Photo Tips for Success


Photos will be judged by the following six criteria:

  • Overall Impact (educational, inspiring, persuasive)
  • Creativity
  • Composition or Technical Quality
  • Memorable Content and Delivery
  • Expression of AmeriCorps Identity and Mission
  • Public Rating during the Submission Period


As you conceive your photo, think about the following:

  • How does AmeriCorps help America tackle some of its biggest challenges and meet educational, environmental, public safety and other human needs?
  • How can you show the difference AmeriCorps makes in your community?
  • What impacts or results has AmeriCorps members' service had on the community?
  • What impact does the AmeriCorps experience have on its members?
  • How does AmeriCorps have a transforming impact on one person's life?
  • Why should someone join AmeriCorps?
  • If you had to illustrate AmeriCorps' impact in one word or idea, what would it be?


  • When taking portraits, talk to people with respect and curiosity, and have fun!
  • Be adventurous with your composition – frame faces off-center, try shooting from different angles, and don't be afraid to get up close.
  • Be aware of your light source. If the sun is in the background, your subject will most likely be too dark to see in the photo.
  • Catch places at the best time of day – usually early morning or just before sunset, when shadows are subtle.
  • Try using a flash when lighting is poor. But remember, if you get too close to your subject with a flash, you'll white-out your picture.


  • Pay attention to your background – phone wires, fence posts, or street signs could add to your photo or be distracting.
  • Take advantage of overcast lighting – shadows are very minimal since light bounces off everything.
  • Experiment – sometimes blurry works! See if you can get a motion shot that is just a little blurry. Or move with a subject to make the background blurry. What seems like a random snap could turn out to be a very dramatic photo.
  • Try shooting without the flash – Some of the best light of the day happens when the sun is down. You’ll need a tripod in low light.
  • Photograph reality, not your preconceived ideas. Let each place tell its own story, even a place badly altered by mankind tells a valid story.
Bookmark this page and
check back often for updates