Taking Great Photos for your Chapter

Take Great Photos

Every week, YAL puts together reports, newsletters, new activism events, marketing material, and so much more. But since we can’t be everywhere at all times, we need YAL chapters and members to help us generate great material so we can show off to other students, donors, and organizations. We want to prove that our chapters are not just spreading the message of liberty, but doing it artfully and passionately. 

So we’re asking all of our chapters nationwide to provide us with the best original photographic material you can get your hands on. Not only will this help YAL National out, but it’ll help make your chapter look so much more legit! You can use these photos to promote your chapter on campus and on Facebook, send them to your local school newspaper, and (if you send them to us) you may even be featured on YAL National’s website, newsletters, or print media. 

So here’s our call to action: Take as many amazing photos of your YAL Chapter as you can.  And here are a few tips on taking great photos this quarter: 

1. Let your artsy friends take photos with their super awesome camera

…and give them free license to be as artistic as they want!  Ask students in your chapter if they do photography as a hobby, or if they know anyone that does. Universities are filled with students who love photography — just make sure they get credit for their work. And those point-and-shoot cameras or iPhone cameras rarely do the trick. Use a nice camera with good aperture and time priority settings. Some universities let you even rent out these kinds of cameras just for the day. You’re looking for something like this:


2. Don’t be afraid to stage your photos

In fashion photography, or even in the Obama campaign, photos look great because they are staged and planned. It’s really difficult to get good live-action photos. You’ll end up taking thousands of photos to get just a couple good ones. Instead, stage your photos! Be ready to take photos, get in the action, and set up shop. If you don’t, your photos will be boring! This photo, for instance, did not happen by chance:


3. Capture Faces & Emotion

Don’t take photos of the back of someone’s head. Capture everyone’s face. People like to look at faces, especially in photos. Including their hands, like someone passing along a flyer, shaking hands, or waving further helps capture activity. Also be sure to zoom in — we don’t need to see the whole room; we need to see the people:

Ed King


4. Take ultra-wide photos

People view the world in landscape. Also, most websites and print material orient their pages and photos horizontally. So take almost all your photos this way — rarely will you ever need to take photos in portrait mode (taller than they are wide). If your photos are in a landscape format (wider than it is tall), YAL National is much more likely to use your photo for an activism event, or feature you on the website. Also, leaving space to the far left or right, as opposed to your objects being in the center, helps create a dynamic photos and makes graphic design easier because text can be placed in the empty space.

Ultra-wide photos

5. Keep the original, super large photos and upload them to Flickr

In addition to posting your best photos in blog articles on the YAL website, create your own chapter photography hub at www.flickr.com. That way, you can store all your chapter photos for free in one place. Let YAL National know about your photo hub by emailing the URL link to contact@yaliberty.org so we can use the photos for future material. Keep the photos in as large format as possible. Many of our banners are more than 1000px wide, and sometimes it’s great to be able to print out the photos as well.  And the photos often need to be at least 3000 pixels to print well. 




6. Take photos as often as possible!

I take photos for clients all the time, and the best way to ensure getting great photos is to literally take thousands. People are always blinking, looking funny, twisting around, going cross eyed.  Expect to take literally 1,000 photos at every event, and just go through and delete the terrible ones. Let people take photos as often as they want, but only upload the absolute best photos to Flickr. There’s no point in keeping bad photos taking up space and time. 

Also, if you want some examples of the kind of photography I’ve taken, check out www.justinpagewood.com/photography — and notice certain elements, like color, composition, facial expressions, lighting, and the like. 


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