Simple Tips To Teach Your Child Photography
Is your little one eager to click pictures? How do you introduce her to the wonderful world of photography? Here are a few simple tips you can follow to help your little photographer blossom!
By Kerina De Floras
“If we could all see the world through the eyes of a child, we would see the magic in everything” – Chee Vai Tang
Children start each new day as an adventure. Through their eyes, the world is fresh and new with many places to explore and wondrous sights to behold. While we adults might have outgrown things like stopping to smell the roses, children haven’t. Don’t believe us? Just hand your child a camera and watch her world unfurl. Her photographs will show you how differently she sees the world.
Photography helps your child express how they see the world and the objects in it. It allows them to experiment and explore their curiosity, while learning to focus. Teach your child the basics of photography and watch their creativity skyrocket. The approach you need to take to teach them is, however, very different from how you would teach an adult. Lessons, technical terms and rules are not important to children when they try to learn photography. The focus should be on letting their creativity and curiosity take shape. If your child is interested in photography, keep these simple tips in mind as you guide her to take better photos.
Holding the camera
“When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear” – Alfred Eisenstaedt
Start by teaching your child how to hold the camera steadily. This way, they will move from blurry shots to clearer ones. Guide them to get a good grip and hold the camera in a comfortable position that also allows them access to the controls. For younger kids, start with plastic digital cameras that are lightweight. Middle and high school kids might be interested in taking shots with your phone’s camera. If your child is using a DSLR, ask them to keep one hand under the lens for better support and wear the neck strap to avoid dropping the camera.
Start with the basics
“The single most important component in a camera is the twelve inches behind it” – Ansel Adams
That’s the photographer! Make sure your little artist behind the camera is taught the basic rules of photography. If your child is under the age of 10, teach her to avoid cropping out limbs of people or animals when she photographs them. You can also teach her to fill the frame with an interesting subject by taking closeup shots. For children over 10 years, teach them about the rule of thirds, using leading lines and choosing the right lighting. It is important to teach them in simple terms to keep them interested. You can explain the rule of thirds by asking them to imagine a tic-tac-toe board over the scene and placing the subject on one of the intersecting lines.
More practice and less theory
“Which of my photographs is my favourite? The one I am going to take tomorrow” – Imogen Cunningham
Children might lose interest if you overwhelm them with the rules of photography. Instead, allow them to experiment. Taking a lot of pictures will help your child learn more with time. Urge him to bring the camera along whenever you go out so he can practice with different landscapes and people. Tell your child to experiment with angles, directions and lighting as he takes snaps of a subject. Hand him an object and ask him to take ten different pictures of it. Talk to him about what he thinks is different in each photograph. This way, he will not end up taking 100 images of the same thing. If he gets stuck, move the object to a different location or background. Urge him to practice around your house, with the garden, flowers, pets and family.
Choosing the subject
“Sometimes you can tell a large story with a tiny subject” – Eliot Porter
Your child will probably understand by now that good photographs focus on a person or object. Talk to her about how to choose a subject and how to place it in a photograph. While most children tend to place their subject at the centre of their photo, some children also place it too much at the edge. Show her your photographs and ask her to identify the subject. Tell her how she can bring attention to the subject and make them pop in her photographs. Help her develop an eye for detail on the background of the subject to avoid distracting objects.
Locating the source of light
“The raw materials of photography are light and time and memory” – Keith Carter
The right lighting can add an extra ‘wow’ to your child’s photographs. While young children may not be too excited about different techniques, you can always teach them to click a picture by making the subject face the light. Ask them to experiment with natural lighting during daytime to make their photos look bright. If you have older kids, explain how lighting can make their photograph pop. Teach them to shoot in low light in the evening, help them add a natural warmth to photos by using back lighting and guide them to experiment with window lighting. Use props like sieves, filters or bubbles to make their photographs more interesting.
Begin with the auto mode
“The camera sees more than the eye. So why not make use of it?” – Edward Weston
When you hand your child a camera, ask them to shoot in auto mode. Then, go through the photographs with them and explain how the camera has automatically focused on a subject. Slowly introduce them to manual focusing by pressing down the shutter halfway. Ask them to experiment by framing their shots for better results. With older children, explain the different modes on your camera and how they are used in different situations. Talk about sports mode for action shots and macro mode for closeup shots. You can gradually introduce them to more details like aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like” – David Alan Harvey
This is probably the most important tip that will help your child improve her photography skills. Help your child retain her perspective when she shoots a photograph. It will help her bring out her view of the world in the photo. Talk to her about it and ask her to explain the story behind the photo. This will make her understand that photography is a way of letting people experience what she sees. Encourage creativity, even if it means breaking a few rules. Suggest ways to improve the photo by shooting the subject from a different angle. For example, let her lie on the floor to click a picture of her sleeping pet, rather than click from the top or at eye-level.
Experiment with zoom
“The best zoom lens is your legs” – Ernst Haas
When your child shoots a photo, ask her to make sure she has positioned herself close enough to the subject. Urge her to move closer to the subject and try again. Then, show her how she can zoom in and zoom out of scenes when she needs. Zooming is another way to choose a perspective in a photograph. Let your child take closeup shots of people and objects to learn about how zoom works. The macro mode on your camera can help her learn about focusing on details in her photograph. Take a look at closeups later and try guessing the object she has photographed.
Make photography fun
“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still” – Dorothea Lange
To help your child improve his skills in photography, create activities around it. Help him choose his favourite pictures, print them and put them up near his bed. Organize a scavenger hunt and ask him to click pictures of objects he needs to find. Ask him to narrate or write a story with his favourite picture of the day. Create a blog with his pictures and ask him to write about each picture. You can also urge him to send his photos to friends and family as gifts or postcards. Most importantly, play a muse to your child and help him click the best photographs!
We believe these simple tips can help your child ace photography. At any time, if your child feels let down about her photographs or has a bad day and says photography is tough, make her take a break and revisit it later. Help her understand that everyone has rough days. Remind her how much she has improved and always be available to help her do what she chooses to.
About the author:
Written by Kerina De Floras on 20 August 2020.
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