That’s what qualifies me to write about the things I have learned about teaching them about taking pictures and building their photographic skills.
Here are 5 things I have learned about teaching kids photography.
Tip #1 – Learn to speak in basic terms.
I actually learn a lot from them as I try to guide them.
To be able to teach kids, you need to be able to learn from them. But I don’t mean learn photography, I mean learn exactly how to teach them.
Let me explain. We tend to speak in terms that are very familiar to us when in our element. Photographers talk about things like light source, aperture, f-stops, etc. Kids don’t understand those terms right away. In fact, they don’t understand them even when we speak in what we think are basic terms.
We need to listen and watch. They will give us clues about the things they get and don’t get. Watch for the quizzical looks and questioning eyes. They won’t always tell you they don’t get it, because sometimes they are so detached from our language that they don’t even know how to explain what they are thinking.
Tip #2 – Teach How To Press The Shutter Button – This Will Practically Eliminate Blurred Photos
In my experience, blurry images are the number one nemesis of new photographers, especially kids.
They (for lack of a more descriptive term) mash the shutter button with animation and enthusiasm. Very few kids are exempt from this malady.
But the good news is they can be trained. And this is one of the things that they easily understand when it is explained in their language.
The correct shutter button technique is to gently press the button part way down and allow the camera to focus on the subject. The camera will make a faint beep, which is the signal that the focus has been locked. After hearing the beep, the shutter button can be pressed the rest of the way to record the image.
That final push of the shutter button needs to be firm but not hard and fast. The harder and faster one tries to press the button, the more likely he is to move the camera and get a blurry picture.
As with any technique, this one needs to be practiced. When you feel that they are doing it correctly, have them move to an area that is not brightly lit to continue practicing. The less light, the harder it is to get sharp pictures. This is where practicing will pay dividends.
Tip #3 – Hold It Still – Hold It Steady
While pressing the shutter button correctly may be the most common mistake, poor camera holding technique is just as deadly. You just can’t get nice, sharp pictures when the camera is not being held steady as the picture is being snapped.
Proper camera holding starts with bracing the arms and elbows. Rather than having the elbows at 90 from the torso like a chicken trying to take flight, they should be held against the body. This will keep the camera from moving as much.
Another method for holding the camera still is to brace one’s body against a stable object such as a wall, pole, or tree. If such an object is available, the young photographer can even press the side of the camera against the pole. This is almost as good as having a tripod.
Tip #4 – Take More Than One Shot
Almost every new photographer has experienced the disappointment of seeing the picture they thought was amazing become a blurry mess on the computer. The large monitor screen shows much more detail than the LCD screen on the camera.
After taking the initial shot, make sure they get a few more images for insurance. Usually one of the “extra” photos will be the best one, not the original shot.
The good news is that with digital, images don’t cost anything. So don’t rely on the image in the LCD view. Get insurance.
Tip #5 – Get Creative – Change Perspective
One of the best ways to improve a kid’s interest in photography is to get them taking good shots right away. It’s never too early to stress creativity, even when kids are learning basic techniques.
Everyone has seen photographers taking pictures. We all know the standard stance.. stand directly in front of the subject, squat slightly, arms sticking straight out from the body, mouth and lips in some awkward position, you know the look. This may work sometimes, but there are other ways to get eye-catching photos.
The easiest way for kids to love their images is to show them how to think creatively about perspective. Perspective is a fancy word for moving the camera to different positions. The simplest movement is up or down. Instead of standing directly in front of and on the same level with the subject, they can move the camera up or down.
When I show this technique to the kids I teach, they get giddy with the results almost immediately. And so do I.
This strategy works with people pictures as well as inanimate objects like buildings, flowers, chairs, anything.
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I wrote an article on Squidoo about this very thing with a few more suggestions. Here is the link: teach-photography-to-children