Handing off an expensive phone or camera is a little scary, but even younger kids (with guidance) can do really well. Kids love to explore and to capture what is going on around them. They love to photograph their pets, toys, home, and even you.
Recently my daughter youngest daughter has really become interested. I bought a used Sony a5000 and a 50 1.8 lens for my eleven year old son (which he very soon got too busy to care about!… that is a different story.) So we had this really great camera for her. Initially she loved taking my phone out and filling my memory with pictures of random people at soccer games, flowers, and our cats. I was seeing that was taking her time, actually thinking creatively about what shots she wanted to take. So after a few weeks of my phone being used I told her that I thought she was responsible enough for the Sony.
LESSON ONE: HOW TO BE RESPONSIBLE
The first step was to makes sure she understood how to use the camera responsibly. She had to wear the neck strap and when she was done with the camera she had to bring it inside and put it away in the cabinet. She also had to make sure the lens cap was back on and the camera strap was not hanging down for someone to accidentally get caught on.
LESSON TWO: JUST EXPLORE
I set the camera to auto and just let her go outside with it. I didn’t give her any direction what so ever. She just went out and explored. I think this was one of the most important things I could have done. I know a whole lot about photography, but what she needs to know right now is that “seeing” what interests her is the most important part of photography.
When she came in I showed her how to review her images, how to delete ones she doesn’t want, and how to turn it off.
LESSON THREE: FIND THE SHADE
Shooting in open shade is the easiest place to put your child. Everything is pretty evenly lit and the auto exposure it going to work great. This way she can have lots of success with her picture. She took this amazing picture on our back porch of our cat.
LESSON FOUR: LOOK FOR DETAILS IN THE SHADE.
We went out to a pumpkin patch and just explored. This particular patch has so many cool things that she could photograph. There is junk, flowers, pumpkins, animals…and so much more. She could have been there for days and still never come close to finding everything that is interesting. Again, I wanted her to stay in the shade. We went a little before golden hour (when the sun is going down) so there was lots of shade and nice long shadows. I liked her looking for details because she took pictures from lots of different angles and had to really look at things. It is fun to see the tiny bits of life they find cool.
LESSON FIVE: FOCUS.
This is our next lesson. I have her camera set up in a semi auto focus mode. But she is still just taking pictures and not even thinking about if it is focus. She as about a 40% in focus rate at this point…still not bad. Right now I just want her to push the shutter button down, find the focus, and shoot.
LESSON SIX: COMPOSE
The final lesson we will do is to use the rule of thirds to make an image interesting. This just means that she will put the main subject off to the side instead of the center.
I upload her images to my instagram account and hashtag them with #charlottescamera. I set up a Chapbooks series for her with just her images and pictures I have taken of her taking pictures. I really hope this continues to inspire her to take more and see how much she has learned.
Here are some of her images from the pumpkin patch.
I have been so excited to see what she sees with her camera. Only you will know if or when you child is ready, if you think they can be responsible with your phone or camera I say go for it!