A photograph taken today is a lifetime of yesterdays preserved for all the tomorrows. - Unknown
While we don't know who penned this sentiment, it doesn t ring truer than when a parent takes the painstaking time to foster creativity within a child. You don't have to be an Elliott Erwitt, or even a Kodak salesman, to help guide you child's photography path while building and capturing your own memories. Here are a few tips for helping your child develop his or her picture-taking talents and perhaps yours, too, along the way.
First, choose a digital camera for your child that is age appropriate and won't shatter the first time it is dropped. For a young child, the best kids camera is a bulky, toy camera. It won't take the best pictures and it won't have the buttons and settings of a real digital camera, but it will be a good start for a young child who is showing some interest in learning about photography.
Another option is purchasing a waterproof digital camera. These cameras have the same basic functions and settings as standard digital cameras, yet they are built to endure tough drops and rough environments. An added bonus is that they are also waterproof, so there will be no need to cringe each time they are dropped, even into water, making them a good choice for a kids camera.
As your child begins snapping pictures, teach your child about composition, or the placement of the subject he or she is photographing. Demonstrate how to use the viewfinder or view screen to frame the shot, making sure none of Aunt Ruth's face gets left out. Often this is easier with stationary objects such as landscapes, the family car or a favorite toy. Also, help with the discovery of new perspectives by encouraging your child to get up close, take a step back or look up from underneath.
Be aware that children often find it difficult to change from one subject to another and will often spend shot after shot on the same flower, sidewalk crack or ant. Place a limit on how many pictures your child can take of one subject, then encourage him or her to find something else. Picture books that use photographs instead of illustrations are a good way to help your child think about different ways to capture the same object, or find other subjects to portray.
Handling the camera is important for a child to learn early to avoid falling into mishandling habits later on. Encourage your child to always use the neck and wrist straps to help keep a firm handle on the camera. If your child is having difficulty keeping the camera steady, try setting it on a chair, rock or other sturdy, flat object. Also, teach your child to be patient and wait for a second after the sound of the shutter's snap before moving.
Sometimes children, and grown-ups, get a little too trigger-happy and forget to look for background noise in photographs. Sometimes these little extras can be embarrassing when they are discovered. Show your child how to zoom in closer to avoid capturing people in the background. Remind him or her to look behind subjects to make sure there aren't any unwanted distractions that may accidentally find their way into their photo, including marks on walls or bright street lights. If the background is too big to avoid, have your child take a step back to help lessen the distraction.
Finally, relax and have fun! Kids will make mistakes on the way, and initially they may not care. Don t stress out and don't worry about teaching them everything at once. Don't forget to continually praise your child's efforts, so the flame isn't squashed. Your child will be excited to be free to use his or her own camera and to have you close at hand as, together, you capture lasting memories.