Update: Check out our new eBook – CLICK! How to Take Beautiful Photos of Your Children
Photography is a great interest to share with your children. Or any children, for that matter. For parents the joy of interesting kids in photography can either be a challenge or a delight. Often children will mimic their parents and pickup whatever hobbies their parents have. Or at least try them out. That’s when it’s a delight; when you spy your daughter eying your camera, curious how it works. On the flip side of the coin, a hobby taking over family time can often turn children off to what might have been a fun experience to share together. That’s when it can become a challenge.
As a parent you have a unique opportunity to motivate your children in particular paths. Some might even call it brainwashing and to some extent it is. Kids learn primarily from their parents (in the beginning) and the examples the parents portray is often what a child sets as their own ideal. If you are a parent and wish to interest you child(ren) in photography, I have a few suggestions from my own experience and from speaking with other photography parents.
Make It Available
The number one way to help kids be interested in photography is to make it available to them. You have a fancy camera, maybe, and it’s hard to hand that over to a two year old who can, at times, break down and start a barrage of toys flying across the room. It’s best to wait until you are sure equipment won’t be smashed to smithereens before just handing over a camera. In the mean time, there are a number of age relevant digital photo options, such as the Fisher Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera and Diego Npower Flash Jr. Rugged Digital Camera for those six and under.
As your child ages and seems more responsible and coordinated, you can move into more and more useful cameras. When my daughter was five I handed her my aging Canon SD630 and let her walk around a party with it. She got very excited, walked around taking pictures from her perspective and was walking back towards me to show her prized photos when she stumbled and dropped the camera, breaking it (while noting that the pictures were still safe on the card and we did view them later). It was against this backdrop which I was choosing a camera for her three years later for a trip to Africa. By that time she had shown the ability to handle my Canon 7D without dropping it and overall understanding of the value of certain things, which made me more comfortable purchasing her a nicer Point and Shoot for the trip.
As a parent, you will know best when your child starts to move into a more responsible age range and can handle a slightly nicer camera than the introduction models noted above. Just having a camera around, that is all theirs to use, will make a big difference in their adoption of the art. And as a parent, don’t be amazed if the camera is ogled over for two days and then left on the floor for a month.
Make It Easy
Start with cameras that are easy. Super easy. Point and shoot and see the image on the back. That is what most kids want from the one year old range on up. Don’t worry too much about downloading to a computer (unless your child really shows interest) or printing for a while. Let them get used to the simplicity of hitting a button and freezing time on the screen of whatever might be of interest.
Do Cool Stuff
When photography gets to be more commonplace with your child and they pick up the camera more often, start planning some cool outings. Think like a kid in this case. It can be something as simple as taking photos of cool stuff in the garage or a walk around the house. Or it can be as structured as a scavenger hunt with a list of objects to shoot. Make it fun and lighthearted to help that part of photography (a part many of us often forget) sink in at a young age. Be spontanious, “Ok, grab your camera. We’re heading to the park to see how many dog pictures we can capture!” Keep play and excitement in the frame and you are sure to help keep your child hooked on photography.
Ignore The Rules
We spend our adult years learning so many rules and photography is no different. Heck, it’s even called the Rule Of Thirds. Take all those rules, some of which automatically kick in when shooting, and throw them out the window when it comes to photography with your younger child (while noting that older kids will be ready to start learning some photography rules). Their composition or lighting or angle may not be the best you’ve ever seen, but so what? If they take a photo and smile while showing you, you’re on the right track
Show And Tell
Lastly, around the ages of 5-7, your child will start to develop more cognition to appreciate a photo and want to break it down. It’s that, “How did they do that?” age and it’s a great time to explain, in brief, what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how you’re doing it. Be it in the computer or behind the lens. My daughter loves to sit on my lap as I go through photos (for a while, until something else catches her eye). I will show her some simple edits I’m making to photos and quickly explain what the contrast slider does or how to change levels. Making it fun, I will grossly exaggerate the effect, such as saturation to which she responds, “Whoa, that’s REALLY saturated!” It’s easy, it’s fun and she starts learning about photography elements bit by bit.
You are a great resource to help your children get interested in photography if it is your hobby. You know your child better than I do when it comes to the level of pushing and prodding they can take before they rebel and I hope some of the ideas listed here help you find common ground to spark their interest without pushing them away from photography. Photography is a fun and wonderful interests to share with your child or children and I wish you good luck in opening their eyes to the art and excitement it entails.
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