Shooting Tips & Guidelines

Fathers in Focus Participant Resource Portal

We have all had that feeling of capturing a photograph and feeling that it did not truly represent what we saw or experienced at that time. This is because the way we experience the world extends beyond that single frame. We cannot capture the smell of the grass, the sound of laughter, the way the air felt on our skin or the warmth of the sun on our face. But there are ways to convey these experiences through images.

It will be an impossible task to make a complete manual for that in this project. Besides, there is no single right way to do something in photography (and many other things too!) especially considering the fact that each of us will be telling a different story, through different lenses.

Ultimately, it will be up to your individual research and interaction with co-researchers and coordinators, along with constant practice that will help the most in effective storytelling.

Case by case basis

Photographer and Fathers in Focus Lead Artist Nwel Saturay will be available throughout the project to assist and guide in specific cases should you get stuck or simply need someone to bounce ideas with. Feel free to get in touch!

Choosing the right tools

A popular saying within the photography community holds true for Fathers in Focus: the best camera is the camera that you have with you. In this article we will cover a few tips that might help you start photographing and developing your story.


Regardless of the camera that you choose to use, these are general guidelines that you might find helpful in effectively telling your story. For beginners, it is a good advice to photograph your subjects in multiple angles or composition.

  • Light – Observe how light interacts with your subject. In photography, light has the biggest influence in how your subjects look. Our eyes are naturally attracted to the brightest points of a scene. Generally speaking, one of the most common and readily techniques to to help viewers focus on a specific detail in a photograph is to put it in the brightest light.
  • Framing – Often, what is not in the picture is just as important as what is in the picture. Be mindful not only of the objects and details that are in your frame, but also what are not.
  • Composition – Shooting from different angles can also dramatically change the look and even the message you want to show. For example, shooting a subject from a low angle can evoke a sense of power. There are many articles out there that can aid you in effective storytelling through composition.
Shooting with your phone

Camera phones certainly have their limitations, but they do come with the unmatched advantage of being the most readily available camera that we have in any given moment. While dedicated and larger cameras such as DSLRs and mirrorless cameras might offer the best image quality, they are not necessarily the best tools for every occasion.

For those using smartphones in this project, here are some tips that will help you overcome some of the limitations that it presents.

  • Light, light, light. Even the most modern phones struggle with capturing quality images in darker environments. Try to take pictures where there is sufficient light hitting your subject.
  • If you must take pictures in situations with insufficient light, try your best to keep your camera as steady as possible. In low-light situations, your phone will automatically slow its shutter speed down, therefore unwanted movements will be visible in your image.
  • Exposure Compensation. Smartphones automatically adjust the exposure depending on the scene to what it thinks is best and neutral. However, especially in scenes with high contrast (or huge difference between the dark and the bright parts of a scene), your phone might try to do the opposite of what you want (think of silhouettes). Since every phone out there is slightly different, you may need to search the internet on how to use Exposure Compensation in your specific device.
  • Zoom in with your feet. When taking pictures of close ups, move in closer to your subject instead using your phone to “zoom in.” While some smartphones now use multiple lenses to aid in quality when zooming in, most still relies on doing this artificially, which simply crops the picture and enlarges the pixels to fit the frame.
  • When transferring or sharing images, especially if you intend to print them, you want to use the highest quality available. As a general rule, using messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp or Viber must be avoided as these apps will resize and reduce the size of your images. Learn about the optimal and best practice to send your photos here.
Privacy and Ethical Responsibilities

In Storytelling & Photography, we talked about the role and power of our stories and images. This power can encourage positive change, but may also cause harm, even if we do not intend it. Please take time to read this article and learn how we can minimize, if not completely avoid unintended harm that we may cause.

Fathers in Focus from A to Z: The Complete Guide

The Fathers in Focus project is a Photovoice research guided by the University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work and its community partners. It aims to show the experiences and stories of fatherhood in Alberta. Utilizing photography to explore key questions, this project hopes to help build a community of fathers who are actively engaged in […]


Video: What is Photovoice?

Let’s talk a little bit more about Photovoice and why it is a unique method in conducting research. In this video, Fathers in Focus co-researcher Rita Dhungel talks about her experiences in facilitating Photovoice projects in the past (9 minutes).


Shooting Tips & Guidelines

We have all had that feeling of capturing a photograph and feeling that it did not truly represent what we saw or experienced at that time. This is because the way we experience the world extends beyond that single frame. We cannot capture the smell of the grass, the sound of laughter, the way the […]


Selecting, Editing, & Captioning

Less is more, but not always. Choosing a photo or a series of three photos that represent a story that you want to tell can be one of the most challenging steps in this project. In most cases, you may benefit from having a large pool of photos to choose from but you may also […]


How Do I Share and Upload My Images?

Before the second focus group meeting, you will be asked to send your photos and stories in advance so that the facilitators can display it on the screen as you tell the story behind them in an online environment. The best practice is to send the highest quality available. At any point, please avoid transferring […]


What Are Focus Groups?

In research, a focus group is a technique that involves a group of selected people getting together to discuss a given topic. Through these interactions, researchers (and participants) can explore and learn about themes, patterns and attitudes toward the topic. Fathers in Focus will hold three focus group meetings. Here is what to expect from […]


Participating in Focus Group Meetings using Zoom

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most of the meetings and interactions between co-researchers will need to be done through an online platform. We have chosen to use Zoom for this purpose. Here is a checklist of the things you will need to be able to participate: A stable internet connection Smartphone, or tablet, or […]


Privacy & Ethical Responsibilities in Photography

Portraying an experience, a person, or a community using images can be extremely powerful. We previously talked about the power of images and the way stories can inform, change or influence perspectives, or with that very same power, mislead and cause harm to a person or a community. When photographing your story, please keep the […]


Meet the Research Coordinators and Community Partners

Meet the team the put together Fathers in Focus! Throughout the your participation in this project, you will be interacting with the members of the team. If you wish to reach out to a coordinator or a researcher, please use this form. Researchers Rita DhungelReseracher Rita with Nepali heritage is an assistant professor with the […]


Privacy Policy

(Update: May 11, 2021) This website ( serves as an information portal for research participants and community partners ONLY. Site administrators and research team members do not collect data using this site with the only exception of when using the CONTACT FORM, in which your name, e-mail and anything you wish to include will be […]


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