Monday, October 11, 2010


Teaching Kids Digital Photography Basics - a Great Activity for Families

  • Monday, October 11, 2010
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  • Being a parent with two children whom I've known closely before and after I bought them their own  digital cameras, I think I notice that a child with a camera is a child who thinks about her environment. The camera just happens to be a tool that forces a child to actually look at what she's seeing.  Clutching a camera all the time, she can't help but be aware that she needs to do something with it that is noteworthy. A camera is something that makes a child look at the world with fresh eyes, and it gently gets you thinking about expressing something with your pictures. And even more so than the conventional camera, thinking and experimenting becomes really fun when you go digital - the results are instantaneous, and that makes the process really engaging. So as a parent, I feel I just need to gently steer her with a few digital photography basics that make sure poor quality results don't get her to lose interest; and I'll need to make sure she has plenty of activities that she would need to take pictures for.

    Let's start with a few fun activities for children that could help their budding interest in the art of expressing themselves. My daughters really love the close-up mystery game. One child will take the camera out of the room, and snap a picture of some object really close-up - it could be a vegetable, a part of the body or a part of some familiar toy. She brings it back into the room, and her sister has to look at the close-up shot of a part of an object she's familiar with, and find out what it is. This is such an interesting little activity that even grownups love to do this - there's a popular car review show on TV that has one of these little quizzes at the end of the show each week. We go on day trips out into the country where the children can take pictures of butterflies and little flowers, and learn their names. They would never want to do this if it didn't have a camera.

    Another activity is where I teach her digital photography basics (without becoming too pushy) that she can handle. When I would want to play with my mother's camera when a child, she took it as a great way to begin schooling me in the art of photography. She just turned out to be a little too enthusiastic, and even looking at her camera meant that I would soon listen to an hour's lesson about what stance to use and how each kind of angle affected the lighting. I learned my lesson then, and now, when my daughters try to use their cameras, I make sure that the lessons I give them are few and far between.

    I find ways to show them how to hold the camera steady, and to actually compose their shots before they press the shutter button. I show them how their subject looks prettier when they don't rush into it. I have them check out the angles and the backgrounds they will frame their subject against. It shows them the value of patience and how a background that has the least bit going on, and is the simplest to look at , can be the best way to bring out the subject to the fore. I also ask them to pick their subjects wisely. They need to look at something that really piques their interest; I keep asking them about how they see the picture in their mind's eye, and I won't let them touch the button until they see on the screen exactly what they see it in their imagination. And they need to make sure that the shot is close enough to actually bring the subject out in enough detail. I feel that teaching them the value of experimentation and patience are the  most important lessons in the way I coach them in digital photography basics. More often than not, it's the thought behind the shot that counts - not any technical perfection.

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