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Photographing Culture Days

Tags: Tipsheet, Year-Long Resource

Supplies, transportation, volunteers...there are lots of details to keep track of as you prepare for an arts event. While prepping for the activity itself, it’s easy to forget about documenting it. Don’t let this happen to you! Good photographs help to capture the vibrancy and creativity of the event.

Pics or It Didn’t Happen

If you don’t document it, it will still happen - but a lot less people will find out about it. Because photos are worth a thousand words, they can help you to share an experience with those who weren’t there. Quality photographs are an important tool for artists to promote themselves and their work, and they often come in handy for future portfolios, websites, flyers, and business cards.

Not comfortable with cameras, or too busy managing the activity to also be taking photos? Try to find someone beforehand who can help you out. The photographer doesn’t have to be a pro to get some great shots.

Here are five simple tips that can help:

1. Action

Photos with people in them tend to be more interesting, especially when the people involved are actively doing or making something. Photos of people in action - engaged in an activity - draw the viewer in and help to tell a story.

2. Interaction

Photos with more than one person in them tend to be more dynamic, because relationships are being created between individuals. Look for people working, talking, or even laughing together.

3. Perspective

Perspective can make all the difference. Be creative! Look for new or unusual points of view, instead of shooting everything straight on. Have fun and experiment with different angles, distances, and heights. A very ordinary subject can be transformed through interesting use of perspective.

4. Light

If you don’t have access to a tripod, it’s important to have bright lighting. Natural light is great, but if your activity takes place indoors, it may not be enough. Turn on the lights! Bright indoor lights can supplement natural light; good lighting can help you take crisp and colorful photos.

5. Permission

If there are minors at the event, it’s important to ask for permission from their parent or guardian before taking a photo. Depending on the situation, you may want to ask for permission from adults as well. Without permission you can still use a photo of a minor, but only if they are not identifiable. For instance, you could keep the child’s face out of the shot completely, or you might shoot a close-up of a child’s hands making a craft. Check out the Culture Days Tips & Tools section under "Documenting and Evaluating Your Activity" for sample photo release forms.

Submitted by Skye Louis, Coordinator of Neighbourhood Arts Network.