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Resources include the Photography merit badge worksheet in PDF format Adobe Acrobat PDF and Word format Microsoft Word DOC document, links, and cross-references to related badges and awards.
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Photography merit badge
Status: Elective
Created: 1911
Discontinued: no
BSA Advancement ID: 083
Requirements revision: 2016
Latest pamphlet revision: 2016


Beyond capturing family memories, photography offers a chance to be creative. Many photographers use photography to express their creativity, using lighting, composition, depth, color, and content to make their photographs into more than snapshots. Good photographs tell us about a person, a news event, a product, a place, a scientific breakthrough, an endangered animal, or a time in history.

Photography merit badge requirements

  1. Safety. Do the following:
    a. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while working with photography and what you should do to anticipate, mitigate, prevent, and respond to these hazards. Explain how you would prepare for exposure to environmental situations such as weather, sun, and water.
    b. Show your counselor your current, up-to-date Cyber Chip.
  2. Explain how the following elements and terms can affect the quality of a picture:
    a. Light—natural light (ambient/existing), low light (such as at night), and artificial light (such as from a flash)
    b. Exposure—aperture (f-stops), shutter speed, ISO
    c. Depth of field
    d. Composition—rule of thirds, leading lines, framing, depth
    e. Angle of view
    f. Stop action and blur motion
    g. Timing
  3. Explain the basic parts and operation of a camera. Explain how an exposure is made when you take a picture.
  4. Do TWO of the following, then share your work with your counselor.
    a. Photograph one subject from two different angles or perspectives.
    b. Photograph one subject from two different light sources—artificial and natural.
    c. Photograph one subject with two different depth of fields.
    d. Photograph one subject with two different compositional techniques.
  5. Photograph THREE of the following, then share your work your counselor.
    a. Close-up of a person
    b. Two to three people interacting
    c. Action shot
    d. Animal shot
    e. Nature shot
    f. Picture of a person—candid, posed, or camera aware
  6. Describe how software allows you to enhance your photograph after it is taken. Select a photo you have taken, then do ONE of the following, and share what you have done with your counselor.
    a. Crop your photograph.
    b. Adjust the exposure or make a color correction.
    c. Show another way you could improve your picture for impact.
  7. Using images other than those created for requirements 4, 5 or 6, produce a visual story to document an event to photograph OR choose a topic that interests you to photograph. Do the following:
    a. Plan the images you need to photograph for your photo story.
    b. Share your plan with your counselor, and get your counselor's input and approval before you proceed.
    c. Select eight to 12 images that best tell your story. Arrange your images in order and mount the prints on a poster board, OR create an electronic presentation. Share your visual story with your counselor.
  8. Identify three career opportunities in photography. Pick one and explain to your counselor how to prepare for such a career. Discuss what education and training are required, and why this profession might interest you.

The official source for the information shown in this article or section is:
Scouts BSA Requirements, 2019 Edition (BSA Supply SKU #648914)

View the change list (history) of these requirements. The text of these requirements may be locked. In that case, they can only be edited
by an administrator.
Please note any errors found in the above requirements on this article's Talk Page.


Worksheet A FREE workbook for Photography is available here! (PDF or Word) with the maps, charts, links, diagrams, and checklists you need! Or click here to print just the Photography requirements. has PDF and Word versions of workbooks for Scouts BSA ranks and merit badges, Cub Scouting ranks and adventures, and STEM Nova awards.

Photography merit badge requires prior counselor and/or parent approval for requirement(s) #7b.
  1. The Photography merit badge was one of the original 57 merit badges issued by the Boy Scouts of America in 1911.

Requirement resources

1. Lesson Videos: Beginning Photography - How to Use a Digital Camera - Taking Better Pictures - CCD: The heart of a digital camera - Intermediate Photography

Rule of Thirds - Glossary of Photography Terms - Understanding Camera Exposure: Aperture, ISO & Shutter Speed - SLR Camera Simulator

1a. Light (ambient & flash) - Camera Flash, Part 1: Light Quality & Appearance
1b. Great examples of shutter speed and aperture - Shutter speed - Exposure - Exposure Triangle: Aperture, ISO & Shutter Speed - Aperture

Depth of field - Depth of focus

1c. Composition: Rule of Thirds - Wikipedia:Rule of thirds - Leading Lines - Framing - Depth
1d. Cameras vs. the Human Eye - Angle of view
1e. Stopping Action
2. The diagrams you need are included in the workbook (PDF Adobe Acrobat PDF or Word Microsoft Word DOC document).

How Cameras Work - Beginner's Guide

3. How Digital Cameras Work - Film vs. Digital - Digital versus film photography
4. The Citizenship in the Community #8 public presentation...of your community
could be given as a Communication #3 five-minute speech
using the techniques from Photography #4b to produce a picture story
and Art #1 to tell a story
which could be developed into the Digital Technology #6d short presentation.
Here is an example of a good photo essay. The BBC News In Pictures site also has several good examples.
5. Careers in Photography

Related awards

Art-related awards
Hobby-related awards

See also

Scouts BSA portal
Venturing portal
Sea Scout portal
General Merit Badge information

External links

Personal tools