Photography Tips for your Next Mission Trip

by Josiah Holland

4 Principles for Perfect Pictures

We recently posted an article by Jessica about the privacy and safety concerns of photography and posting to social media. You can read that article here.  We weren’t saying in that article that having pictures from your trip is wrong. Rather, photography on a mission trip deserves intentionality. So here are some ideas for how to do it well.

Assign one person to the job

Giving the responsibility to one person lets everyone else off the hook for needing to pull out their phone every time something new or exciting happens.  Your team likely doesn’t have cell service in a foreign country, so now everyone can leave their phones with their belongings or tucked away in a backpack where it won’t be a distraction.  This also limits the need for multiple expensive cameras to be brought on the trip. The responsibility can be passed around day-to-day, but by committing to only bringing a single camera, your team reduces the risk of theft.


Keep your elbows against your body

Reduce the shaking in your arms by keeping your elbows against your body if at all possible.  This will help keep your pictures from being blurry. You can also use a tripod for this, but a tripod likely isn’t practical on a short-term mission trip.


Use simple backgrounds for portraits

If you’re trying to capture people, a boring background is your friend.  You don’t want the busyness of the background to become a distraction. If it’s more of an action shot or if the context of what people are doing matters, ignore this advice but still consider your backlighting and the best angle for taking it all in.


Remember the Rule of Thirds

You’ll want to imagine a tick-tack-toe lines on top of your camera frame. Two lines splitting the frame into horizontal thirds, and two lines doing the same vertically.  Place the focal point of your picture at the intersection of 2 lines instead of directly in the center. Of course, this doesn’t always apply as with a group picture for example.


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