How to “Get the Shot”—10 Tips and Tricks for Taking Better Classroom Photos 

With social distancing guidelines in place at many schools, teachers are now being asked to capture important moments inside the classroom to share with families who are eager to see their children’s learning experiences. 

Here are some quick and easy tips to take your photography skills to the next level this year.

  1. Keep it Steady! Keep two hands on your smartphone and use the volume button to snap the photo and reduce camera shake.
     
  2. Rapid Fire. Can’t seem to get the timing right? Use burst mode to capture action photos and freeze the action, then select the best frame.
     
  3. Think Landscape. Take photos horizontally to capture a wider perspective. Horizontal photos can be cropped more easily into verticals, the opposite is not always true.
     
  4. Tap, Tap, Tap. Remember to tap your screen to focus the camera on a point of interest in the composition and create sharper images. Tapping and holding on your subject will lock the focus so you can compose the shot.
     
  5. Follow the Rule of Thirds. Divide your composition into thirds and place your main subject on any of the intersecting lines to help balance your composition. Go to phone settings > Camera > and switch Grid to On.
     
  6. Get Close. Get Coser.  "If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough.”— photojournalist Robert Capa. Capa would eventually get very close and step on a land mine while on assignment, but alas, don’t use your smartphone camera’s zoom. The idea is you want to be close to your subject. Zooming with your smartphone can reduce image quality, so instead, physically move closer or distance yourself from your subject to get the right perspective.
     
  7. No Flash, Please! You hardly ever truly need the flash. Most smartphones can practically see in the dark and using a flash just washes out the color and the image. Always try to use natural, even lighting. 
     
  8. Keep it Clean. Remember to clean your camera lens. Wipe it regularly to keep it free of smudges and dirt. 
     
  9. (Don’t) put a filter on it.  Having the original image to work with gives more flexibility when cropping, adjusting the color, etc...
     
  10. Don’t Go Into The Light. It’s best when the light is reflecting on the subject to create brighter, clearer images. Try to avoid lighting a scene from behind the subject because it can create dark shadows and muddy your images. 

Bonus Pro Tips!

The Best Camera is the One You Have. Wait, what? What did I just spend all this money on? Cameras are just tools, and while there are countless, overpriced professional cameras on the market with endless bells and whistles, it really all boils down to capturing a moment that has emotion. The best photographers can capture important moments with the simplest of cameras, but a novice wouldn’t know where to begin with a professional-grade camera system. It’s all about the operator behind the camera, not the camera.

Move Your Feet.  The job of a photographer is to connect the viewer with the subject while removing themselves from the process. Photographers are just the messenger. To help remove yourself from the process, avoid taking photos from “eye-level” and presenting them as most would see the scene. Go low, get high, change your perspective. Shoot through objects, find interesting angles. Try moving around and find creative perspectives when taking a photo and connect your viewer to the subject. Get down to the level of your students and take photos from their perspectives.

The Best Photos Have People. People are the most interesting things. Think about it….it’s true! A photo of an empty field, vs. a photo of a person in that same field….Who are they, what are they doing? Why? How? The best photos have people engaged and doing something. People drive stories and fuel our imagination. 

Use Lines in Your Composition. Get creative and use natural guiding lines in your images to draw your eyes through the frame. These can help create a natural flow throughout the frame, which is often more pleasing to the eye.

 

Want More? Check out some tips for taking better video in the classroom!