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Photo Production

Choosing and Taking Photos

In any photo documentary, taking a variety of types of pictures is usually best because it offers greater visual interest. You should try to take pictures from different angles and distances. The tips we have here can be done with any camera, including the one you have at home!

Consider including some or all of the following shots in your photos:

The Long/Wide Shot: A long or wide shot is typically taken with the lens zoomed out.

• PROS: The long or wide shot shows the big picture; it’s a great idea to use this to show locations.
• CONS: Long or wide shots can make it very difficult to see small details.

The Portrait or Medium Shot: The portrait shot features an important person or object in a medium shot (not too far away, not too close). Most snapshots are medium shots.

• PROS: This is used when you want to draw attention to a person or object as a whole (instead of focusing on other objects or on tiny details). These are generally the easiest shots to take very quickly because you can be a normal distance from your subject and you generally do not need to zoom in or out.
• CONS: Medium shots generally do not encourage the eye to wander in order to notice details; we generally focus only on the subject that takes up most of the space.

The Close-Up: The close-up can be used to show smaller details.

• PROS: Use this shot to draw attention to items or objects that you think are essential to the community. The close-up is great at showcasing details that we often overlook, giving us a new perspective on familiar things.
• CONS: In a close-up shot, we often don’t get a sense of the context of the image; when we see someone’s face in close-up, we have little way of knowing if they’re on Mt. Everest or in their kitchen.

The best thing to remember is just to experiment! Try holding the camera at different angles, take pictures up close and far away—try anything that you think will be interesting, especially if you’re using a digital camera.

In the end, your goal is to take interesting and beautiful pictures that best tell your story.

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