Alrighty, David has asked me to write a blog post about photography, and I am by no means a skilled photographer or even a knowledgeable one at that (I attribute my picture quality to my nice camera, not me!), but I will try and offer my best advice and hope that it will help each Grow Appalachia site capture the spirit and happenings of the 2013 Grow Appalachia growing season!

There are definitely times when you will need/want to break these rules, so take them all with a grain of salt.

General Photography Guidelines

-Think about the photo you are taking, what purpose does it serve and is it interesting to someone who is not present at the time? If not, don’t take it.

-Take lots of pictures but only use the good ones, digital cameras allow you to take tons of photos but 75% of those photos taken are probably not worth sharing (or keeping), delete them and only use your best photos.

-Think about the background, is it distracting or unattractive? If possible move to a new location or clean up the junk that may be in the background of a close up photo.


The background mess distracts from the vegetables in this picture


A different angle and closer focus get rid of the background mess

– Make sure your subject is in focus before you take the photo. With most digital cameras you simply press the shutter button down ½ way and hold it there, the camera will then automatically focus and when the focus box on the screen turns green you can press the button down the rest of the way.

-Don’t cut someone of at the joints (wrists, ankles, neck etc.) If you are not going to include the entire subject, then as you are going down a subject’s arm or leg, you want to put the edge of the frame in the middle of the upper arm/leg, the middle of the lower arm/leg, or include the entire limb. And when I say the middle of, I just mean about not at the joint.

-Think about the lighting, if possible take pictures outside, I find that natural lighting always looks better.


Fluorescent Lighting


Natural Lighting

– Choose the right shooting mode on your camera for each specific picture, close up, no flash, scenery, action, etc., or if full auto mode will give you the best quality go for it, just make sure it is appropriate for the photograph you are taking.

-When photographing people, shoot with your back to the sun (meaning your subjects should be facing the sun) this will prevent shadow on their face.

-Rule of thirds: in the simplest way I can put this; don’t center your subject smack dab in the middle of the photo. To apply the rule of thirds imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts.


Using the rule of thirds

The four corner points of the center box are ideal places to place a subject.

– Use the photo processing program on your computer, Picassa, iPhoto, Preview, etc. all have editing capabilities that can be very helpful, even if you only use the auto correct function.

Grow Appalachia Specific Tips

-Ask participants to pose with their produce or canned goods, most people are proud of the food they grow and will be willing to show it off


Or ask them to pose with their chickens!

-Take pictures of participants IN their gardens, unless it is an AMAZING garden it doesn’t mean much to others if there are no people in it

– The previous 2 points aside, some people really don’t want their picture taken, if they act unwilling or uncomfortable don’t take their picture, unhappy subjects don’t make for good photos!

-Less can be more (unless you are trying display quantity EX. 20 bushels of tomatoes). Pictures of produce will usually look better when you choose a few items that look good and photograph them close up. Most digital cameras have a close up (macro) setting, which is indicated by a flower icon on the setting dial.

Preservation workshop 001

Close up and at eye level radishes

-Make sure your picture tells a story. Grow Appalachia is all about helping people to grow good food, that is a pretty fun business to be in, a good photo will illustrate that!

-Don’t take pictures from the back of a room (I am completely guilty of this) you might want to show how many people are in attendance but close up pictures of people will be more valuable than the backs of everyone’s heads. You can always report attendance numbers in written format or verbally.

-Get down on the same level as your subject, when taking pictures of plants (or kids) crouch down so that you can have a straight on point of view.


I hope some of these guidelines will help my  fellow Grow Appalachia sites produce beautiful pictures of the wonderful people we work with and the delicious food we grow, happy Friday!