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Photography for Kids
OK, in this Photography for Kids article, I have to give full disclosure right from the very start.
#1: I’m a photographer, so there’s a good chance that I might be a little bit biased.
#2: I don’t have kids of my own (but I was one once, and still am one if you ask my wife)
#3: Refer to number #1.
Also, I have to admit, that my start in the world of photography didn’t happen until later in my life. One little subject at uni definitely piqued my interest, but it wasn’t until many years later when I started to explore this wide brown land of ours that I purchased my first digital camera.
A Pentax ‘point and shoot’ became a constant companion of mine on travels from Cape York to Port Arthur. My favourite pic was taken with this little 4MP beast at sunset out the front of the Birdsville Hotel. The canvas print still hangs proudly in my lounge room.
These days, the younger generation have an electronic device in their hands from an early age. Most of these devices have a camera built into them. Add in the natural inquisitiveness of a child, and the next Ansel Adams could be just a few clicks away.
What is the best way to get kids interested in photography? In my humble opinion, it has to be to KEEP IT FUN and MAKE IT EASY.
Taking a picture doesn’t need to be hard, so don’t make it. Don’t worry about the things that ‘professional’ photographers nerd out about. Things like aperture, shutter speeds and ISO. Just give the kids a camera, put it on full automatic mode and let them go crazy.
Auto mode gets the kids used to the holding the camera, zooming in and out, composing a scene, taking the shot and reviewing the images. No matter what their age, auto mode is the best mode for an absolute beginner. The camera does all the heavy lifting. Remember, it’s all about having fun.
Compared to the old days of film photography, digital photography is relatively cheap. Kids can take a lot of photos because you don’t need to buy and process film.
Speaking of cheap, getting your kids started in photography doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg (or your firstborn for that matter). If you’ve got an old smartphone lying around, then give them that. This will give them a chance to see if they actually like photography or not.
What type of camera should I get them?
If you want to get them their own camera, grab a cheap ‘point and shoot‘ model. They’re small and lightweight and the kids won’t mind carrying them around. A quick online search will reveal a plethora of models, and you don’t always have to buy brand new.
Get one that has a few different shooting modes so the kids can experiment, as well as a decent zoom range. The shockproof/waterproof cameras are a good option (have a look at the Nikon Coolpix, Olympus Tough or Panasonic Lumix ranges), as they will provide protection from accidental bumps and drops. As a bonus, the outback dust won’t bother them either.
A quick word of advice: get a camera that takes a rechargeable battery/ies and always have a spare/s ready to go. There’s nothing worse than grabbing your camera for that once in a lifetime opportunity, only to find that you have a flat battery!
TIME TO SHOOT
Alright, the batteries have been charged and the memory cards have been formatted. Now it’s time for the kids to get out there and use their new camera. But what take photos of?
Firstly, I would say anything and everything. Encourage your children to take pictures of what interests them. Whatever catches their eye. Whatever appeals to them. Whatever brings a smile to their face. Now that you’ve got the camera and memory card, each and every photo won’t cost you a cent (until you want to print them, but we’ll get to that later!)
After this scattergun approach, you may find that your child is drawn to a certain subject or a certain type of image. That maybe flowers, insects or portraits of their pet dog. It doesn’t matter what it is, as the more they do it, the more they will hone their skills. As with most things in life, we get better the more we practise.
Experimentation is key
Encourage your child/ren to experiment. One benefit kids have over us adults is the different way that they see the world. You see, it really is a matter of perspective. The world really does look different from only three feet above the ground as opposed to nearly double that. Get your kids to explore those different perspectives: shoot from really low or look for that higher vantage point before taking that shot.
Changing the distance from the subject is also another useful method for varying how a scene looks. Get in super close and have the subject fill the entire frame, or take a few steps back for a wider angle shot. Go even wider for those big landscape pics.
Get your child/ren to move around the subject and shoot it from multiple angles. Apart from them trying, and working out the best angle to shoot from, they will also learn how light affects the subject.
OUT AND ABOUT
Being travellers, your kids will already be exposed to some amazing sights and awesome family adventures. Teaching them how to use a camera and capturing precious memories will make these adventures even more memorable.
Encourage your child/ren to bring their camera along for family and social gatherings, or even plan a day out with the sole purpose of taking some really cool pics.
Try to instil in your children when they are photographing their travels, to find a balance between just photographing the places and things that they visit, but also the people that they are travelling with as well. This took me some time to come to grips with, and I still remember my first trip to the UK back in 2009. Over 5000 photos taken and only a handful or so of my wife and I!
PRINT YOUR PHOTOS
I touch on it earlier, but you really need to print their images. There is nothing better than seeing your favourite shot printed, framed and hanging on a wall. (I’m talking from personal experience here!)
Always print your images when you get back from a holiday. Get your kids to pick their top three snaps from their most recent trip, get them printed and hung on the wall. Dedicate a wall in either the family room or their bedroom and change them up periodically.
Print a photo book for each family trip or holiday. These can be put together online by the kids with ‘drag and drop’ templates. These make great coffee table books or even gifts.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON PHOTOGRAPHY FOR KIDS
Writing this article reminded me of a meme I saw once. I may have mentioned at the start of this article that photography didn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg, well I may have been telling a bit of a white lie. It doesn’t cost that much to get into it, but the longer you stay into it, the more it will definitely cost you. So this is what the meme said: TEACH YOUR KIDS PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THEY’LL NEVER HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO BUY DRUGS!
But remember, above all else, keep it fun and keep encouraging them. You never know, one day they might be better than you!
PHOTOGRAPHY FOR KIDS ACTIVITY IDEAS
Set a specific colour, and have your child/ren look for, and photograph things of the specific colour
Ask your child/ren to find objects that start with a certain letter and photograph them.
Get them to find objects that start with the letters in their name or they could look for things that look like letters to make their name.
Create a list of 20 items they need to find in the house or in the yard. Hand over the camera and have them photograph the options as they find them. Be sure to throw in something of a challenge.
Choosing a certain theme eg. lines, doors, shapes and have them photograph them. This is a great way to both engage their imagination and expand how they see the world around them.
Also known as the ‘photo a day’ project is exactly as it sounds. Take at least one photo a day, for a year. If your child is a bit older, they may even want to start their own blog to document the process.
About the Author:
Hi, I’m Matt. I camp, four-wheel drive, explore the outdoors and get paid to take photos.
I’m happiest when I’m doing all four at once.
Occasionally, I’ll even tap out a couple of words on my keyboard.
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