Photography Merit Badge Class

March 24, 2015

This past Saturday I had the honor of teaching the Merit Badge Class for Photography to some Boy Scouts! It was plenty of fun being able to teach on something that I have expertise in, and made it as fun as possible for the boys I worked with.


As I prepared for this lesson, I was given the Photography Merit Badge pamphlet that goes over ALL of the material that would need to be discussed in the class and be taught to the boy scouts. This also included activities that the boy scouts needed to do so that they also had some hands-on learning from the class which helps them earn their badge.


After reading over the full pamphlet, I made myself familiar with the terms and techniques that the Boy Scouts had to learn. I started to write out my lesson plan and every now & then ran into some writer blocks. Thankfully I was asked 2 months ahead of time before having to teach the class, so I’ve had plenty of time to get over those blocks so that I could be as creative & fun as I could be for this class. However, sometimes during those writer-block sessions, I would find myself looking online to see what others have done in the past to teach this class and to see how they made it interesting.


I didn’t find too many examples of what people did to teach this class to help fellow scouts earn their Photography badge. I did find some sites that went over what they needed to learn, but nothing like what ideas people had for the class. So I was pretty much all on my own, which wasn’t a problem! I just had to have my creative gears running at a faster rate.


With that being said, I’m putting out my material of how I taught the class right here in the open on this blog entry. Everything that I put together can be used freely as long as I am credited. (If I am not, oh well. It would just be nice ;)) Or, if you’re just interested in Photography and would like to learn more about the technical parts and composition rules that professionals use, you’re more than welcome to read it all yourself, too! Here’s what all of my lesson plan includes:




  • One Microsoft Word Document with detailed information on what terms, techniques & information needs to be taught to the Boy Scouts that provides them with the knowledge they need to obtain the badge. There is also 2 activities listed in the Microsoft Word Document that can be done. One activity is necessary in that they need to take at least 3 pictures using the techniques discussed in the class, while the other activity is for fun and is a time filler that my boy scouts enjoyed very much.

  • One Power Point file with slides that go along with the Microsoft Word Document that contains the lesson plan. The Power Point file features pictures by yours truly to help teach the class. If you are a photographer yourself, you may go ahead and change out the pictures. There are only a few pictures in the Slide Show that were not by me and were found on the internet, such as the examples for Shutter Speed & Aperture. The sources can be found on Google.

  • Two Tests that I have written up, along with a Answers Sheet for each test to use as reference when reviewing the answers with everyone. You can adjust anything on these tests as you wish, as they are tailored and geared to how I presented the lesson plan


Some insights on how teaching the class went, since this was the first Merit Badge class I have ever taught in my life. With the material I wrote for the class, I was able to drill the terms & techniques into the boy’s minds and helped them understand everything in a broken down way. I even included Video Game references (you can see in the documents) to further drill what they needed to learn into their minds easier. Because most boys now a days understand video game concepts, and with me being a gamer myself, I couldn’t help but slip a couple of references here and there. ;)


With the way I presented this subject, I was able to keep everyone’s attention pretty well. Of course, in any class, not everyone is going to be very responsive or seem uninterested, but that’s why I did the Review segments in my lesson plan along with including times where I asked for volunteers so that I could take a picture of them using one of the terms or techniques we discussed. This was also done so they could see what they were learning being put to the test right in front of them.


I also planned out to have a couple of tests in the class. If I were to go back and change one thing about how I taught this class, it would be that instead of two small tests, I’d do one big test combining both of the tests together and have them take that one test before we did our first and required activity. I made the tests pretty easy to do if you were paying attention, but the purposes of the tests was for them to read & write, two very helpful memory builders rather than just me speaking to them on everything. I also gave them the option to split up into two and work together to work on the tests. I made sure they knew that this wouldn’t count against them if they got any wrong because this was merely a learning experience meant to help them learn what they needed to know about Photography for their Merit Badge.


As for the activities, they were a hit! The first (and required) activity wasn’t as fun as the second, but the boy scouts verbally communicated to me that they liked the fact that I took them outside of the classroom and to the outdoors. I had us all walk around the church building we were at and then at the end of our walk for about 10 minutes, we stopped to have them each take at least 3 pictures using the composition techniques we discussed in class.


I had boys use whatever camera device they had on them. The majority of the class used the cameras on their phones, while a couple of boys brought actual digital cameras or their iTouches, and there was only about 4 out of the 20 boys I taught who did not have any kind of camera device. I brought my DSLR camera with me not only to take pictures in class to demonstrate some of the terms & techniques we were learning, but to also allow the boys without a camera to use mine so that they could get experience with using the composition techniques we went over.

As other boys were still taking pictures or goofing off while waiting for me to review their photos, I would look over the 3 photos an individual boy took for review. I would have them explain to me what rules or techniques they were going for in each picture and I would interject any rules or techniques used that they didn’t even notice they were using. This process of them taking photos and then showing me what composition rules they used in each photo was what is needed for them to gain the Photography Merit Badge as it shows their knowledge and application for the badge.


Many of the boys photos were taken using the Rule of Thirds and Leading Lines techniques by using each other as subjects for the Rule of Thirds and placing them in specific frames of the camera and by using fences, tree branches and parking lot lines as Leading Lines to their subjects. Some even applied the techniques of different angles, and some got VERY creative!


After I had all of the boys done with picture taking and reviewed, we headed back inside to the classroom. We were outside for a good 30 minutes.


Once we got back, we discussed some career options they could have with Photography. I also informed them of how I do my business and what all avenues I trod on with Photography and many were intrigued to learn that they too could have their own business one day if they so desired. Some students only liked the aspect of taking landscape pictures because they loved nature, which I then told them is a great road as well! There is revenue in that people will buy your beautiful Scenery photos for their homes/businesses. They can even be used for magazines or even advertising a tourist area. The options in photography are broad!


The last activity I had them do was the one they all really enjoyed and that was turning their tests into paper airplanes! This was done so that I could show them how camera tools such as Shutter Speed, Aperture & ISO can work together to bring out whatever result they wished. Shutter Speed being the target. I had them all line up and then whoever was up to the front of the line got to state whether they wanted a really slow blurry picture of their airplane flying or a quick & clear picture of it flying as if it was stopped in time. They all enjoyed see the results and being able to throw their tests around, I mean, who doesn’t want to just throw their test out?


It was a very fun class to teach and thanks to my preparedness, I can use all the material I wrote again in the future if I am asked to teach again! If anyone ever has questions regarding using my Teaching Material, you can comment below or even email me at

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Ash Snap'em Photography

The Woodlands, Texas

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