These guidelines are to help anyone with an inclination — whether skilled or unskilled — to capture the best, most helpful photos for the Sacred Fire Community archives.


  • Make sure the lighting source is front lit and not too shaded. We want vibrant, glowing images. We all have a tendency to find a backdrop we want to use so badly that we ignore crucial details like lighting. We all need to learn the skill of recognizing the right backdrop.
  • Try to show a mix of people. Our audience is the everyday people of the world.
  • Think mainstream. Avoid too many images of people of a particular type. We easily come across as “back-to-the-land hippie” or “new agey” or “American Indian” or “Huichol.” We want to avoid this as much as possible. We want to show people that ordinary people can identify with.
  • Although we are very earthy and often hold our events in natural settings, we want our events to appear clean and uplifted. If you consider the indigenous people of many traditions, they usually dress in a festive way and have a way of looking fabulous even though they sometimes live in very undeveloped settings.
  • Maintain an aura of magic and mystery. Unless there is a key speaker giving a talk or presentation (in which case you should arrange for someone to be an “official photographer” during the event), we generally don’t want to show the inner workings of events. For example, we want to avoid shots like the body movement exercises done as part of Dancing/Moving with Emotions or photos of Grandfather “in the suit.” Don’t show those. There should be some magic reserved for people to discover when they arrive at the event. It’s generally better to show the joy and community atmosphere in between program segments — close ups of relaxed, open people or people enjoying themselves after having had their hearts opened at the event.
  • Make sure fires—in ANY photo—are vibrant. Shots of anemic fires paint a dampened impression. Anemic fires are those that have one or two logs, or where the flame is dying down. We want vibrant, flame-filled fires. Remember — you may have experienced a special magic being there and associate that with a photo taken; but we’re shooting this for people who weren’t there and who have never experienced this type of thing. All they have to go on is what they see.
  • Please ask the MC, coordinator or leader of the event to make a short announcement thanking people for their willingness to let us use their image in photo or video, emphasizing that this is really helpful in our efforts to bring the medicine of Fire to more people.
  • It’s important to have people sign a media release form for us to be able to use their images in the future. We are incorporating this into our online registration system for future programs. We also have the media release incorporated into a sign-up sheet for instances where that is not available. Contact for more information.
  • Make a note of the people who are in the photos or video if you don’t know them, and send that to us along with the photos/video.
  • How to deliver photo and video to us. When you have captured your beautiful photos and video, please write to to discuss the best way to get them to us.


  • Capturing photos should be a fun and playful experience. So much is in the way you approach people as a photographer or videographer. Generally, we want casual, relaxed and playful. So if you, the photographer are in that space, you will inspire others to be there with you.
  • If the photo is of a particular subject, aim to get the primary content in the center of the photo. On the web, images will be auto-cropped on mobile devices, often eliminating content in the right and left edges of the photos.
  • We also need shots that are more atmospheric, less focused, with the primary content on the edge of the photo, allowing us to use the center for wording or other things.
  • Take one or two photos that capture the atmosphere of the event. If there is attractive signage, get it in the photo, along with shots of groups of people enjoying themselves in the space.
  • Getting a group shot of participants at the end of an event is a great way to show the fruition of the event — opened, joyful, glowing, alive people. This shouldn’t be somber or stiff. People playfully displaying their emotions and being in group photos after an event are great. Be creative and allow for natural expressions of fun to emerge.
  • Using the backdrop of nature is great. Everyone can relate to this. But try to avoid images that come across as overtly “tree hugging,” like people with disheveled hair, running around in nature with their shoes off. Although most of us appreciate the sentiment, it runs contrary to the goal we have of presenting an offering that the majority of humans can relate to. We’re not trying to make a statement or change people; we’re trying to meet ordinary people where they are so they can experience the medicine of Fire, Heart, and connection.
  • Quirky, playful, creative shots are great. Some of the best in our collection are things like the circle of hands around the fire after a women’s retreat, or people joking in their group photo. See below for some examples.
  • Horizontal layout photos are most useful (i.e., wider than tall), since most web and social media sites are designed for horizontal photos.
  • Please send us high-resolution images. Often on smartphones there are options of sending low, medium, or high resolution. We would like the high resolution ones, which allow us the flexibility we need to use the shots in a variety of situations.
  • Please don’t touch up, color-correct or crop the photos. Our designer will take care of that, and if you’ve already modified the photo, our options will be limited.


  • The main thing we’re looking for is video testimonials, which we can use either as independent video snippets on social media, or to stitch together to make larger works.
  • It’s good to have some filler shots, but look for shots that capture some kind of magic. Conversations could be good, or people engaged in some kind of play or group activity in the space. We don’t want to make the program or event look too ordinary. If it looks like a casual, backyard barbecue, we’ve lost the magic.
  • If taking video on your iPhone, be sure to orient the frame horizontally so the capture is wider than tall. There is very little, if any, need for vertically oriented video.
  • If you are inspired to help edit and assemble the video, please contact to get more information about our branding and messaging parameters.
  • Check out this really helpful article from the New York Times on how to take great video using your smartphone.


We are very grateful for your help us expand awareness of Sacred Fire by capturing photo and video. By being recognized as an official photographer or videographer at our event, you agree that the media you capture is the property of Sacred Fire and cannot be used or shared in other situations without our written permission.


Here are a few examples of past photos with comments.
Really striking and magical (although the faces are a bit shaded in the first one):


Nice content, but the lighting could be better:


Great atmosphere, but a bit blurry, and there’s a chair in the way of the Fire

Very expressive Fire, and not anemic. The folding table in the background is not the greatest; it sort of dampens the magic.

Nice photos, but the lighting makes the faces too dark — and they’re the main content


This is the kind of post-event shot where you see the impact the event had on the participants. But the fire could be stronger, and the smoke obscures the faces. It would be better if the whole shot were more compact around the Fire (not so much distance)