With disposable cameras and cheap digital cameras, the barrier to giving a child a camera is getting lower and lower. It’s wise not to give a child your treasured camera; not only will the experience be stressful for you, if it does get damaged it’s upsetting for everyone involved. However, if you have an old camera, or a cheap digital camera, you might want to think about letting your child loose with it.
If it’s a digital camera they can take as many shots as they want without a worry about film costs or development. You might want to consider giving your child a disposable camera if it’s a special occasion – and if they lose it, it doesn’t matter too much!
Some Tips for getting Children interested in Photography
Make it Simple
Make sure the camera is simple to use and lightweight. There are child cameras available that are larger and easier for little hands to hold. If you don’t want the camera dropped then don’t give it to a child. Explain how the camera works at home when there is no pressure to take a photo. Let them play around with it at home; silly photos are great!
If you’re at a crowded tourist attraction, letting you’re child try and take photos might not be the best idea. However, if you’re in the garden or park, they’re unlikely to get in people’s way or find it hard to photography what they want. If you’re on holidays find a moment when they can have fun without any pressure!
Don’t tell them what to photograph; just see what they come up with. If it’s a digital camera it doesn’t matter if they take lots of silly shots – and anyway, what may seem silly to adults may make a lot of sense to a child.
A little project can help a child focus on what to photograph. See Children’s Photography Projects. For example, a child might enjoy a project such as taking photographs in the garden that represent autumn.
Talk about Photography
Once your young photographer has taken some shots and you’ve had them printed or visible on a computer, have a chat about them. Ask them what they like and don’t like about them. Help them create photo collages or storyboards with their pictures.
Children can have an enormous amount of fun with a camera. Not only do they enjoy the creative aspect of taking photos but looking back on them is also lots of fun. Children also enjoy creating further projects with their photos (such as birthday cards).
Have a look at some other photos – have a laugh and a giggle. See if they have any thoughts on what they think makes a good photo. Children aren’t interested in good photographic practice such as adults, but it’s good to get them thinking about what they like in a photo!
As much as you can, leave them to it! Give them some project ideas to help them focus, but after that let them run loose with their ideas.
Children as Photographers, a large-scale research project by the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, University of Birmingham and Kodak, is looking at how and why children take photographs. It features the photographs of 180 children from five European countries as well as comments about their work. This is very detailed research and extremely interesting reading about photographic abilities of children.