Photography is a great hobby for kids to get involved with. It’s never been easier to take pictures, with even the most basic smartphone offering decent picture-taking ability. Kids love to be creative, and photography is something that everyone can try. Here are some tips to consider if you’re thinking of trying it out with your own child.
1. Choose a camera
Children are not known for being ultra-cautious, so it’s best if you can give them a camera you’re not particularly attached to, such as an old one - or phone - you don’t use any more. Alternatively, you could buy one of the best camera for kids which have been designed with children in mind and are suitably tough (and simple to use). For example, the Nikon Coolpix W150 (opens in new tab). A neck or wrist strap is ideal for clumsy kids, so don’t forget to attach one of those to the camera.
2. Stick with Auto mode (at least at first)
Kids don’t need to be bogged down in the complicated settings that many cameras offer, especially if they are younger children. Put the camera you give them into auto mode and encourage them to look for subjects, themes and to think about how they might frame or compose their images instead.
3. Start with easy subjects
Encourage your children to point the camera at the things they care about most - so that’s probably family, friends, and pets. Feeling a connection with the subject is always useful, and is particularly so for children who are just starting out. Once they’ve started to get the hang of it, you could move on to setting specific challenges for them, such as “photograph things beginning with A” or “photograph things which are yellow” and so on.
4. Ignore the rules
As adults, we tend to stick to commonly-held photographic rules for composition, but creativity is far more important - especially for kids. Encourage them to shoot from whatever perspective they like, including whatever they like in the frame and so on. Don’t worry about chopped off heads, wonky angles and strange viewpoints - it’s all part of the learning process.
5. Straight shooting
That said, a quick and simple way to improve anybody’s photography is to keep things level. If the camera or phone your child is using has an inbuilt level - switch it on and show your child how holding the camera straight instantly improves their shots (most of the time).
6. Secure grip
Holding the camera is another key skill, especially for younger children. Teach them to hold it as securely and firmly as possible - not only will they be less likely to drop it, but they’ll also be rewarded with less blurry shots. You might also want to consider a cheap, small or portable tripod if you want to kick things up a notch.
7. Invest in spare memory and battery cards
Nobody would expect a child to exercise good “power management” techniques, so if you’re using a traditional camera, an extra battery that is fully powered up and ready to swap out is a good idea. It’s also a good idea to choose a reasonably large capacity memory card (32GB minimum) so that your kids can keep snapping away for as long as they like.
8. Simple rules
For older kids who are looking to elevate their photography, you can start to introduce some simple composition rules once they’ve got the hang of how to use the camera. Basic tips include getting closer to the subject to fill the frame, and to try sticking to the rule of thirds. Try Googling basic photography tips to go through together with your child.
9. Discuss the images
Don’t let your children’s photos sit languishing on a memory card or hard drive. Get them off the camera and on to a computer and sit down with them to go through the shots they’ve captured. Tell them what you liked about their shots - and ask them what they like too. Try and keep as positive as possible, while making alternative suggestions for them to try out next time.
10. Print your shots
Having a tactile object to hold in your hand is one of the most rewarding things about photography - especially for kids who can feel proud of their achievements. Select their best work for printing and show off what they have created. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a fine art print, the best home printers can do a great job, or you could try something fun like a portable Instax printer for printing their shots on the go.
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