Photographer focusing lens

Are You Into It?

This 4-H 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!

  • Discover how to take fascinating photographs
  • Learn about photography as an art, a science and a communication tool
  • Observe and enjoy your surroundings in a photographic world
  • Explore photography as a hobby or profession

Here’s what you can do with it: 

Starting Out Basic / Level 1  

  • Get to know your camera
  • Use tripods and bracing to steady and level camera
  • Try various lighting techniques
  • Use flash for fill and solving red-eye
  • Study photo composition
  • Use different viewpoints
  • Take photos of places, people and pets
  • Tell a story with photos
  • Learn to evaluate photos

Learning More Intermediate / Level 2

  • Use shutter speeds and t-stops (aperture)
  • Adjust the depth of field
  • Capture hard and soft light to create moods
  • Manipulate light using flash techniques
  • Evaluate composition using the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Triangle and the
  • Golden Rectangle
  • Use photos to tell a story
  • Take candid photos to capture a moment in time

Expanding Horizons Advanced / Level 3

  • Use wide-angle and telephoto lenses
  • Use filters and special film
  • Use light meter readings
  • 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 advance techniques

NEW--Digital Photography Exhibit

The addition of this experimental class is intended to provide a different photography exhibition experience for 4-H members. It also serves to provide legitimacy to on-line galleries as a medium for photography exhibition. Additionally, the class may reduce barriers for some 4-H’ers who may not have ready access to matting and mounting expertise or materials. We will keep this class at least two years before evaluating if the class is achieving the desired goals. See Combined ISF 4-H Exhibits General Rules and Class Descriptionswith special rules, for county fairbooks. Photography & Digital Photography use same Photo Label and Evaluation.

Take It Further

Photography Hot Sheet (color pdf)
Photography Fair Exhibits Tip Sheet (color pdf)
Design Elements & Art Principles Tip Sheet (color)
Poster Exhibits Tip Sheet (color pdf)
Exhibitor Fair Information Form (3 questions) (Word or editable PDF)
Photography Evaluation Form (pdf)
Here are other opportunities to explore photography:

  • Check out books at the library or visit online sources to learn more about technique, about composition, about copyright and privacy laws, and about the history and future of photography
  • Create a portfolio of your best photographs (Take note of what other professionals have done)
  • Enter a photography contest or exhibit at an open class exhibition
  • Enter a National 4-H photo contest
  • Is it fair time? Consider taking an exhibit, a piece of your project learning to the fair for judging and to show what you have learned throughout the year. It might get selected to go to the Iowa State Fair
  • Contact your county ISU Extension Office for other local workshops, activities, and events
  • Meet others interested in photography- Check out photography camps at the Iowa 4-H Center
  • Apply to participate in Camera Corps, an Iowa 4-H independent photography study
  • Join the Iowa 4-H Youth Technology Team
  • Attend Iowa 4-H Youth Conference and participate in workshops, motivational speakers and a community service project, bringing ideas back to your community
  • Interested in a college education in the area of photography? Schedule a visit with Iowa State University’s College of Design or Greenlee School of Journalism.

Step It Up

Pass it on! Now that you know how, share it with others. Here are ideas to get you started.


  • Tell your friends about the different types of cameras
  • Interview a professional photographer
  • Demonstrate how to properly present your photos


  • Complete a Service-Learning project
  • Photograph your club activities and make an album to share
  • Volunteer to take photos for a community event
  • Help archive historical photos


  • Show your friends how to create trick photography
  • Arrange for a guest photographer to present to your club
  • Organize a photo shoot for a local organization or your school

Exhibit Ideas

  • Identify the parts of a camera
  • Select, mount, matte a photograph
  • Photograph various subject matter

    • Portrait
    • Self Portrait
    • Pets/Wildlife
    • Landscape
    • Panorama
    • Buildings/Structures
    • Night time
    • Reflective
    • Action/Sports
    • Still life
  • Experiment with color variation

    • Black/white
    • Sepia
    • Bright color
  • Use a computer to render photos

    • Color enhancements

    • Spot color
    • Filters
    • Distortion
    • Type treatment
  • Create a photo series
  • Present a poster about matting and framing
  • Share your photography journal
  • Demonstrate enlargement and cropping
  • Prepare a display about flash techniques
  • Compare types of cameras
  • Describe the differences in photo formats (.jpg, .tiff, .eps, .png)
  • Create a PowerPoint of event photos or a series of photos
  • Produce a short video
  • Use photo-editing software
  • Give a presentation showing how to edit images
  • Analyze lighting techniques
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