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Help and advice for Church pictures

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Church pictures

Some of you are skilled photographers who know how to take the best picture, and there are others who just snap a picture. There is always a worse photographer than you are, so here are some tips so that if you are going specifically to take pictures for this project you will be satisfied with your efforts. These tips will, of course, be second nature to you skilled photographers.

Which pictures are suitable

You may already have some pictures and wonder if they are suitable. E.g if they contain people. Look at it from the point of view of somebody unconnected with the people, would you want to include it as part of your family tree. So if it's a picture of a bride on the church steps then that isn't really appropriate, but people in the vicinity is alright. However if its a picture of somebody with the church as a background then no. Would you want a picture of a stranger in your album? However if the church no longer exists then even one with people on it that we don't want is better than nothing at all. Use your judgement.

Composing the picture

The following tips will not be appropriate in all cases as each circumstance is different, but in general they all may help to provide the best picture.
  • In many cases the most appropriate picture includes the whole church so try and stand as far back as is needed to fit it all in. Try not to chop off the tower or spire!
  • If the picture is best in portrait format rather than landscape, rotate you camera by 90 degrees so that it fits in better.
  • Try and make sure the camera is held straight as if the church is leaning to one side in the finished picture it just doesn't look right. We can rotate the finished picture but that always results in the need to crop some of the image from the edges. So if you are unsure stand a little further back to allow for any cropping.
  • Churches are frequently in busy areas with a road in front. If that is the case please try and wait till the cars have gone before taking you picture. Removing telephone wires is easy, but with large cars ......
  • If there are trees or buildings in the way move around till you can find a clear shot. It's not always possible but try and find the best one. Street lamps and signs also seem to get in the way so watch out for them and see if you can't avoid them, try and get them where they aren't obscuring any interesting features of the building.
  • Try and choose a sunny day as the pictures look better then, but you may need to think about choosing the right time of day. If the sun is behind the church then it can shine right in the lens resulting in the building looking very dark and losing the detail. If you have no choice about time and the sun is in just the wrong spot try moving around. You may be able to find a tree or something to block it out.

Picture format

Please supply them as jpegs. The final size that I use is 800 pixels wide for landscape pictures, and 600 wide for portrait. If you think the picture may need cropping or rotating slightly then a larger image would be better as after rotating the edges need to be cropped.

Those of you with appropriate software will have used the usual tricks to correct any problems, but if you aren't into that then I will do it before installing the image.

sample copyright text
One of the tricks I use is to add the name of the photographer at the bottom of the picture as a copyright note with the year in which it was taken. This gives you some recognition but it is optional. However the year will be very useful as a historical record. Use a small font with text in a bottom corner of the picture. I tend to use white lettering or black if the background is very pale. Adding copyright is optional, and if the picture needs some adjustement it is best left off as it can be added later after any improvement.

Some churches have a large noticeboard at the front with bright orange, or some other distracting colour, posters on them. One technique I've found useful is to select the colour of the noticeboard background and paint out the posters so that it appears that nothing is on the board. This helps us concentrate on the church itself and not be distracted by items that we ignore when we actually look at things in real life.


Please don't take copies of pictures from somebody else's web pages etc. and supply them to us as that would be a breach of their copyright.