How to Get Started Teaching Kids About Photography
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How to Get Started Teaching Kids About Photography

If your kids have grown up watching you take pictures, naturally at some point they’re likely going to want to use a camera too. Teaching photography to kids however, is a bit different than teaching adults.

After spending 10 years in elementary schools, teaching technology (and photography!) to kids ages 5-10, I’ve learned that the most important thing you can show kids is how to make photography FUN!

A camera is inherently engaging, especially with the instant feedback we’re given from mobile devices, digital point-and-shoots, or polaroid film. But if you’re looking to make taking pictures with your kids both informative and fun, here are some of my favorite tips for getting started teaching photography to your kids.

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  • No.
    01
    Get them excited and engaged.

    The camera itself is an engaging tool, but how else can you set the stage for learning? My 5 year old absolutely LOVES books, and reading a photography themed story, before even picking up a camera, sets the tone before we head out to shoot together. I wrote “Phoebe The Photographer” to inspire a love of photography in both kids and adults, and it’s a great way to get your kids excited to learn!

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  • No.
    02
    Give kids a sense of ownership

    Get them their own camera if you can. If your kids are younger, don’t spend a ton of money on a digital camera, and don’t worry too much about quality. It will give you peace of mind that if the camera drops, or if their sticky fingers streak the glass on the lens, it’s not a big issue.

    Film cameras can be a great way to teach responsibility as well! Give them a Fuji Instax camera + pack of film, and place limits on the number of photos they are allowed to take on a given outing. Your kids will beam with pride that they have their own equipment, and will be more careful and respectful of the limitations. It also means that when you go out and shoot, you can each bring your own cameras and shoot together!

  • No.
    03
    Let them lead

    Allow your kids to express interest in where they want to go, or what they want to capture. Yes, they may decide to take a million selfies with your mobile phone, or they may want to stick to snapping photos of their stuffed toys in the darkest rooms in the house, or they may focus in on the one wilting flower in your garden. But there is a vision they’re holding in those images, and it’s important to allow their creative visions to be realized.

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  • No.
    04
    Teach the technical basics through games

    Depending on the age of your kids, they may be ready to learn some technical basics. At 5, my daughter is starting to learn a little about light, composition, and editing.

    One of my favorite games to play with her, when it comes to composition, is one called Zoom In, Zoom Out. For the game, I encourage her to talk a walk around our house or yard. She takes two photos: one up close, the other a pull back.

    I show her tips on how to focus the close up shot (don’t get too close!), and holding the camera steady. When she completes her mission, my job is to look at her close up shot, to see if I can guess what it is she photographed. The pull back shot allows her to reveal the answer!

  • No.
    05
    Encourage self-reflection

    After going on a photo walk, sit down with your child and look at their photos. Better yet, get the photos printed and look through the prints together. Ask your child which photos they liked the best and why. Hearing their perspective will open up richer conversations about composition, light, and focus, and allow you to teach them why they may like or dislike certain photos over others.

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  • No.
    06
    Display their work

    The printing process can be mundane and overwhelming, so finding buddies to help you stay accountable, and make the commitment to yourself and your family is key. Which is precisely why I created my own support network. You’re invited to join me for the Embrace 3 Day Photo Printing Challenge. We’ll work together to get a simple project off your device and into your life for good. Because in the end perfect pictures are printed ones.

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Which of these tips will you try first? Looking for some more Photo Activities to try with your kiddos? Download the “Click! A ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Guide For Kids With Cameras” is a completely free resource I’ve created, where you can download 5 fun photography activities you can do today with your kids.

Read more: Photography for Kids

2 Comments
  • Eliza
    May 16, 2016 at 11:31 AM

    Great tips! I don’t have kids but I have 11yo niece and I teach her photography. She uses only manual modę! I like the idea with close up and pull back. Printing and disscussing pictures is great idea. I’m going to try it. I believe I can learn something from this too and understand world through her eyes :-)

  • Susan
    May 16, 2016 at 4:26 PM

    I love this! My 9 year old son is interested in photography. He uses our old point-and-shoot to take what he considers creative photographs. And he’s creative in his thought process! He does want to use my camera, which may be his when I get a new one. Would you recommend a child just using a camera phone? They can be pretty much the same as a point-and-shoot (at least the one I have.)

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