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.
Photography Merit Badge Resources
See the current requirement from the Photography merit badge pamphlet below.
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.
Photography Merit Badge Requirement 1: Cyber Chip and Safety
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
Requirement 2 Helps and Answers
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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 is the streaking or blurring of an object in motion in a photo for visual effect. It’s a great technique for capturing movement.
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
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
Requirement 4 Helps and Answers
Photography Merit Badge Requirement 5: Photography Types
Requirement 5 Helps and Answers
Photography Merit Badge Requirement 6: Software Enhancements
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.
Dr. James Brown’s website featuring composition tips and more, using many Scouting examples.
Photography Merit Badge Requirement 8: Career Opportunities
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:
Other Helpful Ideas and Websites
Related Scouts BSA Program Features
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