teaching kids photography

How to Teach Kids Photography?

Many parents try to entice their children into a new hobby so that they can stay away from gadgets for a while. Photography is the right instrument for you to communicate the beauty of the world to your child. Photography isn’t an expensive hobby. Sure, there are high-end cameras that cost thousands of dollars, but the initial stage of learning doesn’t need a flagship camera or one with a hefty price tag.

Besides, a professional camera is probably too heavy for a child to handle without someone’s assistance. Another benefit of photography is that it engages your kid in an activity that breaks the sedentary lifestyle. Unlike gaming on a smartphone that doesn’t require physical movement, photography requires them to stay active because they must get around to find good spots for taking good shots.

You can take them outdoors to explore what nature has to offer. Besides, it’s also a good way to reconnect with your little one, especially if you rarely spend long hours with them. Replacing the valuable time with luxury items isn’t a solution. It’s better to dedicate some of your time to sharing knowledge about photography. 

How to teach kids photography? If you know the basics of camera operation, you’re off to a good start.

How to teach kids photography

1. Buy a camera

Your child needs the proper equipment to start their photography journey. Their first camera doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You can upgrade it later as they gain new skills. A toy camera is pretty decent. It may lack sophisticated controls, but the essential ones are usually included.

Can a smartphone replace it? Yes, but a smartphone has a different hand feel. Remember that the teaching should contain learning material about gripping a camera. In this case, an actual camera definitely does a better job at providing a hands-on experience similar to that of a professional camera. Starting with an entry-level device, you can level up your kid’s gear in due course. Even a DSLR might fit the bill, although you’d need to be careful with the weight so as not to cause hand fatigue.

In terms of functionality, a DSLR is very reliable with its range of lenses, optical viewfinder, image stabilization, and other advanced features. An instant camera isn’t bad per se. It still has the advantage of having self-developing film to print photos immediately after they’re taken. Not only that, the absence of clunky controls is also beneficial to someone who’s beginning to learn about the fundamentals of camera use.

2. Teach how to hold the camera

A camera needs steadying to take sharper shots. Camera shake is a common occurrence in photography among amateurs. However, this problem can easily be overcome with time and practice. First, ask your child to activate the timer, which often comes as a staple feature. The delayed capture gives them enough time to lock onto the target and prevent motion blur.

While effective, they shouldn’t be heavily dependent on it. At the end of the day, dexterity in holding a camera is an important skill to master because that’s how pro shutterbugs do it most of the time. They use a timer under specific circumstances only. Another option to provide stability is mounting it on a tripod.

This accessory makes a big difference to landscape work because the 3 legs allow it to be in equilibrium. Just set it on the ground, stretch out the legs, and then adjust the weight and angle using the locking mechanism. Again, this is not obligatory. Even without it, you can steady a camera by keeping your elbow tucked in towards your torso.

Read also: Why Do Kids Need to Learn Photography?

3. Tell them the basic camera functions

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Understanding the controls of a camera is quite time-consuming. The higher the price, the more extensive the features are. Choosing a toy camera is a good decision because it has simple controls. But as they become more skilled, you can give them a more sophisticated camera. That’s when real learning begins, as they have to understand all the complex parameters, such as:

  • Exposure: exposure describes the amount of light that hits the sensor during the capturing process. The intensity will affect the image’s overall brightness. Luckily, cameras usually have auto-exposure to adjust the incoming light and produce well-lit photographs, neither too bright nor too dim. When a picture is overexposed, it will lose much detail since many of the areas will appear washed out. Conversely, an underexposed photo looks darker than the neutral exposure because the camera lets in an insufficient amount of light.
  • ISO is another photography parameter your kid should know. ISO was a governing body that provided the basis for sensitivity ratings in cameras. It was used to measure how sensitive film was to light, to which they gave an appropriate rating after the testing. When a film is highly sensitive, it takes a smaller amount of light to create a well-exposed picture. This standard is expressed in doubling numbers, with higher figures denoting higher degrees of sensitivity. In many cameras, the minimum value is set to ISO 100, which suggests low sensitivity. It gradually increases to ISO 200, 400, 800, etc. The upper limit depends on the camera type. Are higher ISO settings better? Not necessarily, because it can generate noise. It’s okay to raise the ISO, but not to the point where it causes visible grain and digital noise.
  • Aperture: if you’ve read a measurement written as an f-number, that’s what we call an aperture size. An aperture refers to the hole or opening of a camera lens. It’s made up of an array of blades, also known as a diaphragm. This opening regulates the amount of light that reaches the imaging sensor of a camera, much like how the pupil constricts or dilates in response to light. Aperture is closely linked to the depth of field. A lower f-stop translates into a bigger opening but, at the same time, a shallower depth of field. In other words, less of the frame will be in focus if you opt for this value. In comparison, a high f-stop yields a much sharper image.

Besides these, there are a few other fundamentals you need to teach your child, such as frame rate, white balance, focus modes, shutter speeds, etc.

Read Also: What to teach in a photography class

4. Start with the easier parts

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It can take hours to share your knowledge about all aspects of photography. If you’re a seasoned photographer yourself, there’s no need to disclose technical insights to a kid who’s starting to grow interested in this hobby. The worst scenario is that they may abruptly lose their spark if you keep feeding them information they find difficult to get their head around.

Your toddler is still young, and there’s a long process for them to attain complex skills. Just hold back on some subject materials and focus on simpler concepts that will leave them wanting more. The best way to start is by showing them interesting pictures and letting them use the camera however they want.

5. Photography composition rule

Understanding the basics of composition is also important to capturing a photo that’s aesthetically pleasing. There are many things that go into composing the perfect shot. While pushing the subject to the forefront is necessary, it’s not the only element that comprises the photo. Other complementary objects can also make or break the whole arrangement.

To achieve an appealing composition, you can apply the rule of thirds, which means breaking down a pic into 9 equal pieces. To form an asymmetrical visual weight, you can place subjects over points where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect. This would create a much nicer flow than positioning the main subject at the center. You can also use leading lines and other rules of composition to make the composition look better.

6. Hold their attention

Teaching a child with a short attention span proves to be difficult. They can get distracted by other things that they find more pleasurable. Maintaining their focus is crucial so that they can absorb the lessons that you deliver.

To avoid boredom, focus on the fun aspects first. Don’t go straight to the technicalities, but instead, show them photographs that evoke strong feelings and capture their gaze. You can also give them a camera with a unique form factor or a dash of festive colors.

7. How to capture the subject

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A photo can have many elements, but one should draw most of the attention. Without that one focal point, the viewer’s eyes will dart aimlessly trying to spot the most prominent figure. The lack of a point of interest will also make a picture look boring because there’s nothing to gravitate towards.

For this reason, teach your kid to accentuate the subject. There are many ways to do it, such as by getting closer to the subject, utilizing the zoom function, or playing with the depth of field.

Read Also: Photography Projects for Kids

8. Challenge them to be creative with their photos

A little bit of creative exploration doesn’t hurt when it comes to taking a photograph. After all, there are no fixed rules in photography. The guidelines serve more as additional inputs to help you capture a photo that’s eye-catching and tells a unique story. You can put your creativity into action to create artwork that represents who you are.

For example, try to let loose with the camerawork. Rather than following the rules on panning or rotating, just do it as you please. Another good example is to intentionally make the subject out of focus. Normally we’d want it to be in focus, but if you aim for a different artistic approach, just do it this way.

How do I start teaching photography?

People will trust you to be their teacher if you have the experience and expertise as a professional photographer. It takes time to reach this level, though. You can start by taking photography courses. The more classes you take, the more resourceful you’ll be.

You can also attend a photography school for proper training and to increase your knowledge. Once you’ve gained enough credibility, you can host your own workshop or become a tutor. Don’t forget to use the word-of-mouth strategy to reach as many people as possible and bring in more students.

Read Also: Best Photography Apps for Kids and Teens

Can kids do photography?

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As long as they have a polaroid camera and a drive, they can be a photographer, too. The real challenge is to get them excited because some are probably reluctant to learn something that’s too technical.

A toy camera should be their introduction to photography since it’s much more straightforward and not convoluted with stacks of controls. And then, show your support and appreciation for their photo results because it will keep them motivated.

What is photography explained to kids?

You can explain photography in simple words. Tell them that photography is the process of creating a photo by capturing light, which requires a specific device known as a camera.

As the teaching goes further, they’ll come across terms unfamiliar to them. Avoid using fancy words in describing the terminology because they make everything more complicated. Surely, there’s a simple way to articulate your thoughts.

Wrap up

Does one have to be a seasoned photographer to know how to teach kids photography? Nope, it’s not a requirement to take a class before sharing photography knowledge with your little one. However, it should be noted that a course doesn’t just explain the mechanics of a camera and its operation. It also touches on important lessons that you may not get if you decide to acquire knowledge on your own initiative.

Added to that, photography also branches into subcategories like portraiture, landscape, architectural, etc., which makes taking a class become important. For a kid who’s just starting to figure out how a camera works, the need for formal training is probably not too urgent. But if you still want to enroll your kid in a photography class, choose one that suits their age.

There are several options. You can meet the teacher in person or book an online course. Both have benefits and drawbacks. An in-person class allows for more spontaneous interaction, while a virtual course can be conducted from a remote location. In the second option, the teacher doesn’t have to be there in person if distance is a big problem.

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