February 13, 2021 8 min read
One of the best presents my children ever got for Christmas was one of those Vtech Kidizoom cameras. You know the ones. Big, chunky and impossible to break (even when dropped in the bath tub) – fabulous!
That was 10 years ago, when the idea of children having their own tablets and phones wasn’t really *a thing*, but you know what? That clunky blue camera and the (pretty dreadful) photographs it took, sparked something.
It sparked interest in capturing images of their world. Snippets of their everyday lives. Fun times, special occasions and all those the mundane moments in between (the pot plants, the photos of their lunch and the cat…….. you get the idea).
Just like the 1 billion people currently on Instagram, my children caught the photography bug and discovered just how much they LOVED to take photographs.
10 years on from that Christmas, that seemingly indestructible blue camera is now in the hands of child number 5 who like the others, is busy discovering the joy of photographing random objects inside the house, his own feet on the school run and the moments that capture his humungous imagination.
For his older brothers and sisters, tablets and phones for children have now indeed become *a thing* and I’m continually amazed at how much time they can spend snapping away, shooting photographs that now take pride of place on their bedroom walls.
So why should you encourage children to take more photographs and how can they get started?
Toy camera, compact camera, tablet or for older children, a phone. If they can use it to take photographs and they’re not going to have you hovering over them worried that they might break it – it’s good enough. The quality of the photographs isn’t the aim here.
While it’s a great idea to provide gentle guidance to help your child improve their photography, don’t ever be tempted to tell your child that their photographs aren’t good enough and don’t go overboard with the *constructive criticism*.
These things will both have the same effect - To make your child overthink what they’re snapping at; to introduce doubt and to suck the creativity and joy out of what they’re doing.
I really do try to keep my input as small as possible because I’m aware that they don’t find the same things interesting and we have very different ideas about what makes a great shot. I would never want to stifle their imaginations. Children do have a uniquely special way of looking at the world with fresh eyes, but it sometimes doesn’t hurt to give them a theme or direction.
Something I find really helpful, is to have a simple list of photography prompts to hand. It’s really just a cobbled together list of the things around them in their environment, but it’s amazing how useful a list of usually-overlooked things can be.
I’ve attached my list of 65 simple photography prompts for children below or you can download it here to print.
They will of course love your feedback (they will in fact insist on showing you everything they take).
Going through their photographs with them for a little while and really taking an interest in pictures of their world from their point of view is time well spent and is a great confidence boost.
While children are much more likely to take notice of flowers and birds and insects, we don’t teach them about these things anymore.
My parents and grandparents could identify every tree, berry and bird call. Many children these days would be hard -pressed to tell a parrot from a pigeon.
Photography seems to foster a connection with nature that a lot of have lost.
There’s a learning curve if they want to go down that route, especially as they get older - Learning how to deal with light, different camera settings and how to properly compose images - But none of that is compulsory.
You will probably soon find that they want to bring their camera around with them everywhere, just in case they stumble across something interesting – like we all do.
Out of all the activities my children have decided to start, photography is by far the easiest because apart from the actual camera, or phone, or tablet, they really don’t need anything else.
They’re not professional photographers, so they don’t need photography lights, or backdrops or Photoshop subscriptions, so the outlay is fairly minimal.
Once they get older, they will probably want to play around with editing apps, but these are a fun nice-to-have and definitely not a necessity.
As a family, their photography habit has given us an extra reason to get outside together a little more. Extra walks and extra trips to the park. The same walks we’ve walked for years, with a little extra exploration. A bit more adventure. All of which is great for promoting positive mental health and general wellbeing.
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