Photography is an exciting art form that has enchanted people of all ages for more than a century. Take, for example, the infamous Cottingley Fairies in the 1920s, when two children mystified the world with their imaginative photography experiment.
While the expense of photography and complexity of the chemical processes once prohibited most children — and even adults — from engaging in photographic experiments, the evolution of technology has made shooting photographs so easy and accessible today that any child who is old enough to hold a camera and push a button reliably is ready take up the hobby.
Cameras are now on the market designed expressly for children, made of rugged materials and featuring easy controls. In addition, once the camera hardware has been purchased, the expense is next to nothing, so long as the basic digital equipment to view the photos is already in the house.
Interesting ways that children are utilizing cameras
It really doesn’t take much encouragement to get kids to take pictures once they have a camera, but giving their interest a little direction can’t hurt. It’s natural for most people to photograph their friends as they smile and wave to the camera, or act silly.
Creativity in photography requires a little more thought, however. One way that you can encourage your children to explores the potentials of photographic technique is to organize picture scavenger hunts. A hunt can go beyond a simple checklist of objects the children have to find and shoot; instead, tell them to find situations or colors that encourage the child to put more thought into composition.
Encourage creativity in the young
Christine Dickson of the Digital Photography School suggests that contests are a great way to encourage and teach children about photography. You can motivate kids initially with the prospect of a piece of candy or trinket to win by competing for it, but once the child experiences the thrill of having other people look at and admire his or her photograph, taking pictures becomes its own reward.
Simple concepts, such as which photo is the most colorful, are easy for young minds to grasp, and help foster the creative process.
Important lessons to teach about photography
Darren Rowse of Digital Photography School suggests the most important thing to teach a child about photography is to experiment. Experimentation helps to expand the mind and encourages children to discover for themselves what works and what doesn’t.
This can mean anything from shooting from different angles, to photographing a subject at different times of the day to capture changing light. The main idea is to let a child explore how these changes affect the ultimate image, and thus avoid the natural impulse to photograph everything in the same way. Experimentation is what keeps photography interesting.
Photography is now such a staple of social existence that it’s become hard to imagine a world without it. Children often take the process and the skill involved for granted. But since photography has become so ubiquitous and commonplace, it’s perhaps even more important to help children understand the magic of picture-taking.