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Teaching young children how to use the camera

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At the school year I was given an opportunity to teach an after school club or 1st and 2nd graders teaching basic photography. I wanted to share with everyone some of the things that I’ve learned as I know many of you have wondered how you can get your own children into the art of photography!

1st and 2nd graders are not to young!

It’s been very interesting to see how these young children interact with the camera and the one thing I’ve learned is that they can handle a point and click camera, however, the key is moderation. I have learned that for this age range, especially when the child is with another child, 30-45 minutes is a good time frame to let them loose with the camera. More than that, they revert back to being 100% kid and forgetting the rules that you set up when you handed the camera over in the first place.

Set firm rules and go over them every time you give them a camera

For our club we have 4 rules.

  • As soon as you get the camera, put the strap around your neck. Each of the Easy Share Kodak’s that I use for the club have a badge lanyard attached to it so that the child can have the camera around their neck. The lanyards are cheap and can be found at Walmart or any hobby store.
  • Always hold the camera with one hand. This helps to stop the camera from swaying back and forth while the child walks.
  • No running. When kids run, they are children and tend to forget about the camera.

Whenever you hand over the camera, ask the child to recite the rules so that they are reminded what should and should not be done.

Teach them the basics of how to use the camera

  • Show them how to turn the camera on and off.
  • Show them how to check to make sure the camera is on Auto setting.
  • Show them how to press the button to take the photo.
  • Show them how to zoom in and out.
  • Show them how to review images that they have already taken.

I used to show the kids how to delete their images, however, due to a setting on the camera that turns off recording images to the card and shoot to internal memory, I stopped showing them how to delete. I explain to them that we can delete late on the computer.

Give them a goal

I have great luck with keeping the kids more focused if we make a game out of the photo. As we are walking I call out “Okay, now find something that is GREEN” and they search out things that are green to take pictures of. We have done this with shadows, reflections, colors, shapes and letters. It’s a great way to incorporate things they are learning in school as well!

Have fun

Make taking pictures fun. It’s not about rules of third or proper exposure. It is all about teaching your child to see the world in a different way. While you’re out taking pictures have the kids lay under a tree and look up and take pictures. Show them that it’s okay to look at things in a different angle than they normally would. Have them sit on the floor and see what they can see looking up.. a “dogs eye view” as I explain.

I’ve taught the entire school year so far, with 8 different kids each quarter,and we haven’t broken a camera yet and I’ve had the extreme pleasure of meeting some wonderful children and seen some incredible photos and I’ve seen a new world through their eyes!

If you have questions about this tutorial or would like to request a tutorial, please visit and post to the Tutorial Help & Request forum

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