Back in the days of film cameras, parents were often loathe to let children loose on the shutter button because once an image was captured, you were stuck with it. But digital cameras have opened up a whole new world for children who can shoot away to their heart’s content because images can be deleted easily, preventing wastage.
Today’s cameras are also simple to use and there are makes and models designed just for kids that have a limited number of modes, big buttons and simple instructions. It’s never too late to encourage children to get into photography, but some guidance and gentle persuasion by parents is highly recommended.
Choose the camera wisely
A good point-and-shoot camera is going to be an excellent starting point for kids of all ages. Handing them a digital SLR and telling them to go off and have fun just isn’t going to work. In fact, it will be waste of money because they just wouldn’t use all of its features. You don’t have to spend a lot either as quality, sturdy cameras are abundant. Get one that has some automatic settings, but not too many to be confusing, a strap to go around a child’s wrist, a case to store it in and one with a good-sized LCD screen. Involve the kids in their purchase as well – the colour of the camera can make all the difference!
Set up the camera properly
Before letting your child loose, it is important the camera is set up correctly. This includes charging the battery according to the manufacturer’s instructions, setting the camera to shoot at the highest quality, and making sure the time, date and memory card are all correct. Think of what the images are going to be used for as well to help determine how the camera will be set up.
Explain how it works
A child is going to want to start snapping away as soon as possible, and that’s completely understandable. But showing them how the camera works and what the different settings mean will make a big difference to the images they produce. It is also important that kids recognise that the camera is not a toy as such and should be cared for. Encourage them to always put the wrist strap on when holding the camera and to put it back in its case when not in use.
Lead by example
Be patient with your apprentice photographer and don’t be critical of their efforts. Praise their images and encourage them, while at the same time giving them subtle advice. A great way to help steer them towards better images is to grab a camera yourself and let them shoot what you shoot and for them to see how you do it. Take them outdoors and find some colourful flowers to show how you can get close up, or take some action photos of their siblings or pets playing. Let them take photos of their toys and their favourite things. Best of all, let them explore. Kids have a different view of the world and quite often this can come through in their photography with some amazing results.