What are some valuable lessons to teach photography to kids?
The most valuable lessons to teach a child in photography are how to see the world and how to create meaningful visual art. They can both be learned through a camera lens and by watching other photographers at work.
Children’s eyes are naturally drawn to the subject matter and composition of an image, they see things differently and experience what we all miss. When we watch the world around us through a camera lens, we are able to notice things others don’t – details like shadows and light, patterns and textures. A creative photographer should encourage a child’s natural curiosity about the world, and point out the things in the world around them that are beautiful and interesting.
When I was a child I loved taking pictures, and I still love to show my family and friends my photos of our travels. This doesn’t mean I don’t also like to photograph landscapes, animals, or food, but I mostly enjoy showing them my pictures of people.
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your time together with your children when they are learning about photography.
Show the world
Have your child photograph the world around them. Take them out walking and ask them to photograph interesting aspects of the environment. If you are in a city then show them how to use a map to find their way around. Ask them to photograph buildings, street signs, interesting windows and doors. Look for the unexpected, as this is often where a great picture is found. If they are indoors, encourage them to photograph their home, family, room, and other things they enjoy. Remember to point out the things in the room that are interesting, for example a lamp on a table, a photo, or a vase of flowers.
Take time out
Children are interested in the world and often get overwhelmed and lose their interest quickly. If they are photographing a place they love, then take the time to walk together. It will also allow you to get a feel for the atmosphere. If they are photographing their home, take them on a quick trip around it. Take photographs of the outside too, for example of the view from their bedroom window, the garden, or the road.
Capture the moment
Your child will probably spend a lot of time looking for a suitable composition. This will lead them to capture the moments in their lives that are important to them. So be sure to capture the moments they are interested in, and make sure they are comfortable and have fun. It’s not always possible to make a beautiful picture of every moment, but it’s important to set the mood before the shot is taken, so the child feels relaxed and happy.
Use the zoom
To be able to show your child the world in detail, you will need to get close. When you are photographing a landscape or a building, zoom in to show the details. You can then photograph the same scene from different angles, so your child will have a range of perspectives to work from.
Don’t show off
It’s easy for us as adults to take a picture that is perfect, and then show it off to our friends and family. As much as it is nice to get feedback, it’s not always appropriate. It can be embarrassing when a young child takes a bad picture, and the parent feels they have to explain why it is bad. Also, children aren’t ready to see the work of an amateur photographer, as their eyes are not yet trained. Don’t give them the chance to compare and contrast the work of others. If your child is taking photos of a friend, be sure to check that the pictures are all of the same subject.
Children, especially boys, are often very impatient. Don’t let your child get frustrated when they are not able to photograph a specific item in their environment. When they are waiting, encourage them to look at the world, and use their imagination. They will soon find things that they like and be able to capture them.
Encourage them to take their own photos
When children are learning to shoot, it’s important to allow them to have some practice. Show them what you would like to be photographed, and ask them to take their own photos of it. Encourage them to experiment, and then ask them to edit the images. Ask them to choose the best one from a group of similar shots, and then show them the final result. Encourage them to share their photos on social media and compare them to the work of others.
As they gain more experience, your child will learn to work out their mistakes. If they are not satisfied with the way a picture is taking, or what they have achieved, they will tell you. Sometimes it may be that they don’t know the best way to take a picture, or they are experimenting. Try not to let them feel they are in the wrong if they make a mistake. In the early stages of their photography training, it may be that they are taking a few pictures and making lots of mistakes. It’s a good idea to have a go yourself, and if you see something that you like, point it out.
The most important thing when a child is learning to take photographs is that they feel comfortable and that they enjoy what they are doing. Ask your child questions about what they like and dislike in the environment. Encourage them to think of ways to improve their photographs. If you notice that your child is getting stressed, give them some reassurance. It may help to tell them that you have done this before and you know how to get over the hurdle.
Children will be excited about their first cameras. Be prepared by getting a suitable one, and make sure it has a good quality lens.
Be a model.
Ask your kids to pose for you. They will love it! The best part is, your children will learn a lot from posing and also the skills to take great photographs.
Teach your kids to use the manual.
Manuals can be complicated, but if you teach your kids how to use the manual, they will have more control over their cameras and will understand how the controls work.
The shutter speed determines the speed at which the picture is taken. It is set to Auto, Shutter, or Bulb. Manual lets you select a specific shutter speed.
Aperture lets you control the depth of field (how much of the subject is in focus). It can be set to 1/3, 2/3, or 4/3. It can also be adjusted with a variable aperture. Manual lets you select a specific aperture.
Your child should practice shooting at different speeds and apertures to find out what works best for her/him.
Take a class.
Teaching photography to kids is much easier if they enroll in a local photography class. Most teachers allow them to photograph during the class.
Kids who have been taught photography skills are more likely to become passionate photographers themselves.
For inspiration, let your kids take a look at some of the most talented photographers’ work. Their techniques and work flow may inspire them.
Children love having their pictures taken. They will enjoy learning about the camera and taking pictures, especially if they get to have some fun along the way. Finally, if they can enjoy the process of taking photographs, it will become one of their hobbies and help them relax in their free time.