Teaching our Kids to Shoot

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Teaching photography to kids is tons of fun. They pick up on concepts very quickly, and have no preconceived ideas about photography to hinder their learning! Here are some photographs that our kids took. There are some really good tips here – you can learn a lot from a kid!

Nick was 14 when he took this shot of the Washington Monument on a class trip to Washington DC. Notice that he didn’t center the composition, which makes it more appealing. He also took the shot with some pretty dramatic storm clouds – which adds interest. Those clouds also filter the light, so there are no harsh shadows or blown highlights. It’s a beautiful view of the area, and the exposure and colors are really nice.

For this shot of the Air Force Memorial, he pointed the camera straight up. The view is unique and interesting – and the blue sky makes a beautiful backdrop. Notice that his composition isn’t quite symmetrical, which adds to the appeal.

Nora is 13. She took this shot in Everglades National Park in Florida. When we saw the bird grab the fish, she started shooting right away. I told her to check her histogram – and she did. She saw that her first shot was underexposed, made a very quick manual adjustment, and took several more shots as the bird swallowed the fish whole. Quick thinking and an understanding of her histogram made for a beautiful action shot! The image is beautifully sharp, and she zoomed in to fill the frame as much as possible.

Here’s another shot she took during the trip. This time, she waited for the bird to turn his head toward the camera as he soaked up the sun. She captured the details on the birds wings, and his wonderful pose as well. Once again, she zoomed in to fill the frame with the bird and eliminate as much distraction as she could.

Eian took this shot at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada when he was 13. He worked to get his exposure right in camera – capturing the brilliant light on the distant sandstone cliffs as the sun went down. We teach the kids to shoot in manual mode and keep an eye on their histogram for every shot.

This abstract shot shows some of the incredible detail in the sandstone. Notice that Eian placed the lines at an angle for a more dynamic composition. He also chose a single deep crack as a counterpoint to the lines running at right angles to it. This provides a clear point of interest, and lets your eye rest within the frame.

Teaching kids photography isn’t difficult. Choose a few simple ideas to get started. Don’t provide too much information all at once, and let them get creative. Then, have them tell you about their image – and why they made the choices they did. Ask how they can improve their photograph, and make some gentle suggestions of your own. Ask them to critique your photos as well – and share your own ideas for improving your work. Challenge them to improve upon their own shot, while you work to improve yours. Above all – make sure learning about photography is fun!

About Author Varina Patel

There is nothing more remarkable to me than the power of nature. It is both cataclysmic and subtle. Slow and continuous erosion by water and wind can create landscapes every bit as astonishing as those shaped by catastrophic events – and minuscule details can be as breathtaking as grand vistas that stretch from one horizon to the other. Nature is incredibly diverse. Burning desert sands and mossy riverbanks… Brilliant sunbeams and fading alpenglow… Silent snowfall and raging summer storms… Each offers a unique opportunity. I am irresistibly drawn to the challenge of finding my next photograph, and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively.