The 4-H photography project is designed to help you explore the world of photography. From learning about camera equipment to capturing great images and sharing what you have learned with others, you are bound to love photography! Learn about cameras, lighting, and digital or film media so you can be ready when you find that great shot. Discover how to take amazing photographs. Learn about photography as an art, a science, and a communication tool. Build skills you can use to excel in other 4-H opportunities and explore possible new careers.

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Exploring 4-H

Exploring 4-H Photography
Spark Activity: A Picture Is Worth .

A to Z Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

Take a photograph which represents each letter in the alphabet. It can be a literal interpretation or it could be something more abstract like a picture of a Quiet pond to represent the letter ‘Q.’

Picture This For this activity, think of a word. Then think how you can apply that to a photograph. The challenge is to take a photograph that someone else will look at and think about the word you are trying to portray. For instance, if your word was “Spring,” you could take a photo of a flower bud, people planting a garden, animals with their young, a rainbow after a storm, or anything that represents Spring. How can you, in only one photo, get your viewer to “see” your word? Show your photo to three different people and ask them to say the first word that comes to mind. If they say your word, you were successful!

Think About

  • As you review the photos that you took, do you feel something different than expected?
  • Do you wonder why you took that photograph?
  • How would you review your surroundings with an idea of the purpose of your photograph?
  • How will you apply this information when you take holiday photos or vacation photos?
  • How will you share this information with others interested in photography?
4-H Project Levels and Goals
  • Get to know your camera
  • Use tripods and bracing to steady and level your camera
  • Use flash for fill / solving red-eye
  • Study photo composition
  • Use different viewpoints
  • Take photos of places, people, pets
  • Tell a story with photos
  • Learn to evaluate photos
  • Use shutter speeds and f-stops
  • Adjust the depth of field
  • Capture hard and soft light to create moods
  • Evaluate composition using the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Triangle, and the Golden Rectangle
  • Take candid photos to capture a moment in time
  • Use wide-angle / telephoto lenses
  • Use filters and special film
  • Practice with light sources
  • Use viewpoints, framing, and lines to lead the eye
  • Use symmetry, shape, pattern, and texture to capture creative photos
  • Use specialized equipment and advanced techniques
Put Your Project Into Action

Find a Photo and Video Model Release here. Learn more about finding Metadata for your photos here.

Show Your Skills

  • Photograph various subject matter (portrait, selfportrait, pets/wildlife, landscape, action, night)
  • Create a photo series
  • Present a poster about matting/framing, flash techniques, enlargement/cropping, camera types
  • Identify parts of a camera
  • Share your photography journal or portfolio
  • Analyze lighting techniques

Service and Leadership

  • Photograph your club activities and make an album to share / run for Club Reporter
  • Volunteer to take photos for a community event
  • Help archive historical photos
  • Teach friends how to create trick photography
  • Arrange for a guest photographer to present to your club
  • Organize a photo shoot for a local organization


  • Job shadow a photographer in your community
  • Get real-life experience by taking photos at your local fair / community event, providing digital copies to the participants and organizations
  • Build a portfolio of pictures and develop a business plan for starting a photography business

Technology Connection

  • Produce a short video using stop motion video
  • Use photo-editing software (example: color enhancement, spot color, filters, distortion)

Connecting with a Mentor

  • Interview a professional photographer and study their portfolio
  • Job shadow with a professional photographer
  • Join a regional photography club Events
  • 4-H General Project Judging Event
  • Photography Workshops and Clinics
  • Enter a national photo contest
  • Enter a local photography contest or exhibit
  • Join a yearbook or photography club at school or in your community

Project Manuals & Exhibit Requirements

  • Level 1: Photography Basics          
  • Level 2: Next Level Photography          
  • Level 3: Mastering Photography

Purchase manuals on the Shop Illinois 4-H Store

View exhibit requirements and scoresheets on the Illinois State Fair page.

woman holding a camera with lake or ocean behind her
  • Photo Journalist
  • Scientific Photographer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Architectural Photographer
  • War or Wildlife Photographer
  • Commercial Photographer
  • Portrait Photographer
  • Freelance Photographer
  • Food, Sports, or Fashion Photographer
Start a Conversation
  • How is photography used as an art, science, and/or communication tool?
  • How can people take good pictures of the moon?
  • How can you get good pictures of wildlife?

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H Hot Sheet

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension 4-H

North Dakota State University Extension 4-H project sheet

Michigan State University Extension 4-H project sheet

Authored by: University of Illinois Extension- Unit 1 4-H Staff, 2020

4-H Spark Sheets are a collaborative effort of 4-H staff, volunteers, alumni, and teens from across Illinois. A big thanks to the many contributors and reviewers!