Photography For Children – How To Get Started
Did you have a camera as a child?
I can still remember my first one. A black, rectangular 110mm film camera. Each of the long film rolls had 24 exposures, and after a family holiday my parents would send it off to have the film developed and printed….whilst I waited in anticipation of seeing the photos!
Today our children have access to photography from such a young age. They’re used to being photographed almost every day and seeing photos of themselves instantly. So when your child starts to express an interest in photography should you buy them a camera of their own, or let them use your phone? And how can you help them express their creativity?
In this guide we’ll look at how you can get your children started in photography. From choosing a camera, to helping them improve their composition, to printing and storing their new creations.
Choosing a camera for your child
One of the first questions you might have when your child becomes interested in taking photographs is whether you should buy them their own camera.
Initially, you may find that letting them use your phone camera is enough. After all, you already have it and will most likely have it with you when they want to try and take some photographs. They’re also incredibly intuitive for children to operate. If you don’t want to have your phone filled with your child’s pictures try downloading an app like First Camera which has an easy to use interface, and a limit on how many photographs it will store on your phone.
If you find that your child is really enjoying photography or using your phone very frequently, you may decide to buy them a camera of their own. Here you have three choices – a camera made specifically for young children such as the V-tech Kidizoom, a ‘point and shoot’ style compact camera or a DSLR. These obviously come at different price brackets, and whilst the Kidizoom is suitable for your pre-schooler, your teenager may want to learn more about the technical side of things and start with a DSLR.
The benefits of starting a younger child with a ‘made for children’ camera such as the Kidizoom is that these cameras tend to be difficult to break, and often have features to make them easier for children to hold and operate, as well as tools to make portraits more interesting. The downside of these cameras is that the photographs are unlikely to print as well as other cameras. As your children grow older and become more considered in their approach a compact camera or DSLR may be a better option.
Teaching your child about composition
At first you’ll probably find that your child wants to photograph anything and everything. The beauty of digital cameras is that you can take as many photographs as you like so I would encourage them to do this – you don’t have to keep them all, and you’ll probably find that your child’s photographs naturally improve the more that they practice.
As they grow older you can start by introducing simple compositional rules such as the rule of thirds, leading lines and filling the frame. As you introduce each one you can practice them together and discuss the photographs together afterwards as you look at what impact the rule has had. You can find my guide to the rule of thirds here.
You can also look at other people’s photographs and discuss them with your child to help them learn about composition – you could visit a gallery together or look through the photographs in newspapers and magazines. The Guardian and The Telegraph have online sections dedicated to photography which will give you lots of material to discuss!
Encourage Your Child’s Interest With Photography Projects
As your child learns more about taking photographs, they may enjoy trying some photography based activities or working on a photography project – whether it’s a quick one-hour game, or a project over the summer holidays.
A scavenger hunt can be a fun way to encourage your children to get creative with photography – provide your children with a list of things to photograph and a camera, and depending on their age you can either give them space to find the items on the list and create their photos, or work through the list with them. I have a full guide to setting up a photo scavenger hunt for your children here.
Your older child may also like to work on a longer-term project over a weekend or during the school holidays. I love the ‘photo an hour’ project where you take one photograph during every hour of the day to tell the story of your day. Alternatively you could ask your child to be in charge of documenting your weekend with photographs, or taking photographs to tell the story of your family holiday.
Archiving and storing your child’s photographs
Now that your child has created lots of photographs you may be wondering how to store them, and make more space on their memory cards.
It’s important to back-up all of the digital images, and I recommend keeping choose a minimum of two different places to back the photographs up. That way you have the peace of mind that if one fails, you’ll still have another copy of your child’s precious work elsewhere. You can find a complete guide to storing your digital photographs here.
I really encourage you to print the photographs too. Holding a photograph in your hands is very different to seeing it on screen, and your child may well feel very proud to see their works of art printed out!
You could frame a couple of your favourites, create a photo book filled with your child’s photography over the year. You could also take advantage of the ‘50 free prints’ offers that lots of the online printers have, and help your children put their photographs into a scrapbook where they can combine the photographs with writing and other arts to document their holiday, month or year.
Over to you
I hope you’ve found this guide to getting your children started with photography useful. What other questions do you have about photography for children. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know.