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The Rev. Janet Gollery McKeithen of Santa Monica, California, uses her iPad to catch the action on the floor at the 2012 General Conference of The United Methodist Church in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

The Rev. Janet Gollery McKeithen of Santa Monica, California, uses her iPad to catch the action on the floor at the 2012 General Conference of The United Methodist Church in Tampa, Florida.

Photography tips for General Conference delegates

Photography will not only enhance your General Conference story, it can tell it without words. As a delegate, you have a unique perspective and opportunity to share one of the most important United Methodist events with members around the world.

Retired newspaper editor Bill Greer has been an avid photographer since his college days, and now takes photographs for his church family at Christ United Methodist Church in Franklin, Tennessee. We asked him to share a few of his favorite tips for capturing great photographs in a church or organizational setting like General Conference. And thanks to technology, you don’t have to be a professional or lug around heavy equipment. If you have a smartphone or a mobile device, you, too, can capture the emotion of a moment.

  1. Be familiar with your camera and its various settings, whether it’s on your mobile device or not. Since you’ll be busy during General Conference, it’s important to experiment with settings before you get there.
  2. Be aware of lighting. The larger the space, the greater the lighting challenge. Don’t try to use a small flash to light up a big room like a convention center. Instead, use the flash to illuminate the foreground subject and allow the room’s natural lighting to illuminate the background.
  3. Keep eye level with your subject and avoid unflattering angles. Bypass full body shots and focus on faces.
  4. Choose a time and place where there’s a visually-interesting activity occurring to avoid simply lining people up in a row against a wall. Don’t feel self-conscious when taking candid shots.
  5. Move in tight to crop out visual clutter like water bottles, paperwork or too much conference table. Likewise, avoid visually busy backgrounds. If there’s something in the background that contributes to the photo, emphasize it. If not, omit it. Also, be aware of objects like light poles or steeples sprouting from the heads of your subjects.
  6. Move a little closer. Avoid taking photos from far distances. Fill the frame with whatever or whomever you’re photographing. If your'e using a mobile device, refrain from the pinch and zoom if possible. This will create grainy photos and decrease the quality of your photo.
  7. Get a grip. Shaky cameras lead to blurry photos. Mobile devices are especially difficult to keep steady because they are so lightweight. Steady your grip by using both hands or bracing one arm by holding your elbow.
  8. Go on the grid. Many mobile devices have a grid feature that will help you frame the perfect shot. Try to follow the rule of thirds. The grid divides your shot into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Don’t aim for the center. Instead, shoot the subject at the point where the four grid lines intersect. This photography standard can create more visual interest.

Once you’ve snapped the perfect photos, share the moments you’ve captured with others. Instagram is an easy-to-use, popular photo sharing app. Check out Instagram tips for General Conference delegates for more advice.

For more tips and resources, visit our Resources for General Conference Delegates landing page.

Need more information? Email us at Presscenter@umcom.org.