Are you around your kids more lately? Do you find yourself trying to find something productive and fun for them to do?
Have you thought about teaching photography to kids?
Photography is a great way to introduce your kids to Art and the value of personal expression.
Teaching kids photography is great because photography is affordable and portable. And just a few kids photography lessons can provide plenty of room for growth, creativity and originality. All that is needed to improve your kids photography is a camera and your desire to share some very simple information.
Any camera from a tablet, to a phone, to a point and shoot, to a DSLR camera can be used for kids photography.
You don't need the most expensive camera and lens to take amazing pictures.
Check out these photos. All taken with a smartphone.
And really, all you (the teacher) need to know are a few fundamentals of photography that apply to all cameras.
Can you teach photography if you are not a great photographer? Yes.
To introduce your kids to photography you do not need to be a great photographer or even a good photographer. You just need to know what is needed to create a great photos and share that information with your students. They'll take it from there.
At this beginning level of kids photography it's actually better that the students not be bogged down with "knowledge". All they need to know (all anyone needs to know) to take better pictures is light and composition. Two things the camera cannot control.
Here's the thing, most of what you can teach new photographers you already know. You just don't know that you know it.
And, here's the other thing, your students don't yet know what that they don't know.
This is where you, the teacher, come in.
Imagine you are introducing someone to the art of cooking. You wouldn't start with a breakdown of how to make Crème Brûlée - even if you do know how to make Crème Brûlée. A better place to start is to show your students how to break an egg.
First things first.
And that is what you are doing as a kids photography teacher. You're introducing someone to photography. The first things in photography are light and composition.
You may not know how to teach someone how to make Crème Brûlée, but you can show anyone how to break an egg.
To get you started here are some kids photography assignments you can do today.
Remember, any camera will do.
Now is not the time to worry about such things as ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Now is the time to take advantage of your camera's Auto Mode.
Most cameras default to an auto mode setting. Meaning, all you have to do is point and shoot. The camera will determine the exposure settings for you. This takes away a ton of pressure in the beginning.
Another thing to remember as you introduce your kids to photography; they are a blank slate (of sorts). You will be giving them the foundational knowledge they'll need moving forward in their photography journey.
At this early stage, reinforcement of light and composition is critical. What does that mean? It means that now is the best time to give your kids room to figure things out on their own (with just a little guidance).
It also means that practice makes perfect.
These simple kids photography assignments should be repeated with slight variances to keep things interesting.
ITEMS NEEDED FOR ASSIGNMENTS:
All that is needed for these kids photography assignments (other than a camera and some imagination) is a favorite toy your student has. That toy will be the subject used in all of the photo assignments.
Maybe you've heard of the Rule of Thirds? It's a composition "rule" that helps photographers create a better photo through composition. The "rule" is essentially; avoid the middle (and edges).
The photo on the right shows a tic-tac-toe board on a photo. The way to live within the rules is to put your focal point (where you want people to look within the photo) on one of the corners of the center square.
Avoid placing the subject in the middle of the middle square.
By doing this (not putting the subject in the middle of the photo) you create tension and an opportunity to balance the photo. If the subject is directly in the middle there is balance in the composition but no "story".
Like many rules, if taken literally, you may be left thinking that all you have to do is use one of the center square corners and "Voila! A great composition!"
Common sense and a little design sense should let you know if that it not the case.
Not sure if a photo's composition is good? Read on to the end and get a high-level account of what makes a "good" photo.
This is a pretty straight-forward kids photography assignment that packs a punch when it comes to understanding how some photos "work" and others don't.
Using your student's toy, take photos with a background that is one solid color. The background can be a piece of paper (bigger than the toy), a wall or door, or maybe the floor. The color of the wall is not as important that it is one color and it does not have designs (no flowery wall paper).
The point behind taking a photo with a "clean" background will be made clear by comparing different backgrounds to see how they affect photos.
A photo with a clean background doesn't do much in the way of making a picture interesting as a whole. A clean background does make the subject stand out because there is nothing else in the picture to distract the eyes.
Compare the photos taken with a clean background to the photos taken in the other kids photography assignments that do have things in the background.
All you need to do ask your student to describe the differences in what they see when looking at a clean background and a "busy" background.
Another simple and fun kids photography assignment to get your students interested in photography is to take close up photos.
Using the same toy, take photos with the camera as close as it can be to the subject while still taking photos that are in focus.
The point behind this photo assignment is to teach your students that getting closer is almost always a good idea.
It will also teach them the importance of getting photos in focus. The closer you get to the subject the bigger the subject appears in the photo. With a subject that takes up a lot of the frame it becomes easier to see if the subject is in focus or out of focus.
This is a great time to use the zoom function if your camera allows. By zooming in you can make your subject bigger without getting closer to the subject.
Practice taking photos zoomed in and zoomed out. Notice how distractions in the background are not there when the camera is zoomed in. Notice how, when shooting wide (zoomed out) how much more of the background can be seen.
Ok. Now we have something that will require more than simply pointing the camera at something and taking a picture. For this kids photography assignment have your student create a scene where their toy is "doing" something.
Use the rule of thirds by placing the focal point (where you want the viewer to look) on one of the corners of the center square.
Check to see if the photo looks better zoomed in or zoomed out.
Don't be afraid to get close to the subject.
Does the background help or hurt the message of the photo? Does the background make the photo look better or worse? Does the background show you where the subject is?
Here's an article that covers what makes a picture powerful.
But what makes a picture good? What makes for a good picture?
Maybe it's easier to share with you a few ways to judge a photo. Then you can determine if a photo is good or not.
The truth is "good" is up to you to determine. You and your student will be better prepared to know a good photo when you see one if you know how to look at a photo with a discerning eye.
Here's what to judge in a photo.
1. Focus - is the subject in focus?
2. Composition - is the rule of thirds being followed?
3. Use of Light - is light on the subject?
5. Background - is the background helping the subject stand out?
6. The "It" Factor - is there something about the photo you like but can't quite describe it?
There's obviously a lot more to photography than what we covered here. But these are the basics that will carry photographer forward in their journey.
Remember, first things first. Kids photography should be fun and simple. There is really nothing wrong to do. Mistakes are only chances to learn and improve. If a photo is not good. Simply delete it. It costs you nothing to practice and improve your kids photography.
If you've already decided or if you just decided that you want to introduce your students to photography, we've prepared a set of photography lesson plans designed to teach kids (or anyone showing an interest in photography) the basic concepts that are used to create better photos.
You get 6 photography lesson plans that move your student through an understanding of light and composition.
And, in case you're not a pro photographer yourself, we've added a Teacher's Guide to assist you as you teach. You can lean on the Teacher's Guide to stay a step ahead of your students.
We're also including three Study Guides; Light, Composition and Night Photography. With these additional resources at your side, you'll have everything you need to introduce your students to a lifetime of enjoying and benefitting from photography.