Before the advent of digital photography, children and cameras could be an expensive partnership. “Be careful before you push the button.” “Make sure to get grandma’s head in the picture too.” “Why did you take photos of your father’s nose hairs?”
Photo after photo of the cat hacking a hairball, the dog pooping in the back yard, and brothers in their underwear showed up when the film was finally developed. Thank goodness for digital photography. Before any photo is printed, those less that treasured shots can be deleted. That’s a good thing!
So today how do you get children excited to take pictures and help them learn to make memories they will want to keep?
How old is the child?
Unless your 3 year old is quite precocious, you may want to wait until the child is about 4 to begin with photography skills. Children age 4-7 will see photography differently from children age 8-10. By the age of 11, a child will begin to experience the rumblings of teenage years. ‘Selfies” will be more popular and monitoring more necessary.
Pick your equipment
Digital cameras are the way to go with kids today. There are lots of inexpensive and decent cameras available. Your child does not need to most expensive equipment. You child needs a decent camera. Are you ready to upgrade your iPhone or Android? Keep the one you no longer use, clear it off and give it to your child to use for photography! Tablets and iPads are good too, but can be a bit unwieldy in small hands.
Don’t use the disposable digitals with kids. They are a real waste of money. Your child needs to get comfortable with the feel, and the parameters of the camera device. Having their own will bring added pride to the project.
Other than attempts at enforcing civilized photos – see opening comments – try not to give too many “rules”.
- Keep it with you when you are using it.
- No photos of others without their okay.
- All photos uploaded to a computer file folder with their name, and said folder will be monitored by responsible adult.
There are many apps that allow a child to experiment with pictures before they are actually taking them. When really little ones use these apps, don’t do too much in the way of criticism or instruction. Let them figure out for themselves what works and what doesn’t. If left to explore a bit, children often have a better eye than we might believe.
They need to know how to hold the camera straight and steady when using. One or two blurry photos will help that concept to stick. Talk with your child about the photos they’ve taken. Tell them where your eye was drawn in the picture and ask if that’s what they intended. No? Then ask how they might take the photo again and help your eye to see what they intended in their photo.
Establish a “photo of the month” frame on the wall. Let the child choose each month one photo to go in the frame. Be sure to mat it and use good quality paper to print it. Your child will be proud and you will be encouraging a lifelong interest!