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Teach Photography To Children

Updated on December 14, 2013

Photographers Are Not Born, They Are Developed

(Pun intended)

Start 'em young. Your young photographer will grow faster and better with some training.

The good news is that the kids of today will easily learn the techy part because that part is totally natural to them. It's the artistic part that they need some direction with.

The key is to get children thinking about taking pictures, and doing it with the intent of getting a good shot. It is the thought process that will move them in the direction of getting better. If they are intentional and consistent, they will improve without even knowing it.

Kids love photography (most of them do, anyway) and directing them will help them AND you, because it's true that teaching a subject makes the teacher a better learner. So, have fun as you teach children to become photographers.

Choosing A Camera

It's not so hard finding a good camera these days. Most manufacturers are making digital cameras that are more user friendly and that capture better images.

If you are a fan of a particular brand, look there first. After all, you will undoubtedly be teaching, or at least helping, the child along the path to becoming better at the craft of photography.

There are some cameras listed in this article that have proven to be quite popular with online buyers. You can't go wrong with one of them.

But, keep in mind that you probably don't want to "over buy" before you know whether the child or children you are working with will be diligent and make your investment value by following through with their new hobby.

Once they have shown that they will truly use the equipment you are entrusting them with, you will want to consider helping them to get a better camera. I personally suggest that you allow them to help with this purchase so they will see the value of the camera. Yes, I am "old school" - it works.

If you are a new camera buyer, stick to the list of cameras below.

Considering a Digital SLR?

Before making the investment in a more advanced DSLR camera, think about all aspects. Yes, the camera will be better, but there are other things to consider. Lenses, for instance, can cost as much or more than the camera itself. Then there is the size of the camera - it is much larger than a point and shoot camera. A camera bag with accessories will almost be a necessity with a DSLR.

Personally, I would wait until the child shows a real aptitude and desire for taking pictures before investing in a digital SLR. If that develops, I would go "all in" and buy (or help to buy) a semi-professional camera. Here is a list of the Top 5 DSLR Cameras for Beginners.

Image from Microsoft Office Image Gallery

Excellent Cameras For Kids - It's so much easier for kids to learn photography if they have good tools.

Panasonic DMC-FH25K 16.1MP Digital Camera with 8x Wide Angle Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7 inch LCD (Black) (OLD MODEL)
Panasonic DMC-FH25K 16.1MP Digital Camera with 8x Wide Angle Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7 inch LCD (Black) (OLD MODEL)

Panasonic, while not the most widely talked about name in cameras, has developed some excellent compact cameras. This one is a great starter camera that is extremely user friendly.

 
Canon PowerShot A2300 16.0 MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoom (Blue) (OLD MODEL)
Canon PowerShot A2300 16.0 MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoom (Blue) (OLD MODEL)

The Canon PowerShot lineup offers a wide variety of cameras. This is one of the most popular family cameras in that lineup.

 
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 20x Image Stabilized Zoom 25mm Wide-Angle Optical Lens and 1080p HD Video (Red) (OLD MODEL)
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 20x Image Stabilized Zoom 25mm Wide-Angle Optical Lens and 1080p HD Video (Red) (OLD MODEL)

A little more sophisticated, this PowerShot also has more features, which translates into benefits for beginning photographers who want to grow into the craft. A bit more on the cost, but the new photographer will not outgrow it as fast if this becomes a significant hobby.

 
Simple Is Best
Simple Is Best

Stick To The Basics

Don't Overwhelm With Photography Knowledge

The New York School of Photography may be in the child's future, but leave the really high brow photography teaching to them. Your best method is to get them totally sold on just how rewarding photography can be. Make the learning experience easy and fun, and don't frustrate children with too much information (TMI).

There are three techniques you can teach kids that will increase their ability and add interest to their pictures.

#1 Take Sharp Pictures

The number one reason for poor images is camera technique. Teach children how to hold the camera and how to press the shutter button and you will increase the number of sharp pictures taken exponentially.

How to press the shutter button: the correct way to take a picture is to press the shutter half-way and allow the camera to set the focus. Usually there will be a sound when the camera has focused. Then the shutter button is pressed the rest of the way to record the image. This takes practice, but it is well worth the effort.

How to hold the camera: most cameras that children will be using have an LCD screen where the photo is composed. This necessitates holding the camera out in front so one can see that screen. The proper way to do this is to hold the elbows against the body to reduce camera shake. Elbows should not be held out away from the body.

Another method of steadying the camera is to hold it against something solid like a tree or a door frame. Tripods, mono-pods, tables, and even bean bags are also great ways to steady the camera.


Notice how the main subjects are about 1/3 of the way down from the top.

Rule Of Thirds

There is a tendency in almost all children (and adults too) to try to get the subject of the photograph right in the center of the picture. However, the Rule of Thirds suggests that the subject should be off-center and placed at a point that would create a grid of lines dividing the picture into 9 sections. The intersections are the "third" points of the image. This definitely creates more interest in the picture (most of the time).

There are always times when following this rule is not necessary, but if you teach children this #1 rule of photography, they will be well on their way to improving their photos.


Getting down on the same level as the dogs really improved this shot from the original.

Take Pictures From Different Perspectives

Most of us, when starting out as photographers, tend to stand in front of the subject and start shooting away. Usually we take the picture because we see an interesting subject, but when we finally see the resulting images, they are not all that impressive.

One way to tremendously improve the interest of kids' pictures is to teach them about changing their position. Getting down low totally changes the outcome of a photo. Moving higher may also help. Another technique is to move to a position that improves the background of the subject by either removing distracting objects or adding an interesting object.

Books To Help Kids Get Excited and Stay Excited About Learning Photography

Photojojo!: Insanely Great  Photo Projects and DIY Ideas
Photojojo!: Insanely Great Photo Projects and DIY Ideas

This book focuses on creative ideas - ways to use the pictures you take with your digital camera. It will keep kids interested in their new hobby.

 
The Kids' Guide to Digital Photography: How to Shoot, Save, Play with & Print Your Digital Photos
The Kids' Guide to Digital Photography: How to Shoot, Save, Play with & Print Your Digital Photos

Kids learn not only about taking pictures, but how to create interesting projects with their new photos.

 
4-H Guide to Digital Photography
4-H Guide to Digital Photography

Yes, it's written with 4-H kids in mind, but the concepts are good for almost any photography idea.

 

Types Of Photos To Capture Interest Of Kids In Photography

You know what kinds of pictures really capture your eye, right? For instance, I am drawn to nature photography. A picture of the intricate markings of the inside of a flower will stop me dead in my tracks, and I'm sure you have your favorites too.

Kids are no different. They may not have identified the kind of pictures that interest them yet, but that is part of the journey. Work with them to figure out what it is they like to take pictures of. Then help them do it.


Help children set up the shot - they will have so much fun taking pictures like this.

Have you heard of selfies? These are simply self portraits, and tons of kids are totally enamored with their own image. You can use this as a tool to teach. It is actually a great way to teach things like composition and camera settings (10 second timer, for instance).

Some children will love taking pictures of their pets. Others will enjoy snapping photos of family and friends. And, yes, there are kids who absolutely love taking landscape and nature close-ups.

Explore these types of photos with the children you are working with, and it will make the job of teaching kids photography much easier and more rewarding.

Tennis Shoes - photography assignment
Tennis Shoes - photography assignment

Assignments That Help Children Learn Photography

When photographers are wondering what their next shoot is going to entail, they often visit photography web sites that have contests and assignments. You can do the same for the child geniuses you are helping to develop.

If kids get bored with their camera, it will end up lost and forgotten, and many of them don't have the initiative to create their own assignments. So help them along.

Here are a few assignments to help you get started.

  • Shoot rocks
  • Shoot eyes
  • How about something blue, or - chose a color?
  • Shoes of all kinds
  • Water
  • Dirt
  • Bugs

And once the assignments are started, encourage the kids to use the subject as merely the beginning of a creative thought process. They can totally brainstorm with family, friends, and photo buddies to come up with ideas that will be much more creative, but they will blow you away, because you had no idea yourself what could be done with the subject.

Try giving assignments. It will pay dividends, for sure.

Check out the assignments at these web sites: FredMiranda.com, DigitalPhotographySchool.com, and dpReview.com. You may have to register and/or look into the forums for the assignments, but it will be worth the extra effort.

kids family photo
kids family photo

When Kids Should Take Pictures

Better yet, when shouldn't they take pictures?

Do you still remember how to ride a bike? Silly question, right? Well, the more you rode your bike, the easier it was, and pretty soon, you probably were riding with no hands.

The same is true with any endeavor. The more kids practice and use their photography skills, the better they will get at it.

An interested child photographer should carry a camera with them most of the time. Not only will they get better at the craft of photography, but they will learn personal responsibility as they care for their camera and protect it.

Of course, it is best to hold children accountable for their property. If they lose or damage the camera, it should not be taken lightly. Don't just buy them another camera. Help them to learn and earn. The more highly they think of their equipment, the more they will take care of it, and if they know that another camera will be handed to them if something happens to the one they have, it will not mean much to them at all.

Your comments are welcome!!

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    • mrdata profile image

      mrdata 4 years ago

      Cool ideas for kids! Thanks and congrats for your TOD!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      Great ideas and suggestions.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I loved having a camera as a child, it would have been great way back then to have some lessons. :)

    • Wayne Rasku profile image
      Author

      Wayne Rasku 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Tipi, I know what you mean. These days, the learning is at the tip of your mouse finger, for adults and kids.

    • Wayne Rasku profile image
      Author

      Wayne Rasku 4 years ago

      @mrdata: Thank you, mrdata.

    • Wayne Rasku profile image
      Author

      Wayne Rasku 4 years ago

      @RinchenChodron: RinchenChodron, I appreciate your vote of confidence.

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 4 years ago

      Photography is one of the best ways to keep memories, especially when traveling. These are some great ideas for teaching children about taking photos.

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 4 years ago from Ireland

      Children now have photo opportunities at their fingertips with their amazing digital phones that have super high resolution cameras inside. And more to the point, they can take as many as they like for free, unlike with the old film cameras!

    • Wayne Rasku profile image
      Author

      Wayne Rasku 4 years ago

      @rob-hemphill: Hey Rob, this is so true. And most of the kids I deal with are taking pictures all the time with their phones, but only a few of those kids get really good photos. My "job" is to train them to be better photographers, whether they use a phone or a digital camera. Teaching kids something they really like is quite fun.

    • GetPhotographic profile image

      GetPhotographic 3 years ago

      They are like sponges when they are interested and can pick up so quickly on what to look for, how to see. I had my first camera when I was 8 but never had enough money to buy as much film (and develop it!) as I would have liked! Ah, to have had a camera that didn't need film.

      And I still like taking pictures of "dirt".

    • AssignmentExpert profile image

      David Walker 2 years ago from 639 Freshwater Rd, Melbourne VIC, Australia 3006

      Middle school students are expected to be more independent with school assignments, meaning that they need to know what is due and when, bring home appropriate supplies, and then get the work turned back in to the proper teacher on time. Helping your middle school child become more organized can set the stage for greater success.

      http://assignmentfirm.com

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