12 things I learned from doing “summer camp photography”

I landed my first photography gig last week, I’ll be spending 5 weeks in a summer camp photographing kids while they (hopefully) have a great time stuffing each other with candies and getting all muddy.


Week one is over and I compiled a tiny list of all the photographic advice/things I learned this week:

  1. Kids will ask about your camera and they will definitely ask you to take pictures with it. If so, and you don’t want them to hate you, at least take the time to explain them they don’t need to forcefully rotate the focus ring, since the camera will focus on its own…or just switch to manual.
  2. Ask the staff for help, if there are photography packages where the parents pay extra for, try to talk to the staff for them to let those kids go together to activities, or at least be the first (or last) ones to do them, you will significantly lose less time.
  3. Clean your gear at least once a week, give it a full cleaning because there will be mud and foreign fingerprints everywhere.
  4. Hip pouches are your friends, trying to keep my phone in my pocket when I have to constantly be squatting or sitting down to take photos at kids levels isn’t a good idea. Also, keeping an extra battery, your wallet and some list is always in order.
  5. Copyright your photos directly from the camera, with this I don’t mean watermarks by any means; most cameras (I can speak only for Canon, tho) have an option in the menu when you’re on manual mode that allows you to write your name in it and later when you check them up on the computer, the proprieties will display your name. That could save a lot of time and avoid misunderstandings in case everyone is willing to claim your photo.
  6. Respect your lunch time, try to eat first (if you’re allowed) and don’t jump back into action right away, because the headache will come and things won’t be pretty. Take your time and enjoy the full free hour.
  7. Be mindful of your step, ask the staff if you’re interrupting the activity in some way, but also stay your ground, remember you’re doing your job as well as they are. With this I also mean, literally be careful of where you step, I made a kid fall the other day because of it, also stepped over another one…whoops.
  8. Lenses: test your ground, check if a zoom is more convenient than a prime, it will depend on the activities, the prime is light to carry it during the day, but the other one has more reach. It’s a matter of trying.
  9. Kids love to throw rocks, specially when they’re sitting while the staff is giving instructions, so be mindful of your camera.
  10. Sunscreen, trust me on this. Also, you’ll arrive home knowing by heart all the camp songs, and probably dreaming of them.
  11. Brevity, kids are fast, they enjoy running and moving pretty quickly, so even when I advice to keep your lens cap on, be mindful that you’ll need to be fast enough to take it off and capture one time things happening around you. Fast shutter speed is a must, good thing most of the activities are under the sun and there are tons of light to work with.
  12. Extra batteries, this goes without saying. A single battery won’t last you through the day, specially since I advice to keep the screen brightness at its maximum capacity due to the sun. I’ve managed to juggle a single battery so far by charging it during lunch, but it is pretty stressing to think I could run out of it at any minute.

Also, remember to enjoy yourself, kids are actually pretty cool when it’s not your responsibility to take care of them, only to follow them around.


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