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Category: Character
Category: Education
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Category: Leisure

Teach Your Child How to Take Good Pictures

There is something magic about capturing an image, some small piece of reality, and turning it into an artifact of one moment in time. Children and adults alike love to get behind a camera and start clicking. But in order to make the photo good enough to honor that moment in time, some knowledge and practice is needed.

Teaching your child to take good photos does not require fancy equipment or a great deal of time. You will, however, need a camera and lots of patience.

Many people have made the switch to digital photography and for good reasons. It’s cheaper, you can take more pictures, and save or print only those worthy of keeping. Digital photos are easy to store and to send to friends and relatives. Certainly, going digital cuts out the cost and inconvenience of developing your pictures.

Lots of folks still use film and a traditional camera, especially for teaching their little ones the basics of photography. And there are those who would never forsake the mystery and excitement of the darkroom for the speed and convenience of digital.

But whatever you use you will be teaching your child a valuable skill that will provide a lifetime of joy and memories.


Young children love to be on both sides of the camera. Many of us who are now parents can remember our first Fisher Price cameras! (They still make one! The “Kid-Tough” digital camera that is drop-proof! Children as young as two can successfully use this camera.)

If your child seems to be determined to be the photographer, it is best to get them their own camera. What kind you select will depend on these factors:

  • What the camera will be used for
  • How much you want to spend
  • The age of your youngster
  • What features you’ll need
  • Whether you want to go digital or not

You’ll want to do an Internet search first, perhaps read a few reviews, and talk to other parents that have purchased one recently. At this age a camera made just for kids will probably be the wisest choice and produce pictures good enough to put up on the screen and email to Grandma and Grandpa. Hewlett Packard has some tips for parents when selecting a digital camera. Make sure it:

  • Is small enough to hold easily
  • Has fully automatic settings
  • Can turn itself off
  • Is simple to use and has easy options for transferring photos

As far as technique goes- most kid digital cameras have double view finders and are “point and shoot”. Preschoolers are old enough to remember to:

  • Stay still
  • Get the subject of the photo in the finder
  • Click and advance
  • Keep it in the case while not in use

Kids this age are not very selective regarding subject matter! That’s why going digital is probably a better choice. You can sit together and decide which pictures to save and which to delete. This will help your child to learn what makes a good picture- balance, optimal distance, best background, and begin to understand the basics of lighting.

It’s important to be patient with your youngster. Teach one point at a time and then provide time to practice. As your child grows they will be able to assimilate what they’ve learned. The proof will eventually be in the pictures.

Letting your child take their own pictures is a step toward developing independence, forming artistic judgment and perhaps beginning a lifelong hobby or even vocation.

Main points to address:

  • Preschoolers are ready to “point and shoot”.
  • Digital cameras may be a cheaper and a more practical choice.
  • Shop around to find the best camera for your child.
  • Selecting photos worth saving together can be a learning experience.

Grades K-3rd

As children grow, their pictures will reflect their understanding of the principles of good picture taking. They may want to upgrade their camera. Again, searching for a camera with a few more options will open up a world of possibilities and allow your child to add to what they know and can do with a camera.

Children this age love to share their lives with others and pictures do this very well. Teach your child how to download their photos into the computer. They will then be able to choose the best ones, based on each picture’s artistic merits or the emotional endearment of the subject matter. Sending select photos to relatives is a great way to keep in touch.

You may want to spend time on the web with your child viewing slides of other people’s work. It’s usually easier to view someone else’s photos more objectively. Your youngster will be able to see how distance, perspective, lighting, background and choice of subject matter comes into play and begin to apply their observations to their own photography.

Kids love to take pictures of animals and other people. But equally fascinating at this age is the richness of nature. Take your cameras with you when hiking or camping. Capturing a shot of a squirrel munching on an acorn or laying on the forest floor shooting the sky though the canopy above could be your child’s idea of heaven!

Farm animals also make great subjects. So do fruits and vegetables! Don’t be afraid to let them experiment. Ripples in a pond or a flock of geese in flight will create interesting images and evoke precious memories. Your young school age child will enjoy experiencing life through a view finder!

Main points to address:

  • You may need to upgrade your child’s camera as they grow, become more skilled and more responsible.
  • Teach your child how to download their pictures to the computer.
  • Spend some time together viewing pictures taken by others.
  • Your child will have fun taking pictures of things in nature.

Grades 4-6th

Your older child will be better able to handle their camera and stay steady for a shot. This is the time to teach them some of the finer points of photography. Teach one of these aspects at a time, backing them up with pictures you have taken or images found on the net.

Identifying a “point of interest”: Teach your child to pause before shooting to find the one thing that he or she wants to emphasis or feature in the picture. That will help them consider distance, lighting, perspective and where the focal point will be.

Focal lock: Many kids when using an auto focus camera have trouble focusing on their true subject. This can be avoided by having your child press the shutter half-way down to focus and then set the subject where they want it in the view finder. Then hold steady- and press the shutter the rest of the way. This will result in a clearer picture.

The rule of thirds: Simply put- divide the view finder in thirds vertically and horizontally and center the subject on one of the vertices so that the subject is slightly off-center.

Experiment: Encourage your child to take the same shot from different angles (above, below, straight-on), distances, and with various backgrounds. Review the shots with your child so they can describe the techniques used and discuss the outcome. This will help your child understand the endless effects from manipulating the various elements of their picture-taking.

If your child remains excited about photography, they may want to join a club, either in your community or online. There are many sites that invite young photographers to share their photos, giving young people a forum for their work.

Remember that your child will take many more “bad” pictures than good. That’s why photographers take multiple shots! Encourage their interest by giving them artistic freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.

Save the good pictures in a quality album. Your child will enjoy sharing their favorites with friends and family for years to come.

Main points to address:

  • Older children are ready to learn some of the finer points of photography.
  • Teach them one aspect at a time.
  • Your child may want to join a photography club online or in your community.
  • Print and save the best photos. Keep them in an acid-free album.

Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Leisure.

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