As a writer, I’m often tasked with photographing my subjects. I walk around the house with my camera in one hand and my son clutching the other, both of us crouching down to get the right angle. My toddler – like so many little learners – is a quick study. He closely observes me with my lenses and tripods, taking pretend pictures with his own invisible camera. He’s even snatched my camera phone off the table a few times and returned it with artistically-blurry, darkened portraits of his favorite things: the dogs, his toys, grass, feet. Children see the world through such an amazingly honest, unfiltered viewpoint. It can be really fun to capture memories from their perspective. Here are some ways to encourage young children to explore photography.
Instead of worrying about the damage they might do to your pricey equipment, buy them an inexpensive kid-friendly camera that they can learn the ropes on. There are quite a few made specifically for kids, built to handle falls. Just be sure and stick with digital – children have a tendency to snap a whole roll of film away in a matter of minutes!
Make it a game
Incorporate the other things that your child is learning, offering them tasks such as photographing things that are red or items that start with “A.” Creating a photo scavenger hunt can be a particularly exciting way to get siblings involved in photography together.
Clear off a table and fill a basket with objects such as decorative figurines, colored papers and fabric flowers. Let your child set up a scene to practice their still shots.
Show your pride
Display your child’s finest work! Have him or her select favorite photos to print out and frame or hang up on a wall. This can be a fun little field trip to the photo lab, where you can explain how photos get from the camera to the paper.
I’ve even seen photography adventures executed at children’s birthday parties really successfully. The parents hand out inexpensive child cameras and let the children document their friends’ silly faces, the decorations, cake, etc before printing at home and turning their memories into a fun scrapbook activitiy.
What other ways might you encourage a child to explore photography as a hobby?