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How to Photograph your Teen Program

By, Laura Schultze, JTFN Communications Associate

It can be a challenge to photograph your teens as they sit in boardrooms and look at requests for proposals. You may have communications’ professionals from your organization begging you for photos, and at the end of the day, all you have are photos of board members staring at pieces of paper. I'm here to help you create those dynamic photos you’ve always wanted!

Here’s a list of tips to keep in mind when you photograph your teen program:

1.      Dress for success.

When you’re planning a photography day at your teen meeting, tell your teens! Let them know that these photos could potentially made as a full wall poster hung in the building that you are meeting, and that you want them to look their best.

2.       Set the stage.

Don’t be afraid to stage your photos. Ask your teens to continue in their natural placement, but look up at you with a big smile.


Photo courtesy of the Teen Giving Project at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

3.       Get up close.

Don’t use your zoom – just move closer to whomever you are taking a photo of. You’ll be able to frame the photo better, and depending on what type of camera you are using, your image will be clearer.  

Photo courtesy of the Jewish Giving Initiative, Melbourne, Australia

4.       Where are you?

Check your surroundings before you set up your photo. Are there other people in the background? Is there a distracting poster hanging behind a teen? Save yourself the trouble, and keep the background clear.

 Photo by Climate KIC on Unsplash

 5.       Take as many photos as you can.

The more photos you take, the more photos you’ll have. You'll find that you capture genuine moments that you wouldn’t normally be able to when taking only one photo.

 6.       Show off friendships.

Break your participants into smaller groups. Having 2-4 teens in a shot gives a wider array of photos.

 Photo courtesy of the Teen Giving Project at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

7.       Turn off your flash.

Natural lighting is the best to take photos in. Using flash washes out faces and darkens backgrounds, so turn it off, and be aware of the lighting in your space.

8.       Take a photo break.

When your group takes a 5 minute break, take a moment to take a few photos and show off the enthusiasm of the group.

 Photo courtesy of Rose Youth Foundation, Denver, CO

9.       Hand the camera to a teen.

Teens today inadvertently are more technologically savvy than the ones before them, so trust that they can take an Instagram worthy photo. Step it up and have a photo contest with your teens. Give your board members 5 minutes to capture the best photo that feels like the way the program makes them feel. (But stay away from selfies… )

10.   Embody the fun.

If you’re smiling and laughing, your teens will join in. Taking photos of your program should be fun, so pick up the camera, and bring up something silly.