Introducing Photography to a Child

For those of us who love photography, this risk is that we are overzealous in trying to get our children to like it as much as we do.  

I consider myself extremely lucky in that all of my children have an interest in photography; and with my older son it started with film.  What I want to share with you here are the techniques I have used to make sure my youngest son enjoys the experience and doesn't' feel the least bit pressured.  My goal is to make everything about photography positive for him.

 

Gear

Camera

Luckily my wife has an old Nikon D60 that she doesn't use much so I was able to give this camera to my son.  With the two kit lenses he is able to cover anything that he might want to photograph.  Now he feels it is his, takes care of it, and most importantly stores it in HIS room!  This camera is more than a point and shoot and in his eyes is "just like dad's".  

Camera Settings

Just like "P" is for professional, in the hands of a child I consider "P" to mean Perfect.  I set his camera up on program mode, and bump the ISO up to 800.  For now we keep these settings in tact.  I feel this gives him the best chance of producing sharp images.

Tripod

I have him use one of my tripods and I think this is a great idea.  Not only does it force him to slow down a bit and have to adjust the tripod, compose the image, and then shoot; it also provides a little bit more security against the camera getting dropped.  I have a small travel tripod that is just the perfect size and weight for him.  

A small thing I do that I think makes a difference, is that I always carry my tripod when he has his.

Outings / Photowalk

ust has important as providing him with reasonable gear is the approach.

The weekends are when I do the majority of my photography so that is when I suggest we head out for a photowalk.  It is entirely up to him as to whether he goes or not.  I never force it.  For me if he goes half the time, I consider that a success.

Never Force it / They are In Charge

When he does go with me, this is how I approach it.  

For each outing we go on I make sure that I don't set any expectations on what I am going to accomplish or achieve.  I make sure the outing is all about my son's experience, and as soon as he says he's had enough or wants to go home,  then we immediately head home.  Of course making sure we stop for a doughnut or bagel!  I want to make sure that he doesn't feel like he needs to stay out or feels trapped by the outing.  He is in charge and when he wants to head home we do.

I also make sure that I am photographing as well.  I never hover over his shoulder and "help" him.  I always make sure that I am capturing images and allowing him to freely explore and capture.  I think this also helps reduce or eliminate any pressure.  Obviously I am right there if he has any questions. 

Print It

Depending on how he feels there are some days when we get home and immediately import his images into Lightroom together and some days he just goes off and does something different.  For each outing after we get his images imported I always try to have him pick one that he likes and I print it out for him.  Doesn't matter what it is we always make a print. 

n the end the way I view it, if he likes photography or not we have spend some excellent time together, he is creating something and spending less time with the Xbox.  All of these, I consider to be successes. 

I hope you can you some of these ideas and maybe successfully introduce photography to a child you know.