8 Tips To Get Your Kids Into Photography This Summer

By Geoff Harris

How To Encourage Your Children To Take Photos.

If, like me, you've got school age kids, you approach the summer holidays with a mixture of relief and trepidation. Relief that you've got them through another academic year and are spared the school run for six weeks, trepidation about how to keep them happy, occupied and out of trouble for August.

One idea is to get them more interested in photography. While you may indeed lead a horse to water and find it won't drink, they might surprise you....

1) Get them their own camera

This sounds obvious, but it's important they are allowed to experiment with gear and learn through their mistakes, rather than borrowing your camera and lenses all the time.

Nothing is worse for kids than having a hovering parent nearby, wincing as they foul-up the exposure or accidentally bump a precious new lens. A second-hand digital SLR and kit lens is perfect, or even a film SLR from the 80s or 90s, which can be picked up for a song on eBay or Gumtree.

2) Find out what they are interested in

Little photographer
Likewise, don't assume that just because you like landscapes and nature, they will. Teenagers hardly ever think their parents are cool enough to want to copy them, so encourage them to photograph the subjects which they're into. Sport, fashion, music, pets for younger kids – maybe even landscapes and nature...

3) Let them make mistakes

löwenzahnwiese mir kindernEchoing the previous point, don't bombard youngsters with tips and information and picture critiques from day one. Did you learn how to use your camera in a couple of days?

Chances are you learned more through trial and error. So don't knock their confidence by pointing out obvious errors in exposure or focussing or composition – they are not going to be sitting an exam (and often it's just you showing off).

4) Help them edit and share


It's really important too that you encourage them to process and share the fruits of their labour as soon as possible. Picasa is a FREE and simple imaging software program from Google and has a ‘Do I Feel Lucky Button’ which gets things right 90% of the time.

Kids easily get distracted and if you don't urge them to get the pictures off the card, they're likely to forget about them and move onto something else. If they do take a great picture, and you help them edit it so it looks even better, their confidence gets a big boost.

Most kids are totally savvy using social media, so encourage them to share it. DON'T post a youngster's image on your site. They will cringe and it looks like you are showing off. Just as teenagers need their own music and fashion, they need their own type of photography, too – something separate from you.

Don't forget also to help them print the pictures. This is particularly important for younger kids, who will need less persuasion to hang pictures on their wall.

5) Don't assume they want digital


Boots, the high street chemist, can't keep up with the demand for back and white film at the moment, and many of the customers will be young 'hipsters' with a taste for the analogue and retro.

You might be impressed with your 50 megapixel digital SLR and Lightroom skills, but they might be more into mechanical cameras, old-school film effects and brands like Holga and Lomo. So don't force digital on them.

Photography is photography and you might end up learning something from them as they explore analogue techniques.

6) Don't dismiss smartphone cameras

Feet on a beach
Even if your kids have zero interest in conventional cameras, they might be receptive to the idea of being more creative with their smartphone cameras.

Encourage them in this by buying books about iPhone-ography for Christmas or birthdays, or smartphone accessories like mini tripods and clip-on lenses. The results you can get with a smartphone are really impressive with a bit of forethought and technique, so don't dismiss it as not 'real' photography.

7) Encourage them to enter competitions

Women's day
This is a great way to boost their confidence – another adult will be giving their work validation, and they will love the prizes and fuss made. Many of the big annual competitions for landscape, travel, portraits and even food now have junior categories.

Winning a competition, however small, could boost their confidence much more than your warm words, which they expect anyway. If one of your kids does win a competition or competition category, make sure you contact the local paper or TV/radio station so they get mentioned.

8) Encourage them to photograph their friends

Happy children standing upside down
While your average teenage boy might not be into this idea, girls may be more receptive, as they can photograph each other's clothes and make up. If their friends play in a band, both boys and girls will like the idea of going along to photograph the gig. For younger kids, they could photograph a friend's birthday party, or a day out with their mates.

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) - http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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