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Teach Photography to Children: Ideas, Tips, Projects, Lessons, Skill Sets, and More

Updated on August 24, 2016
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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Hopefully if you're here it's because you have a kid or several kids who have a strong interest in photography and are looking to do more. The good news is that they're already motivated and ready to learn. But now what? It's important to give kids the tools and resources that they need to be successful. It's also important not to get overwhelmed. You and your kids won't be able to tackle everything in this article in a week or most likely even a month. Pick one project or idea at a time and go from there.

The Canon Rebel line is a fantastic entry level DSLR line for beginner middle school and high school photographers
The Canon Rebel line is a fantastic entry level DSLR line for beginner middle school and high school photographers | Source

Select an appropriate camera and case.

Obviously a camera is a fairly costly purchase and not something to be taken lightly. You don't need to run out and spend a ton of money the first time your kid mentions the idea of photography. However, if he clearly has a passion, it's important that he has a solid piece of equipment. While cell phone cameras can be fun while out and about with friends, older kids should have high end point and shoots or entry level DSLRs to really improve their skills. Age will most likely be determining factor for your camera purchase. I've included some resources for choosing kid cameras for a variety of ages.

It's also important to purchase a camera case. If your child is going to take a lot of pictures, he needs to be able to take the camera with him without worrying about damaging it.

You don't want your photos to end up a blurry mess like this one did.  Take the time to steady your camera.
You don't want your photos to end up a blurry mess like this one did. Take the time to steady your camera. | Source

Holding and steadying the camera.

It is easy to get frustrated when many of your photos turn out blurry. While photo clarity is a concept that every photographer is constantly improving, there are some simple tips you can provide for your child that will make a huge difference.

  • Use the timer. Most standard point and shoot cameras have a timer. You can use a short setting (i.e. 2 seconds) when you don't need to allow time to get in a shot yourself.
  • Use a tripod as you can. There are some inexpensive tripods on the market that are perfect for indoor and some outdoor settings.
  • When a tripod will not be available, steady yourself against something. Leaning your elbows on a railing or balancing against a wall will still make a big improvement.

The War Against Blurry Photos: Holding Your Point and Shoot Camera

This affordable, lightweight tripod is perfect for on the go tripod photography.

How I Shoot - Canon T4i/T5i Tips and Tricks | PhotoRec TV

Learn the basics of the camera.

If you have an older child with a point and shoot or DSLR, have him resist the temptation to shoot in Auto mode all the time and instead help him learn the Manual modes. While your child may be frustrated with worse photos during the learning process, the effort will be worth it in the end. Pick one or two features at a time (i.e. aperture, shutter speed) and build from there.

I take between 12,000 and 15,000 shots per year.
I take between 12,000 and 15,000 shots per year. | Source

Take a lot of photos.

One of the best ways to improve any skill is to practice. Photography is no exception. In the age of digital photography, it is not expensive to take lots of pictures. Encourage your child to bring his camera with him often and to take photos anywhere it's appropriate. Consider "field trip" options for photos, such as the zoo and the aquarium. Don't discount routine events as well, such as picking up a few items at Target. You never know when inspiration will strike.

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Learn basic photo techniques.

There are a handful of basic rules in photography, such as the rule of thirds and finding a focal point, that are relatively easy to learn and are very effective. Don't be afraid to tackle them with kids.

Consider a photo challenge and/or set of lessons.

One way to improve your photography while having fun, meeting other photographers, and gaining exposure for your work is to participate in a challenge. One excellent and very popular challenge is Chantelle's monthly photo a day challenge. There are also a number of Scavenger Hunt Flickr groups. Additionally, there are numerous photo blogs, web sites, and channels with photo lessons, tutorials, and more. My favorite YouTube photography channel is PhotoRec TV.

After completing a basic crop and light adjustment, I edited this photo of myself in with a purple tint and soft focus.  I did all of this with Picasa.
After completing a basic crop and light adjustment, I edited this photo of myself in with a purple tint and soft focus. I did all of this with Picasa. | Source

Learn basic photo editing.

Lightroom and Photoshop are amazing tools but not necessary for beginning photographers learning basic editing techniques. There are a number of free options out there, including Picasa and PicMonkey. Obviously these tools as not as powerful as Photoshop and Lightroom, but they are wonderful for beginners and for anyone who enjoys quick, fun methods for altering photos. Check out the photo on the right that I edited with Picasa. Getting comfortable with performing a basic crop and light adjustment will go a long way. When you've exhausted the functions of free editing software and are ready to take your skills to the next level, consider investing in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Google Photos hands-on! | TechnoBuffalo

I get an amazing amount of support and feedback on Instagram (randomcreativeart).
I get an amazing amount of support and feedback on Instagram (randomcreativeart). | Source

Share photos online.

One of the best ways to improve your photography is to get feedback from others. Once your child has started to build a collection of photos, consider ways for him to share them online. Think about what is appropriate for the age of your child. Facebook, Google Photos, Instagram, and SmugMug are all great options.

Displaying your work is a great evaluation method for photographers of all skill levels.
Displaying your work is a great evaluation method for photographers of all skill levels. | Source

Purchase frames and other displays.

Another great way to get feedback and to evaluate your own work is by displaying it. Get your child's photos up at home. This will be a huge ego boost for him and will also encourage him to view it often. Evaluating your work on a regular basis is one of the best ways to improve. If you don't have frames on hand or a lot of extra room for displaying artwork, start by putting some photos up on the fridge.

Purchase an album or portfolio.

Even if your child opts to share most of his photos online, it can still be nice to have an album or portfolio for printed photos, too. This is another method for encouraging evaluation. It also allows you to take some of your photos wherever you go and share them without utilizing any technology (i.e. a flash drive). Grandma may not check your Facebook photo albums, but she would love to look at your photo album.

Look into local, age appropriate classes.

While there are many great learning and networking opportunities available online, it can be very valuable to take a class in person, too. Check for local, age appropriate photography classes for your kid. Many park districts and colleges offer summer classes and/or weekly after school classes, which may include photography.

Most chain book stores, such as Barnes and Noble, have a fairly comprehensive photography selection. They may offer kid specific resources.
Most chain book stores, such as Barnes and Noble, have a fairly comprehensive photography selection. They may offer kid specific resources. | Source

Provide resources and examples.

One of the best ways to learn a skill is to study the best that there is. Consider great photo books, local exhibits, and free resources online. Look for photo sites that fit with the specific interests of your child, such as cats or trains. Check your local library for photo books.

Contests

Although a contest is not a necessary component for improving your photography skills, it can be a fun challenge and a good motivator. There are a number of contests out there specifically for kids. I have linked a couple of the best kid photography contest resources that I found online. Check for additional local opportunities, too.

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    • TrahnTheMan profile image

      TrahnTheMan 4 years ago from Asia, Oceania & between

      Great hub with LOTS of helpful ideas! Photography is a fabulous media for creativity, and while some kids can't draw, all boys and girls can take photos. Smart phones have become so ubiquitous that it's probably worth adding some photo apps to your list of tips :-)

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks TrahnTheMan! I agree about photography's potential as a creative media. As someone who has very limited drawing skills, I love to express myself through photos.

      As for the phone apps:

      1) I feel like a lot of kids already have the know how to learn photography phone apps.

      2)There's absolutely nothing wrong with these type of apps, but I choose to concentrate on more serious photography techniques in this article.

      With that being said, photography phone apps would still make a great topic for an article.

    • kelleyward 4 years ago

      Wow you continue to amaze me at how you design your hubs beautifully and pack them with so much vital information. Thanks for sharing this Randomcreative! I will use this with my oldest son who is really interested in Photography! Take care, Kelley

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Kelley! That means a lot to me. I'm continually working to improve my articles, and I'm glad that it's paying off. I'm so glad that this is helpful for you, too. That's great that your son has an interest in photography.

      northland, thanks! In the age of digital photography, photo activities with kids have become much more affordable. Have fun with it!

    • Kathy 4 years ago

      Great ideas! Thanks!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Kathy!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Rose, What a brilliant hub. My daughter loves ot take pictures and she'll benefit from all these approaches. Truly useful- voted up and across!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Docmo! I'm so glad that this will be helpful for her!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      What an amazing hub full of tips and tricks that kids - and adults - will benefit from! Nice job and great intro! I myself am becoming a photography addict. :) Voted up!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Cyndi! I have definitely become more than a little bit of a photography addict myself. :)

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      randomcreative, photography skills have always intrigued me. Kids projects are becoming more advanced and technology is providing many wonderful options for them to present with photos. All of your suggestions are very helpful and explained nicely. I remember being really excited when I got my first camera as a young girl. voted up and shared

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, MissOlive! You're absolutely right about technology presenting more and more options for all types of photographers. I still remember getting my first camera, too. It's an exciting experience.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Vicki L Hodges 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      This is great info for children OR beginning adult photographers. Great info and so well laid out, as always!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Yes, for sure, Vicki! Many of these tips are applicable to all photographers. Thanks!

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