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The Photographer badge is part of the “Legacy” badge set introduced in 2011.

When a Girl Scout Ambassador earned this badge, she will know how to capture her vision of the world in photographs.

Step 1: Explore the power of photography[]

Your goal in this badge is to tell a story important to you through photos. So before you delve into the technicalities of your camera and learn basic skills, use this step to explore the stories that photography can tell.


Go to a photography exhibit.  Look at each photo without reading the accompanying text and see if you can “read” the story it tells.  Note what makes at least 20 photos powerful, so you can try the techniques. If you can, gather reproductions of your favorites to keep for reference.


Create a photography timeline.  Make a timeline to show how photography has changed over the years, including at least 10 major moments in photography history.  Then, find 10 or more photographs that are especially meaningful to you, research who took them and when, and add them to your timeline. Choose photos whose stories will help you develop ideas of your own.


Get into photo ethics.  What does it take to capture and tell a strong story of conflict nature, or people?  Find 20 photographs from newspapers or magazines and talk with others about the ethics involved in capturing, editing (do you think anything was altered?), and publishing them.  Keep what you learn in mind as you take your own photos.

MORE to EXPLORE:  Talk to a pro.  Visit a professional photographer to discuss what you’ve found out about photography.  Ask the photographer how they got started in the field of photography, what kind of photos they take, and what advice or mentorship they could offer you in this badge.


Just as words can inspire people and bring change to human conditions. Take a look at this web site ( to see photos that made a difference.

Step 2: Focus on composition: Shoot five landscapes[]

Now, it’s time to get into photo basics!  Do a little research into the four elements of composition:  the “rule of thirds,” framing, depth, and lead lines.  When you photograph your landscapes, keep the composition guidelines in mind.

“Everywhere you go, you are likely to find people with cameras busy photographing their friends, the scenery, their pets, or anything they enjoy.  Almost everyone knows how to take pictures, but it requires knowledge to take good pictures.”

-Girl Scout Handbook,1953


Capture a day in the life.  Shoot one scene at five intervals throughout one day. If there are people in the scene, how can you turn them into part of the landscape?


Photograph weather patterns.  Is a storm coming in?  Take five photos at different stages – before, during, and after the storm.


Take five photos from a different vantage point.  Try to shoot images from above, below, or at some other angle.  You might capture the landscape in a 360° panorama.

Women in the Material World

In their book Women in the Material World, Faith D’Aluisio and Peter Menzel share stories and images of women in 20 countries: An Ethiopian woman shreds her life in an arranged marriage, a Russian teacher struggles to exist after her husband’s murder; and an Albanian mother cares for her severely disable young son.  Their portraits reveal the women’s hopes, sorrows, and joys, and shed light on our differences and similarities.


Consider composition in this Photography badge activity from 1963.  Take a series of pictures that are purely artistic – that create a feeling or mood through the use of different textures and/or lighting effects.

“Painting” a Landscape

It can be fun to think of a landscape like a painting.  

Try these tips to help you see things a little differently.

Ø  Squint to blur details.  This will allow you to see blocks of colors and shapes.

Ø  Don’t forget foreground distract from the bigger picture.  Are you focused on the entire scene?

Ø  Use your hand or cardboard to block the sun.

>>> Common Camera Terms >>>

·       FOCUS: Adjusts sharpest focus on your subject.

·       AUTO FOCUS: Some cameras include multiple auto-focus points in the viewfinder.

·       APERTURE: Adjusts lens opening, measured with an f-number, which controls amount of light that passes through the lens.  Higher f-numbers mean smaller openings and less light, offering longer depth of field (the part of a scene that looks sharp in the image) and allowing you to shoot objects at a wide range of distances.

·       EXPOSURE: The total amount of light allowed to fall on the subject during the process of taking photograph.

·       SHUTTER SPEED: Can be used to control the light speed for each exposure to create or avoid blurring.


  • Photojournalist          
  • Animator        
  • Portrait photographer          
  • Photo restorer    
  • Archivist
  • Scientific photographer       
  • Photo technician        
  • Videographer     
  • Industrial photographer
  • Photo stylist        
  • Picture framer     
  • Medical photographer           
  • Photo historian
  • Graphic designer       
  • Crime scene photographer        
  • Digital photo imaging specialist
  • Museum photo curator         
  • Lighting technician

Step 3: Focus on light: Shoot five portraits or still lifes[]

What features do you want to capture about a person: her fashion sense, her love of serenity? What features of an object do you want to showcase: a vase’s smooth surface, a cactus’s’ spiny texture?  As you take five portraits or still-life scenes, experiment with light to see how it can help you emphasize the features you choose.  Try flash, natural light, using a flash outdoors, or a light source you create.


Invite friends to a shoot day.  Set it up with fun locations, wardrobe, and props, and play around with the placement of people and objects to create your five shots.


Capture the same person or object from five different perspectives. You might play around with more than light:  What about distance from the object(s), zoom, and angle? If you’re taking portraits, experiment with posed and candid shots.


Grow your image.  Start small and photograph one person or item, then, begin to add others, so your image “grows” in each of your five photos.  See how the light affects its shadows and shapes, and how different textures and colors interact.

Tip: A black-velvet background absorbs unwanted light and reflection.  You might, also, try a white piece of paper as a background, but watch for shadows.

Still-Life Ideas

Ø  Pick a song you like and find objects to illustrate it.

Ø  Tell an emotional story – a romance or a tragedy – through the objects you select.

Ø  Choose several objects that represent you – your interests your values, your outlook on life – and create an autobiographical still life.

Ø  Pretend to be a product photographer, and take pictures of household or fashion items as they might look in a catalog.

Ø  Pick a number of shape, and photograph it everywhere you see it.


·       Alternate between full-body poses and close-ups

·       Prevent red-eye by having your subjects look slightly away from the camera – turn on room lights to help shrink pupils

·       Crack your friends up to get a natural smile instead of a forced one!

Step 4: Focus on motion: Shoot five action shots[]

Try to stop motion and retain a strong sense of movement by doing one of the choices below.


Take photos of a group or an individual in motion.  A group could be a sports team, a dance company, or your friends running.  Capture an individual in five stages:  maybe a pole vaulter picking up her pole, running, taking off, going over the pole, and landing . . . or five quick shops at the top.


Take photos of faces in motion.  Capture five different faces in action, or the same person with five different active expressions – perhaps a growing smile, a nod, a wink, a blink, or a vigorous head shake.


Take photos of objects in motion. Shoot five different objects, or one object in five different stages of motion – perhaps a basketball, a fast car, a falling leaf, or a festive spritz of bubbles.

Pro Tip  If you’re not using a tripod, hold your breath when you press the shutter; that helps keep the camera stead.  If you are standing, brace your elbow against your chest. If crouching use your knee to support your elbow.

Secrets of Food Stylists

Remember that photograph of a delicious-looking hot-fudge Sunday?  It was probably motor oil poured over mashed potatoes.  Shooting real food is almost impossible:  Hot food gets cold, frozen food melt, and fruit turns brown. Here are some food-styling secrets from the pros (remember, don’t try this at home!).

∞ When shooting a drink, use acrylic cubes instead of real ice cubes.

∞ A blowtorch browns the edges of raw hamburger patties and hot dogs.

∞ Paint brown shoe polish on raw meat to make it look succulent.

∞ To make lettuce look fresh, spritz it with water from a misting bottle.

∞ Soak and microwave cotton balls, then place in a bowl to make a dish look steaming hot.

∞ Camouflaged toothpicks hold sandwiches together.

∞ Use white glue instead of milk in cereal photos.  It keeps the flakes in place.

∞ Motor oil looks like syrup in a photograph, so it’s often poured over pancakes.


Step 5: Tell a story with photography[]

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2015 Gold Awardee Melissa McHenry

Use your new skills to tell a photographic story that means something to you.  Do you want to show others a cause close to your heart, or create the story of you for a resume or college application?  Take your photographs, then, share them in one of these ways.


Stage a photo exhibit.  Show your photos at home, school, or at a community center.


Make a digital slide show.  Post your photographic story in a private online space for family and friends.


Create a photo album or scrapbook.  Share your creation with others.

More to EXPLORE!

Explore your community in photos.  Pretend you’re a Girl Scout from 1963, and do this activity from their “Your Community – Yesterday Today, Tomorrow” project:  Compare old photographs of your community – “Main Street,” schools, historical sites – with current photographs.  What changes have been made in transportation?  Have new industries replaced old ones?  Has there been a shift in the central business district? Have supermarkets, shopping centers, airports, and superhighways changed the mode of living?

Collect all your ”yesterday, today, and tomorrow” pictures, drawings, facts, and predictions and work them into an attractive exhibit.  Offer to display it in a local library, high school or lobby or a civic building bank or newspaper office building.

SIX HINTS FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS        >>> Avoid Common Mistakes:

1.  BOUNCE LIGHT:  Reflected light from light buildings, pavements, or water areas can be bounced against your subject to supplement the direct source of light.

2.     BEWARE NOON SUN: Sunlight directly overhead causes deep shadows under eyes, nose, and mouth.  Snap people during midmorning and afternoon for flat, flattering light.

3.     KEEP YOUR DISTANCE: If you’re using autofocus, it sometimes won’t allow for sharp pictures up close.  Step back, or see if there’s a macro setting if you want to close in on your subject.

4.     USE FLASH OUTDOORS AS WELL: If it’s a cloudy day, shoot with your flash on to add contrast.  Or, try the flash when sunlight is at the side to fill in shadows on people.

5.     CAMERA ANGLE: Move the camera around and get high or low. Try to change the way you hold your camera when it’s appropriate – vertically instead of landscape. Sometimes you can even use the camera on a diagonal angle to produce some interesting results.

6.  AVOID DEAD CENTER: Draw or imagine crosslines midway on your viewfinder.  Keep horizon well below (or above) center and the main subject off-center for composition.

Look for opportunities to be creative and think of unexpected ways to photograph your subjects using light, positioning, composition, or movement to your advantage.

Melissa McHenry, Girl Scouts of Nassau County[]

Melissa McHenry was a Girl Scout who received her Gold Award in 2015. On May 9, 2016, she died of sudden heart complications just after she came home to Lynbrook after her first year of college. She was 18 years old.

In true Girl Scout fashion, Melissa loved giving back to her community. After learning that a fire had destroyed a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and a new construction had gone up in its place, for her Girl Scout Gold Award she combined her passions for art and giving back to help decorate the interior of the new space. To inform her approach and bring an educational touch to her art, she interviewed local veterans on the different services they provide and learned about the various branches of the U.S. armed forces. 

Melissa’s dedication to leaving her corner of the world better than she found it is what Girl Scouts is all about.

Add the Badge to Your Journey[]

All your Leadership Journeys invite you to do a Take Action project.  Photography skills will come in handy. You might:

  • Show before and after shots of how you made a difference
  • Use photos to motivate people to help you
  • Thank all those who helped you with photo gifts

Now that a Girl Scout Ambassador has earned this badge, she can give service by:[]

·      Educating and inspiring others by using photographs to support a cause

·      Documenting an important event for her family or community

·      Giving a basic photography course to other Girl Scouts