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1. Don’t Start Too EarlyIt might be tempting to hand your toddler a camera or your phone and let them push buttons, but most kids under 5 don’t have stability and dexterity to take non-blurry pictures. Unless you have an exceptionally interested children, I’d suggest waiting until they are over 5 to really introduce photography to them.
2. Don’t Fret About “Just Right” CameraCamera choices depend mostly on your family situation. If your child is not careful with things, you might want to invest in a camera for kids. A well meaning friend of the family gave Smarty VTech Kidzoom Camera when she was 4.
It is sturdy and has big buttons designed for smaller hands. However, quality of lens is sub-average, and we thought that this camera has too many unnecessary bells and whistles taking children’s attention, which is already a precious commodity, away from actually learning to take decent pictures. We put that camera away and for her 7th birthday gave her my old Canon Powershot SD1100 while I upgraded to Canon PowerShot Elph 330. You could use any older digital camera as long as it is reasonably small and reasonably fast while taking pictures.
3. Make Them Get a “Camera License”When my daughter was in kindergarten, her class had iPads in the classroom. Before children could get access to iPads, they needed to pass a “test” to demonstrate that they know how to handle this expensive piece of electronics properly and receive an “iPad license”. The same applies to cameras. We expected our 7 year old to:
- Know how to turn a camera on and off
- Remember to put it in a protective case when not in use
- Return it to a designated spot in the house - we are still working on that. Recently she “lost” her camera for a few weeks and then I discovered it quite by accident in my own backpack!
- Take pictures, take videos and view the results
- Use zoom button
- Turn flash on and off
4. Teach Them to Stand StillWe are trying to teach our daughter that there are three parts to taking a good picture:
- Decide on what you want to photograph
- Hold camera straight with both hands
- Make sure your hands don’t block your lens or flash (as you can see from the photo, this is still work in progress)
- Stand still – you cannot take photos while moving. This is getting better… most of the time daughter remembers this tip.
5. Don’t Tell Them What to Photograph…
… Or you are going to regret it as I did when I asked Smarty to take my photo. Smarty is not very interested in photographing people, she is a lot more interested in details around her. There was a period when she was photographing stones and cracks in the sidewalks. Luckily we live in the age of digital photography and we don’t have to worry about the cost of every shot. Picking their own subjects not only make photography a lot more interesting, but also allows us a unique insight into their view of the physical world.
6. Show Them the Possibilities
This weekend we took this little Playmobil fairy on a hike with us and focused on looking for fairy houses and photographing her homes. Smarty loved this idea, and suddenly hiking was a lot more interesting to her than it usually is (it also took us much longer than usual to get through our usual hiking loop in our favorite hiking place). I think that we will have a lot more of those “props” pictures in our future trips.