to mix up the look.
  • Take as many group photos as you can!

Take more than you think

Watch any photography pro in action and you’ll see that they snap more photos than you’ll ever see. A wedding photographer might take 2,000 photos over the event but deliver 600. You want to take more photos than you’ll use, and then be particular about what you share.

If you’re capturing an action-packed activity, hold down the shutter button to take a number of photos in a row. Then, go through and select the best moment of those. 

You might try snapping it from different angles or compositions – like positioning the subject to the left third to make the background visible, or getting lower to the ground to shoot people in the water closer to their level. Pick what you like the best and then edit them.

Share the best photos

Of course, now that you have hundreds of amazing photos, you have to share them with the campers! Not only will they represent treasured memories, but they’re great for social media sharing. Make a hashtag for your camp group and encourage campers and parents to share photos with your hashtag and username so that everyone knows what a great camp you run. It’s the ultimate word-of-mouth for your business.
By using a camp management platform like CampSite, it’s easy to upload and share images both daily in the dashboard and in bulk on the photo and video blog. It’s easy to use and control access by integrating directly with your registration system. Request a demo to find out how CampSite can save time and make sharing photos with your campers a breeze!

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