I am a new photographer. What I appreciate most about learning photography is teaching photography to my sons. More often than not, my sons are teaching photography me. You see, one thing I have learned over the past few years is that photography is not simply learning how to use a camera, it is an art about perspective and it is about telling a story.
This past weekend I went away with my family. We traveled to a beautiful beach. I prepared myself to photograph this striking place with my sons and husband. Alas when I arrived to our camping spot, I realized my camera lacked a card. I was out of luck in this rural location. I sulked for maybe thirty seconds then moved on. As the weekend passes by me, It occurred to me that this ‘problem' was a blessing. Not only was I able to truly be present with my family (forget about iPhone reception), I had days to reflect on what photography means to me.
My journey with photography began a few short years ago. Over time I've educated myself on a variety of topics related to taking photos. Most recently my four and six year old have expressed great interest in truly learning the art of taking photos. Of course, learning myself and guiding my sons fits perfectly with Montessori philosophy. So, together, we are learning. Below are a few thoughts on how to teach kids photography.
Easy Way to Teach Kids Photography
Storytelling with Pictures
As I thought more about the art of photography I began to understand that it is about telling a story. Not only does this approach help shape a child's learning of photography, it helps develop comprehension. What is this photo saying? What do you want your image to reveal? Asking these questions to yourself and your young children is helpful.
Perspective & Viewpoint
A defining moment for me recently was when I gave my Canon Rebel T3i camera (yes, my nice expensive one) to my four year old. Not only is his intuition with composition spot on, his perspective (physically and figuratively on the world) is one that I rarely spend time “in”. So, to view his pictures (like these unedited images below) is eye opening in many ways.
Experimenting with Photos
This one is fun. Encourage your child to experiment with different settings, colors, filters, perspectives, and so on.
Making Mistakes is Part of the Game
Taking a bad photo and trying to understand what was off is a big part of photography. Accepting and embracing mistakes as a part of the learning process is a critical lesson.
Learn about the Camera
Introduce the parts of a camera, demonstrate how to use, and give opportunities using a “real camera” to your children. No toy cameras or cameras marketed for kids' use. The education piece is important because the more a child understand how something works, like a seed growing into a plant for example, he will appreciate it more and take better care of it.
So, don't just hand them the camera and say “Good luck exploring!” Until I have a moment to create my own nomenclature cards, I'll be relying on this straightforward list of 10 camera parts with definitions and my manual. You can even make a pinhole camera with kids to truly get the science and engineering learning.
Go to your local library and peruse photography books. (This photography book is one of my favorites.) Talk about the artist, his or her photos, and the life. I made the Famous Photographers cards if you're interested in downloading them for free. Choose photos you or you're child have taken and frame these photos for display.
Be in touch!
For more ideas check out these articles on How to Teach a Kid about Photography.