As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Photography Merit Badge Helps and Documents

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

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

Safety. Do the following:

  1. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while working with photography and what you should do to anticipate, mitigate, prevent, and respond to these hazards. Explain how you would prepare for exposure to environmental situations such as weather, sun, and water.
  2. View the Personal Safety Awareness “Digital Safety” video (with your parent or guardian’s permission).

Requirement 1 Helps and Answers

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

Explain how the following elements and terms can affect the quality of a picture:

  1. Light – natural light (ambient/existing), low light (such as at night), and artificial light (such as from a flash)
  2. Exposure — aperture (f-stops), shutter speed, ISO
  3. Depth of field
  4. Composition – rule of thirds, leading lines, framing, depth
  5. Angle of view
  6. Stop action and blur motion
  7. Decisive moment (action or expression captured by the photographer)

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.

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

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.

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

Video Resources

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: 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.

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.

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

Explain the basic parts and operation of a camera. Explain how an exposure is made when you take a picture.

Requirement 3 Helps and Answers

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

Do TWO of the following, then share your work with your counselor.

  1. Photograph one subject from two different angles or perspectives.
  2. Photograph one subject from two different light sources – artificial and natural.
  3. Photograph one subject with two different depth of fields.
  4. Photograph one subject with two different compositional techniques.

Requirement 4 Helps and Answers

Photography Merit Badge Requirement 5: Photography Types

Photograph THREE of the following, then share your work with your counselor.

  • (a) Close-up of a person
  • (b) Two to three people interacting
  • (c) Action shot
  • (d) Animal shot
  • (e) Nature shot
  • (f) Picture of a person – candid, posed, or camera aware

Requirement 5 Helps and Answers

Photography Merit Badge Requirement 6: Software Enhancements

Describe how software allows you to enhance your photograph after it is taken. Select a photo you have taken, then do ONE of the following, and share what you have done with your counselor.

  • (a) Crop your photograph
  • (b) Adjust the exposure or make a color correction
  • (c) Show another way you could improve your picture for impact.

Requirement 6 Helps and Answers

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

Using images other than those created for requirements 4, 5, and 6, produce a visual story to document an event to photograph OR choose a topic that interests you to photograph. Do the following:

  • (a) Plan the images you need to photograph for your photo story.
  • (b) Share your plan with your counselor, and get your counselor’s input and approval before you proceed.
  • (c) Select eight to 12 images that best tell your story. Arrange your images in order and mount the prints on a poster board, OR create an electronic presentation. Share your visual story with your counselor.

Requirement 7 Helps and Answers

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

Identify three career opportunities in photography. Pick one and explain to your counselor how to prepare for such a career. Discuss what education and training are required, and why this profession might interest you.

Requirement 8 Helps and Answers

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:

Related Scouts BSA Program Features


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.