Erin Dunigan asked participants in her photography workshops under the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Big Tent here to fill in the last word to the statement, “I would be a better photographer if…” 

Answers came back ― time, money, patience and others.

Dunigan said, “There is one good answer: ‘If I took more pictures.’”

Leading the workshop “Every Picture Tells a Story – Photography and Photojournalism,” Dunigan told participants to “open your eyes,” advising them to look everywhere, to pay attention, to look for the unexpected and to allow themselves to be distracted.

Pastor of a new worshiping community in Baja, Mexico, Dunigan has carried her camera around the globe, taking pictures for the Presbyterian News Service, The Presbyterian Outlook magazine and the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

She provided an acronym ― FABS ― for shooting better photos; Frame, Angle, Background and a number of words for S, including sunlight, story and selection.

When it comes to framing a photograph, she advised participants to “look for things in the foreground and around the outside to communicate a story.” 

She encouraged participants to “shift your perspective,” looking from above, from below and from different sides. She said she can always tell when someone else has used her camera because they inevitably take pictures from a higher perspective than the diminutive Dunigan.

When it comes to background, photographers need to consider “how it adds to a photograph or detracts from it,” she said. Patience, too, can be required because “sometimes you need to wait for your background to appear,” Dunigan said, showing a slide where a passerby’s shadow had added an element to the photograph. 

She said the position of the sun is important, noting the photographer’s rule to never shoot into the sun and then showing how it can be broken for effect. 

Photographers, she said, also need to always be mindful of the story they seek in photos and advised the participants to be “merciless in selecting” the photos they will show. 

The PC(USA)’s Big Tent, which ran Aug. 1-3 here, celebrated its mission and ministry under the theme, “Putting God’s First Things First.” The event included 10 national Presbyterian conferences, more than 160 workshops and special events that marked the 30th anniversary of the formation of the PC(USA) and the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Presbyterian Center here.