Trying to find a cheap way to entertain the kids? Why not look at encouraging them to take up photography. With our helpful guide, you can help them to take better pictures and perhaps find a new passion too.
The great thing about photography is that most of us have readily available cameras on our iPhone iPad or Android device these days. Mobile devices also come with fantastic filters, and free applications that can help make photography both fun and more artistic. The phone camera has improved massively and at some point will replace the point and shoot compact camera.
Digital compact camera
You may already have a digital camera at home, and it’s good to know the different types. Relatively cheap compact cameras are light and small to carry, so perfect for everyday use and great to take away on holiday and trips. You simply point and shoot.
For those who prefer a more professional picture, a Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera (DSLR) with interchangeable lenses, allows you to take pictures in different light conditions and environments with total control. These can start from a few hundred pounds and go up to thousands – so they’re a big investment!
These cameras tend to have manual settings that give more control over the picture taking, but take time to understand and perfect. Modern cameras also have automatic controls for those who want a good quality image with less fuss and control. Be sure to go over these and teach your children the different functions. For example portrait, action, night time etc. The symbols are easy to understand and they’ll pick it up over time.
These cameras have no digital capability and are totally controlled by the user, including light and focus. You can buy one new or second hand and reconditioned in a camera shop, or online. You may be given one from a family member or friend. Check out car boot sales and second hand shops too, many people prefer to go digital these days, so you may pick up a bargain. Manuals take traditional film as opposed to a memory card, which some photographers choose to process themselves or they can be sent away to be developed.
How to hold a camera
It may sound silly, but holding a camera with two hands, keeping it straight and steady will prevent shaky images, and help to frame them better. Teach your children to look more carefully through the viewfinder, and not rush at taking pictures. You can point this out more closely during the editing phase, when you look at the images together. Also, try teaching them to lock in the subject by holding the button half way, until it focuses on what they want to snap.
Check your background
Show your kids how to avoid background interference, such as plants sticking out, or people walking past. This again is about being patient and seeing what they want to photograph, as opposed to just clicking away.
Taking pics of places and subjects from afar is a great way of capturing a moment. Having the confidence to zoom in and focus on faces, details, and objects will help to add different ways of looking and obtaining a variety of images.
The rule of thirds
Learning how to fill a picture frame, and using the rule of thirds, helps to balance the image. Teach your children to place the main subject off centre and at intersecting points. There’s a great explanation here.
Help them find a balance between pics of people objects and places
There are lots of types of photographic subjects that your children can explore. The outdoors, nature, buildings, landscapes, people, moments, events, action shots. You could start in the home, asking them to look at still life compositions such as vases. Documentary photography is just that, you document an event or people or a sequence, for example taking pictures of the family as they eat dinner every day.
Edit and review photos together
Once you have the basics right, it’s really good practice to go over pictures together on a laptop. This could also be a way of teaching them how to crop images and improve them through free editing applications. Hopefully they have the bug at this point, and the best way for them to improve is to encourage more snapping. Let them explore their own ideas, and things which interest them. How much you pass on is entirely up to you, but be sure to let them have fun and enjoy this great hobby!