How to Get the Best Summer Camp Photos of Your Camper
By Tawny Austin
One of my biggest passions is photography. I love being able to capture moments that can be shared for years to come. The summer of 2018 was my first summer working as the summer camp media director and there were a lot of things I learned! I decided to put together a list of 5 things you as a parent can do to get the most out of your child’s summer camp photos and videos.
A huge benefit of sending your children to camp is it gives them a chance to unplug from electronic devices and the many other distractions they face each day, spend time in God’s creation, build genuine, face-to-face relationships with both peers and camp staff, and most importantly—spend time getting to know God better. In today’s society, it is not only hard for children to be away from the electronics that they hold dear, but it can also be hard for parents to adjust to not knowing what their children are up to at every moment of the day. The great thing is that camp has a media team working to bridge that gap—by capturing the moments and memories that parents aren’t able to be present for during their week at summer camp.
Here are a few ways you can prepare for your child’s week of summer camp to be sure you get the best photos of your child:
5. Use the software/social media the camp is using to post pictures/videos.
To be sure not to miss any precious photos of your child having a great time, be sure to use the software or social media channel that the camp has chosen to use to post their photos and videos! At our camp (Camp Gilead) we use an app/website called Bunk1, where the photos can only be accessed by users with a code (given to the parents). This app is so neat because it will alert you when we have uploaded new photos and it will tag your child by facial recognition, so you can pick out the photos of just your child! We do use Facebook and Instagram sparingly during the week to post photos and videos, but we prefer to use Bunk1 for the majority of our uploads. It is easy to learn how to use and we can ensure that only the “best of the best” photos and videos are uploaded to our social media channels (more on this in the following tips).
4. Send your kid with good/appropriate clothes you would be fine with them being photographed in.
This step can be done during packing—while the anticipation for camp is building! It’s a great idea to stick to the dress code that is requested by the camp. Not only has it been created to ensure the kids have a comfortable, non-distracting time at camp but it is also put in place so we can have great, shareable photos! There have been times (swim time especially) where I captured an amazing photo, only to have one of the campers be inappropriately dressed, or someone in the background of the photo inappropriately dressed. Although I do know my way around photoshop (and have definitely used it on photos I wanted to use badly enough to share on social media), it’s a lot nicer to not have to do that! The campers don’t have to wear fancy clothing by any means, just keep in mind that your child will mostly likely be in photos that may be shared (photos last forever!) and we would like to protect the integrity of your child to the utmost!
3. Tell your kid to smile if they see a camera around.
This seems like an obvious one but this happens often during the week. Similar to the last point, I’ll grab a great photo where the campers look like they are having a blast, but someone is frowning in the background. Then, without fail, a parent will call and ask if their child is sad. Every time we check on the child, they’re enjoying their camp experience but they just happened to not be smiling in the photo. I promise that I individually sort through every single photo that gets uploaded and I really wouldn’t post a photo of your child on there if they were sad! I am mindful of every photo I post and it pains me when I have to refrain from posting a photo for fear that a parent may be concerned. I (and most every photographer) LOVE capturing emotion in the photos I take—especially positive ones like happiness, joy, and excitement! I will naturally gravitate toward campers who are displaying those emotions when I take my photos. So, if you would like more photos of your child, encourage them to, if they’re having a good time, show it! Especially if they see a camera around.
2. Be patient: give camp a few days to get going before calling/messaging/asking for pics of your kid.
If I could, I would wait until the end of the week to sort through all of the best pics and post them later on. That way I could spend more of my time out and about with the kids getting all the photos and videos that I can! But I know how parents want to see what has been going on each day and in this time of “insta”gram, I know how important it is to be quick to get photos up! My media team and I choose 2 times during the day to sort through our photos and pick out the ones we would like to post. Although we would like to be using our time efficiently and focus on our work, sometimes we have to answer calls, emails, or social media messages asking us when we will be posting more photos. Be patient with us! We don’t ever want to do things haphazardly for the sake of being fast—we want to produce high quality work and give our best, not only to you as parents, but also to the Lord!
1. Encourage your kid to get in photos/ask the media person for fun pics with their friends
My last (and BEST) tip, is to encourage your child to engage with the media team! Although we aren’t your child’s camp counselor, we still love getting to know them and having fun with them! Some of the very best photos (many that we are using for our website and promotional material) are of campers who either asked a media person to take their photo or who said “yes!” when we asked them. How neat would it be if the first time they ever did ______ at summer camp was captured on camera, simply because they went over and asked the media person to take a photo of them doing it?! As the media team, we try to take a “candid” approach most of the time and stay out of the way of the activities going on but some moments are perfect to ask us to take a fun photo!
These are my best tips for making the most of your summer camp’s media team! Even though I’m in charge of media at summer camp, I know that it’s not the most important thing. What is most important is that campers are coming to Jesus, growing spiritually, building long-lasting friendships, and enjoying God’s creation. It’s my greatest joy knowing that I get to be part of preserving the memories that are made at summer cam, and build relationships with the kiddos as well! I also enjoy getting to keep parents’ minds at ease, every time they see a photo of their child enjoying themselves at camp, or helping a camper better explain to mom and dad that fun thing they did at camp last week. It is my honor to be able to use one of the gifts God has given me to serve others in this way.
Written by Tawny Austin, serving as Marketing & Media Coordinator, and Camp Registrar at Camp Gilead. To learn more about Gilead’s Summer Camp Program or to register to camp click https://www.campgilead.com.