Tips and Info

Tips for Introducing Your Kids to Photography

Header Photo: An out-of-focus portrait of me taken by my 3-year-old on my digital camera

Children are naturally curious—about everything. Walter is three, and my Google search history is full of things like, “When do bats hibernate?” and “How does bacteria leave your body after the antibiotic kills it?” In my experience, photography is no exception. Even my 18-month-old likes to use my phone’s camera to take multiple pictures of her own forehead, or the floor, or someone’s knee. My children obviously see me using my camera and want to mimic me, but I think it’s natural for any kid to be interested in taking pictures.

In my previous post, I talked about some great reasons to introduce your kids to photography. This is a post with some tips about how to teach them the basics so they can explore and learn more on their own.

Encouraging little photographers

The best way to get kids to explore photography is to put a camera—any camera, really—in their hands and just let them experiment. When they’re young photography novices, you don’t need to teach them to take “good” pictures. Kids can get overwhelmed by too many “tips” and lose interest in an activity that’s supposed to be fun and creative. There are a few simple things you can work on with your kids to help them start acting and thinking like the little photographers they are.

How to use the camera safely

This is probably common sense, but it is important to make sure your child knows how to use their camera (or whatever device they’re using) and how to take care of it. At the very least, they’ll need to know which button takes a picture, and ideally how to turn the camera on and off. 

It’s also important to show your kids how to take good care of their photography equipment. For example, my 3-year-old has to wear the strap around his neck when he’s using his camera, he’s careful not to drop it, and he knows to keep it away from water. Depending on the ages of your kids, they could also be responsible for replacing or charging the camera’s batteries.

Think of a subject before you take a picture

This is the biggest thing I’m working on with Walter, especially when I let him take a picture on one of my film cameras. Thinking before taking a picture (or doing anything, really) is an exercise in impulse control. It also makes photography a deliberate, creative activity that involves their brain and it helps them learn that there’s more to taking pictures than just pressing a button. Pushing buttons is fun, of course. (Who doesn’t love pushing a button??) But the fun of photography is in the process of coming up with an idea, executing it, and seeing the finished product.

When to use flash

This is a very basic skill that will get kids thinking about the camera’s settings and how they affect the way pictures turn out. Some cameras will turn the flash on or off automatically, but on others (or in certain settings) you have to do it manually. You can help your kids think about this if they’re younger, and older kids will probably be able to figure out on their own whether they need to use flash or not. Is the room dark? Use flash! Are we outside in the sunlight? No flash. It’s a great place to start.

Try it!

Give your kids a chance to take their own pictures, if they haven’t already had the opportunity. See what they come up with! A photo scavenger hunt is a great place to start to make a game out of it. You can find photo scavenger hunts online, or you can subscribe to my newsletter to get a list of ideas from me!

In my next posts I’ll be sharing some ideas for some cameras to look at if you want to get your kids their very own photography equipment.

  • Kids’ Cameras
  • Digital Point-and-Shoots
  • Film Cameras

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