Photography Merit Badge Helps and Documents

A person taking a photo with a cell phone and an image of the Photography merit badge emblem.

By doing the requirements for the Photography merit badge, Scouts learn to safely and effectively record their experiences in pictures. They explore the impact of lighting, exposure, depth of field, composition, angle, and other aspects of taking photos. Then Scouts put their knowledge to use by taking a number of photographs. They also find out about career opportunities related to photography.

Photography is an elective merit badge.

Help with Answers for the Photography Merit Badge Requirements

Find specific helps for some of the Photography merit badge requirements listed below. Some of these resources will just give the answers. Others will provide engaging ways for older Scouts to introduce these concepts to new Scouts.

Ask Scouter Mom a question or share your ideas with others

Photography Merit Badge Requirement 1: Cyber Chip and Safety

Requirement 1 Helps and Answers

Cyber Chip

Hazards and Safety

Cyber Chip

The Cyber Chip portion can be completed online. The requirements depend on the age level:

Hazards and Safety

  • Be aware of your surroundings. For example, don’t be so engrossed in your photo that you step onto a busy street.
  • If you are outdoors, take the usual precautions such as sunscreen, hat, water, etc.
  • Use the buddy system.
  • Tell someone where you are going.

Photography Merit Badge Requirement 2: Elements and Terms


Light is needed to take a photo. You can use natural light (from the sun) or artificial light (a lamp or a flash).

Natural light will vary according to the time of day. Morning and evening will result in softer, warmer colors and long shadows. At midday, natural light produces cooler colors and harsh shadows.

Read more about photography and lighting


Exposure is determined by the shutter speed and aperture. A slower shutter speed and larger aperture result in higher exposure.

Many cameras have a built in light meter which automatically set these for the type of exposure you want. But many professional photographers prefer to control these manually to get just the effect they want.

Learn more about exposure

Depth of Field

Depth of field is the range of what is in focus. It is the distance between the closest thing in focus and the furthest thing in focus.


Composition is how everything comes together to make a visually pleasing photo. This video explains the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Ratio, framing, point of interest, attracting attention, simplicity. Also important are patterns, lines, shapes, and more.

Composition Elements

  • Framing: Surround your subject with a nearby foreground element, such as an overhanging branch
  • Contrast: Have different colors, textures, sizes, and shapes to emphasize different elements in the photo
  • Balance: The relative size or significance of different parts of the picture
  • The Rule of Thirds: Place your subject in the left or right third of an image, and/or the upper and lower thirds, leaving the parts more open
  • Leading Lines: Include objects with straight or curved lines to lead the viewer’s attention to the subject.

Angle of View

This is the amount of scene which a lens can take in. A wide angle lens will take in more and is good for large scenes. A narrow angle lens is better for portraits.

Stop Action

When you freeze something that does not normally happen without motion, it’s like stopping time. You are able to see the subject in ways that you normally wouldn’t. Think of capturing someone jumping in mid-air.

Blur Motion

Blur motion is  the streaking or blurring of an object in motion in a photo for visual effect. It’s a great technique for capturing movement.

Read more about blur motion

Decisive Moment

The decisive moment refers to capturing an event that is spontaneous at the right time. It takes some planning and some luck. You must have the right time of day, the right composition, and the right action all lined up.

Photography Merit Badge Requirement 3: Parts and Operation of a Camera

Requirement 3 Helps and Answers

The Parts of a Camera

The Anatomy of a Camera

The Parts of a Camera

  • The body of a camera prevents light from entering parts of the camera where you don’t want it.
  • The sensor reacts to light and records information.
  • The lens allows the light entering the camera to be controlled.
  • The aperture can be opened and closed to control the amount of light let in through the lens.
  • The shutter completely blocks light. It opens and closed rapidly to allow light to hit the sensor for the desired amount of time.

Photography Merit Badge Requirement 4: Photography Compositions

Photography Merit Badge Requirement 5: Photography Types

Photography Merit Badge Requirement 6: Software Enhancements

Requirement 6 Helps and Answers

Software Suggestions

Advanced Editing with Instagram

Software Suggestions

If you are taking photos with your smartphone, use Instagram for this (with your parent’s permission). It will allow you to crop, adjust the exposure, use filters, and more. And it’s free.

Photography Merit Badge Requirement 7: Visual Storytelling

Stories and Subjects

  • A hike
  • A community event
  • A family gathering
  • A camping trip
  • A sporting event
  • A pet
  • Your neighborhood
  • Your school

Tips for This Requirement

  • Take plenty of photos. You don’t have to use them all.
  • Pick the photos which you think clearly depict the subject.
  • Have a good closing picture.

Visual Storytelling

Dr. James Brown’s website featuring composition tips and more, using many Scouting examples.

Photography Merit Badge Requirement 8: Career Opportunities

Requirement 8 Helps and Answers

Careers in Photography

Professional Organizations

Careers in Photography

  • Studio photographer
  • Photo journalist
  • Wedding and event photographer

Other Resources for the Photography Merit Badge

Spark your interest in photography with these related ideas and achievements:

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