Children seem to have a natural affinity for photography. They gravitate towards cameras and if given half a chance, will grab it and take shots of various mediums. Both my kids love nothing more than pointing and shooting. I’m lucky that they seem to have a good eye so other than the occasional bizarre selfie, their images are usually pretty good. However, I have thought that a little technical support could see their images become amazing. So what is the easiest way to teach your kids photography?
Start with Good Tools
Over the years I have bought the kids cameras geared for kids. These have been used as a toy for a few hours before the requests resumed to use my camera. For us, they were a waste of money. So last Christmas we made the decision to invest in a good quality, robust camera (we chose an Olympus from the Tough series) that the kids could learn to use whilst also having it as a family back up camera for the beach. Of course, I promised the kids that once they showed that they could look after it they could, perhaps, graduate to an even better camera.
The provision of a good camera has seen the kids skill at photography grow and grow, whilst also maintaining their interest in capturing moments on camera. It seems their obsession to collect moments in images is not a passing phase!
Recently I’ve let the kids put their hands on my pride and joy, the Olympus PEN E-PL8. What has been most surprising is their ability to innately find creative opportunities to snap.
All images beyond this point have been shot by Sunshine, aged 8.
Make It Easy
Taking photos doesn’t need to be hard. There’s no need to fuss over shutter speeds, aperture and all that other stuff that professional photographers gush about when your kids are starting out. Setting your camera on automatic and simply doing point and shoot is the best way to get them involved.
Talk to your kids about getting up and close to what their shooting, or encourage them to find interesting angles, unique perspectives. The crux of photography is perspective, and through your careful coaching you can assist your kids to see life through a variety of lenses (both figuratively and literally).
Fill the Frame
Rather than teaching your kids about the rule of thirds in photography, encourage them to fill the frame. It’s easier to understand and will leave them creating stunning, detailed shots. By stepping in closer, and filling the frame your kids will make an instant impact to their shots.
The Rule of Thirds
Once they’ve mastered filling the frame you can move onto the more complex rule of thirds. While adults may find the concept easy to understand, I explained this rule to Sunshine with a simple analogy: Imagine a tic tac toe frame has been placed over your viewer. Now, you want your most interesting elements of what you’re photographing to be positioned on one of those lines or at a spot where they come together.
Of course, she needed a few visuals to understand my lesson, but once she could visualise it she was able to start implementing this basic principle with astounding results. Turns out she probably has a better eye than me!
Practice Practice Practice
We all know it, the best way to become good at something and then to get even better is to practice! Kids consolidate new knowledge quicker and much easier if they practice regularly. Better yet, if they’re loving the task they’ll quickly work towards becoming fluent in no time. Brilliant, right? You may be raising the next generation’s Annie Leibovitz or Ansel Adams!
Support and Teach Your Kids Photography
With any skill acquisition, support from family is one of the most crucial elements to success. Make sure you provide positive reinforcement when your kid is doing well. Take time to look through their images and ask questions. Draw on those old “wh” questions (what, who, when, where, why) you learned back in primary school yourself. They’re great prompts for discussion.
The Olympus PEN E-PL8 has become our go-to camera when we’re travelling or just capturing those everyday family shots. Click to find out more about the Olympus PEN E-PL8