Effective Photography for Royal Rangers Leaders

Supercharge your marketing and communications through photography and media by empowering leaders at your next Royal Rangers event using these simple to follow steps and practical advice from an event tested veteran. With the rise of smartphones and wireless networks, our parents and ministry supporters can be closer than ever to the action of our events from the palm of their hands. In fact, it is very likely that most of the leaders at your next event have a smartphone capable of taking professional level photographs and video. Starting with the iPhone 4S, Apple has equipped all of their phones with a camera capable of producing high quality 8 megapixel images or a 1920×1080 pixel image. Samsung has an even better camera in their older phones, boasting a 13 megapixel camera in their Galaxy 4S model. iPhone 6 and newer are capable of 4K images and video! Samsung and others have followed suit and today the most powerful cameras in our homes are typically found on our phones. It is the strong opinion of this author that we must utilize these capabilities to their fullest by helping leaders understand the capabilities that they carry around with them and what to look for to capture top quality photos and video that can be used in social media and printed materials to publicize the events that we are hosting.

File Sharing/Photo Collection
Before you set your leaders lose with their cameras you need to establish an easy way to share all the media that is going to be captured at the event. There is no shortage of cloud based solutions if your leaders have data plans and access to reliable Internet. In the event that Internet access is limited it is always good to have a hard wired solution in place. Below are some easy to setup options that you can use to collect all the media that is produced.

  • USB Cables
    Most phones have a special shared folder that contains the media captured by the phone. In order to successfully copy files from the phone you may have to install special software. It is best to setup a laptop in advance of your event and load it with iTunes and Samsung Kies just to be safe as this should cover the 2 most common types of devices that you will encounter. You will also need to provide a Lighting and a Micro USB cable.
  • DropBox A Dropbox Basic account is free and includes 2 GB of space. You can download free apps to access Dropbox from your computer, phone, or tablet.
  • OneDrive A OneDrive basic account comes with 5GB of free storage and offers a variety of free apps that can be used to access your OneDrive from mobile devices.
  • Text Message As long as you and your leaders have the ability to send and receive multimedia text messages this is a good option. The trick to making this work is to send the photos in high enough quality that they can be repurposed after the event, and ensure that your cell phone plan allows you to do this without incurring cost. Most plans offer some level of all-inclusive texting; however, that could be different for your plan.
  • Bluetooth Transfer This requires some technical knowledge as Bluetooth connectivity can be finicky; however, if you have it and can set it up you can easily pair with phones and transfer photos and videos.
  • AirDrop (iPhone Only)
    This is restricted to iPhones, but makes the process of sending files to another iPhone user seamless.

As you collect the media from your event, make sure to have a common naming and filing scheme in place. I recommend storing photos by day at the very least. If you are running multiple camps simultaneously, it may be a good idea to also store the photos by camp for clarity when you get ready to publish them. Another thing to think about is providing credit to the photographer. To do this you may want to consider also storing by photographer. The bottom line here is to think through how you want to use the media and then build a filing scheme that will suit it.

Photo Modes
The easiest of the two functions is still photography, but as easy as it is to point and shoot, it is perhaps even more important to understand what to look for and how to frame it. There are some universal dos and don’ts that need to be understood to get the best quality shots for reuse. Before we dig too far into that let’s look at photo modes. Each phone vendor will undoubtedly have their own version of these, but for simplicity sake we’re going to look at the newer iPhone models (8+).

The iPhone 8 comes loaded with 4 photo modes that each have a specific purpose.

  • Photo Mode
    This is the best general purpose option as it can be used to capture groups, distant activities, and live action events. This mode has a zoom feature that allows the photographer to zoom in on the action; however, this feature should be used sparingly as the quality of the photo degrades the more zoomed in the camera is.
  • Portrait Mode
    This mode is best for up close photos in which you want to bring out a specific individual or item as the camera changes the field view and generate high quality photos using an array of lighting options. For most shots we want to stick with Natural Light. Portrait Mode applies an arty depth effect to your photos, putting the subject in focus and blurring the background: a sought-after effect known in photographic circles as bokeh.
  • Square Mode
    I don’t use this mode often at all. It functions much like Photo mode, but produces a square photo.
  • Pano Mode
    Great for large group and landscape photos, but requires a steady hand. The panorama mode itself offers some advice on how to take a good shot: you need to move the device continuously (don’t pause or stutter in your movement) and slowly.

If your phone supports HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos, make sure that it is enabled and lean toward using that when possible. The iPhone presents a message across the camera when HDR is active. HDR melds several exposures to create a single picture with an impressive amount of detail and a broad range of tones and colors. Try using it instead of the flash when you’re faced with tricky lighting conditions.

Photography Basics
Camera phones are amazingly convenient and we tend to carry them everywhere we go; however, there are still some basic photography challenges to content with.

  • Camera Shake
    For example, one reason you may tend to get blurry photos with your iPhone is that it’s light and thin, and hence rather awkward to hold compared to a full-size camera. You can reduce camera shake with some old-fashioned techniques that literally stop your hands from moving as much: pushing the side of your body against a vertical surface to steady it, resting your elbows on a low wall, or even simply bracing your iPhone by holding it in both hands and tucking your elbows into your body.
  • Lock Focus and Exposure If you are wanting to capture crisp photos of a face or specific object, tap on your phone display to lock the focus and exposure. This help the camera focus in on your subject, especially if there are objects in front of the field of vision between you and the target.
  • Rules of Thirds Grid
    Although shots can look great with their subject dead center, you can usually make your shots look better, more dynamic and flat-out more professional if instead you embrace the “Rule of Thirds” – and you can easily do this if you switch on the grid in Settings > Photos & Camera.
  • Background Check!
    Check your background If possible avoid unsightly backdrops such as portable bathroom units, electrical lines, and vehicles. This may require that you shoot from a specific angle to avoid these items, but the end result will be worth it. This is specifically important if you are having any type of ceremony in which you would like to capture special moments. When staging the ceremony location keep photography needs in mind, including backdrop, lighting, and space.
  • Brand Visibility
    Is the brand visible? Be on the lookout for boys and leaders with Royal Rangers uniforms or shirts participating in your event. Anytime you are able to capture the Royal Rangers emblem during an activity, you can utilize that to increase the appeal of the brand.
  • Capture the action.
    Royal Rangers is a high energy, highly relational program, and your photographs should be proof of that in action.
  • Be mindful of the moment
    Photography is great, and marketing is necessary; however, DO NOT let the desire to photograph the moment ruin an altar service or mentoring opportunity. A boys spiritual well being is more important than any photo we will capture from the event, and we need to ensure that all of our leaders are aware. Photos during service time are acceptable as long as they are not distracting from the service.

Photography is such a universal tool for sharing your vision that we should be using it to the fullest extent possible.  In order for us to do this, we need to empower our leaders and equip them to be successful in capturing moments that will resonate with our intended audiences.  Use photography to your advantage, and let the world know about the great works that you and your team are doing.

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