Using photography to help children appreciate our earth
Behind the lens, the world becomes a canvas – and all we have to do is find ways to capture the scenes. As photographers, we become more observant, more curious, more contemplative.
Teaching our children to look at the world with the eye of an artist helps them to look deeper and become more appreciate of the beauty – and damage – before them.
Are your children asking to borrow your camera? Are they grabbing your iPhone to click a picture?
Capitalizing on your child’s budding interest in taking photos can be a wonderful opportunity to help them learn more about nature – and of course introduce them to the incredible world of photography!
Where to start?
It may seem daunting – how does one teach a child the skill of photography, especially if you aren’t already a photographer?
Fortunately we live in a digital age – and photography has never been more accessible!
Here are 3 tips to get your child started taking photos:
1. Provide your child with a user-friendly digital camera that has an auto setting, and is equipped with a zoom lens.
You can choose a point and shoot camera or even an entry-level DSLR for a child who is responsible and old enough to take care of it. DSLRs also have auto settings, so a basic, light weight DSLR is can actually be a reasonable option for an older child if your budget allows.
I recommend providing a camera with a zoom lens. This will give your child the added creative freedom and excitement of changing their focal length and working on composition. (Of course, using a fixed lens is another creative challenge that they will want to tackle one day too!)
I remember the first camera my dad gave me when I was a teenager. It was a high quality point and shoot with a zoom lens. I fell in love with photography with that camera on a trip to Prince Edward Island. The beautiful landscape was perfect for me to practice composing shots. When my dad saw my photos and praised me for my good eye, it meant the world to me.
Several years later, when he died, I inherited his Canon EOS SLR and lenses. It was before the Digital SLRs were available and so I “cut my teeth” on that film SLR, shooting my son’s first three years of life with my dad’s camera.
2. Teach your child the basics – and no worries, the internet can help!
The art and skill of photography takes a lifetime to learn. But everyone needs to start somewhere! It is amazing how a few basic concepts can radically improve anybody’s photos – even a child’s!
Teaching your child photography tips like “The Rule of Thirds,” getting in close, and checking their backgrounds, can empower them and help them to surprise you with their shots!
Digital Photography School.com has a great post about lessons to teach your child about digital photography. It also links to more of their posts that explain the concepts in greater detail which is perfect for an older child or teenager or for you to read and teach them. http://www.digital-photography-school.com/13-lessons-to-teach-your-child-about-digital-photography
3. Let them shoot – and then review the shots with them later
The best way for all of us to improve as photographers is through trial and error. We need to shoot hundreds of shots to get a few that turn out the way we want them to. And the more we experiment, the more we learn.
So encourage your child to get shooting. Remind them that everything from a flower, to an old bridge, to a dirty shoe can be their subject. They are the storytellers and they can tell whatever stories they want to.
Take your child out into nature, on hikes or to parks – wherever you can find for your child to explore with their camera.
When it is time to download the photos and choose what to print, if your child wants you to, sit down with them and talk about the photos together. Listen to your child about what they were trying to achieve and offer encouragement and feedback.
Then celebrate their shots by allowing them to print their favorite photos and make albums for themselves and family members, or even print photo books online.
I am so grateful that my father provided me with cameras and passed on his love of photography to me.
When I have my camera with me I am never bored. Looking at the world through the lens allows me to slow down and look for beauty – and I always can find it somewhere. My camera helps me appreciate, even more, the world around me.
YOUR TURN: Do your children like to take photos? Has it been hard for you to “hand over the camera?” If you are a photographer, how old were you when you first picked up a camera?
Photos by Janice Croze