Over the years we’ve tried many approaches – a single dedicated photographer, a team of 4 dedicated photographers, posting one album of 100 photos a day, posting thousands of photos a day, adding bonus albums for special events, special trainings for photographer, mapping out the routes to avoid seeing the same kids every day, daily shot lists… No approach has really hit the mark for all families and none was noticeably better than another.
In recent years, we’ve settled on a formula of 100 photos a day with more than one dedicated photographer to cover all of camp. This year, with staffing shortages everywhere, we were not able to spare one or preferably 2-3 of our talented staff as dedicated photographers – photos are nice but engaging chugim and fully staffed cabins can’t be sacrificed for a fully staffed photo team.
When all the possibilities were exhausted, we put it out to our staff: “Photos make parents happy. Anyone willing to add photography to your other duties?” We were thrilled when 6 fabulous staff raised their hands! We created a system for each team member to have an hour dedicated to photography each day and asked them to find windows in the day to upload photos when they could. Wifi is not available throughout camp so uploading can be a challenge.
While there have been challenges, especially when our photo team members days off coincide or when they are staffing tevas (camping/canoe trips), the team has turned a camp chore into camp fun. They’ve usually been able to provide our daily 100 photos, gotten some beautiful shots and worked to balance the photos between kids and programs. We especially love how the counselor’s letters home to families often illuminate what was happening in those photos.
Perhaps more importantly, we are proud that our staff have enthusiastically embraced an extra responsibility this summer: “Help parents feel comfortable being away from their children.” We think they are knocking it out of the park! We hope you’ll join us in saying “Yasher Koach!”
We also appreciate our families who bring a sense of humor and self-awareness to the photos. It goes a long way to feeling like we are all on the same team – the team that is helping your children grow! So, to the parent who said, “I know my kid is alive but I’m anxious, any chance you can get them in a picture?” Thank you. To the parent who said, “It’s me, not you…but I really miss my kid and it’s been a lot of older kids lately. Could you focus on the young ones?” Thank you. To the parent who said, “I’m trying to remember that if I don’t see my camper in photos, it means they are busy having fun…I trust Herzl will let me know if there is a problem.” Again, we thank you. And to all of you who bite your tongue when we post shots of a kid doing a cartwheel frame by frame, thank you. You see, it’s a cool photo series to get and the photographer is proud of their work. We know they aren’t the photos you want to see but we post them because all people enjoy having their work acknowledged.
And no conversation about photos is complete without referring to the timeless camp photo commentary, “Refresh.” Enjoy!
Sidenote: If ever you’ve grumbled about photos – quality, quantity, content – and thought “how hard can it be??” (We know you have because we’ve said it ourselves at least 1 million times), this is for you: We wanted a photo of our wonderful Photo Team for this blog. So we handed a camera to a random staff person and told them to point and click at this lovely group last Shabbat. Turns out, the answer to “How hard can it be?” is “Hard.” The group of 4 at the top was taken by Team Member Sarah while this dark group of five blurry figures in front of a crisply in-focus tree is the whole team. Hope you find it as funny as we do!