Kids with Cameras

In How to, Inspiration

Do you ever hand over your camera to your kids?  It might sound like a scary proposition at first, but trust me – it’s worth it.  I teach photography to kids all the time through my job with Literacy Through Photography here in Houston.  I’ve been in classrooms with kids of all ages and I’ve picked up a few things along the way that might help you feel more comfortable handing over your gear.

  •  Talk to them ahead of time about your expectations before you let them use your expensive equipment.  Every time.  They need to know that your camera is not a toy, that they need to wear the strap around their neck and that they HAVE to have both hands on the camera at all times.  Show them the proper way to grip the body and the lens.   And of course – by all means – no running.

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  • Set them up with the best possible chance for success.  I like to pre-set the white balance, ISO and aperture to what would be ideal for the conditions they’ll be shooting in before I even start the process.  Usually a low aperture like 2.8 or 4.0 are great places to start.  I also lock the focal point to center since most kids tend to frame their subjects that way anyway.  Once they’ve gotten used to holding the camera and shooting, I teach them about pressing the shutter half-way to get their focus and then recomposing the shot.  It’s great practice for them and it’s fun to see how quickly they get the hang of doing it.

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  • Let them wander, but stay close.  Staying close helps me understand what they’re looking at and I can provide subtle suggestions, usually in the form of questions, that will help them find a new angle or shoot from a different perspective.  “I wonder what it would look like with the sun behind it?”  or “How close can you get?”

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  • Give them a task and a time limit.  Having a manageable goal to achieve takes away that hesitation we’ve all felt about what to shoot.  And having a time limit is also good for us because we know they have a specific moment that they’ll be handing our precious equipment back to us.  10 to 15 minutes for 5 distinct images is a common task that I hand out.  I’ve also been know to have my students collect 5 images of patterns, or 5 shadows, or 5 images they’ve taken while laying on their bellies…

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Last week we spent a few days in Tulsa visiting my parents.  We spent the evening at the Tulsa Botanic Gardens.  In May, they opened their Children’s Discovery Garden and we were so excited to see it in person after viewing the plans last year.  I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to let my kids have a turn (for 10 minutes each) with my camera.   They both shot more than 5, but I had them narrow down their selections because, after all, culling your own work is the hardest part.  Without further ado, here are each of my children’s selected images (unedited) for your viewing pleasure:

Kendall (age 7):

Braden (age 10):

I love being able to share my passion for photography with my kids and it warms my heart even further when they point out beautiful light to me without me mentioning it.  Now, armed with this advice, your 10 year old may one day say to you, “Mom, the light is really nice.  Can I take your picture?”  The answer should always be yes.

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Teach them the ways – Angie

12 Comments

  1. ohmygoodness awesome.

    (I love handing my camera over to my kids…and totally love when they recognize the light and ask to make a shot.)
    (and that’s a mighty sweet portrait of you) x

  2. This is great! I love letting my kids take the camera at family parties. Their perspective is always different than mine, plus, I think that party guests are more inclined to smile nicely at a kid taking their picture than they are at me 😉

    • I totally agree – my kids recently did portraits of my parents and the smiles they got from both my mom and dad were so much more genuine than the smiles they gave to me.

  3. This is wonderful, Angie! I’ve gone on photowalks with my kids, but I’m shooting alongside them. I think the idea of staying close and coaching is wonderful, and something I may try to do soon!

  4. Oh I love this! Such good tips too. We used to have a blog when Ella was 3 and we lived in SF; we always gave the camera to her and it was fascinating to see what she chose to take pictures of.

  5. Such a great list of tips. I especially love that shot of you! So beautiful to see ourselves through the eyes of our children.

  6. It’s so wonderful that you’re giving them a chance to learn, and with equipment that will give them success! Their shots are great and that portrait of you is lovely!

  7. These are awesome tips Angie! Love them all and I’ll be using them with my niece and nephew this summer for sure!

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