Like most kids today, my children don’t know what life is like without mommy snapping 50 million pictures of nearly every minute of their lives. So it is only natural that they are curious about using my camera. A few summers ago, I picked up a small Fuji digital camera at a garage sale for around $50. It isn’t a great camera, but it is small and I didn’t invest too much money into it. So I handed it off to my kids and set them loose in the back yard. That might sound like a crazy idea, but part of photography is developing a natural instinct to capture a moment, or tell a story in one single frozen frame. That only happens with practice.
Some people have a natural spark or interest for photography and children are no exception. At first I sat back to watch what kinds of things my kids want to take pictures of. They seemed to want to take action shots of each other pretending to be animals in the wild, “now be a Cheetah and run at me!” Or they took close up shots of bugs and flowers. I tried to offer only a little guidance on how to hold the camera, using the strap for safety and how to use the zoom.
I have to say not every photo is worth a million bucks, but sometimes even a young kid can really nail a shot. It is simply amazing to see what they see through their lens.
Here is how you can help your kids get comfortable behind the camera lens:
You don’t need a fancy camera, or invest money in a child specific camera they will outgrow. You can hand your child your cell phone, or a simple point and shoot camera. Starting with a digital camera makes the most sense as your child will take random crazy pictures of their toes and you can easily delete all of those. As your child matures in technique and style, learning to use an old school camera that requires film can be pretty cool.
If you still have your camera manual, review it with your child. Teach them the parts of the camera from the lens, to the dial, to the flash. Once they learn the individual parts they can learn how they all contribute to creating a photo. Younger kids just need to know the parts they use the most like the toggle, the flash, the shutter release (button you press to take a photo), the lens and the on/off switch.
A scavenger hunt at any age is a great way for your child to look for photo ops. Create a scavenger hunt of about 10-20 things for your child to take a picture of. If you are out and about in the car they could snap pics of street signs, or mail boxes that they see out of the window. If you are hiking they could snap pics of leaves, sticks, something red, something blue, etc. Even a rainy day at home could produce some really fun photos. For older children they could capture textures, colors, letters, signs, buildings and architecture, or even a self-portrait.
There are some rules or guidelines for creating a great photo. Show your child how to split the screen into three sections. When taking close up images help your child identify the foreground and background. These simple techniques will help them learn to fill the frame for a more interesting photo.
Besides having a great subject, lighting is probably the most important way to create a great photo. Lighting can change the mood of a photo and how well your camera captures details. Have your child take photos in different areas of the house to compare how light effects their images. Then step outside to take photos to see how differently the light changes an image.
You can print out a few photos to display as art in your home, or create a photo book your child can show off to friends and family. You will be amazed how even kids can create some beautiful, frame worthy images. It could also be fun to host a family art show where you all show off your favorite prints.
The number one rule to remember is to let it be fun. Taking over the shot or telling your kid how to make the picture better takes away from their own creativity. Allowing kids to play with a camera and take photos on their own helps them develop their own creative instincts behind the lens.
Have you let your child unleash their inner photographer yet?
The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest.