Of all the arts media out there, it’s difficult to think of one that’s more kid-friendly than photography. Sure, there’s finger painting and crayon drawing, but nothing provides a window into a kid’s world quite like a photo. Handing a kid a camera helps us get to know them a little better while looking at a kid-view of the world helps us re-prioritize our own perspectives.
Of course, they’ll need the right equipment and a little training. Without coaching, your kids will bring you back 500 photos of the same duck. As they become more advanced, you can talk with them about their photos and teach them lessons on the elements of photography.
Take it slow by purchasing toy camera toys to see if it’s something they take an early interest in. Vintage photog parents will appreciate this Fisher Price changable picture disk camera in all of its 1960’s glory.
Of course, the best way to learn something is to have plenty of hands-on experience. There are lots of preschool-age appropriate digital cameras on the market, but this one from Playskool has a built in projector and allows kids to edit all on the same machine, saving you the trouble of uploading. If you want to keep the photos, you do have the choice to email or upload them. There are even fun stamps and sounds for kids to add to the images.
As kids grow older and their interest in photography becomes more serious, they can graduate to newer and better cameras. Before they do that, though, make sure they understand the fundamentals of photography. A great camera to help them learn how photography works is the Bigshot. Before using this digital camera, kids have to actually put it together themselves. Crank the lever and click to take panorama or even 3D photos.
Once you’re ready to purchase a grown-up camera for your kid, make sure you do your research. Here are a few tips for which type of camera you should look for:
– The size of the camera should fit well in your child’s hands
-The menu and interface should be easy to understand and use
-It should have the right zoom range for what your kid wants to shoot
-It needs a bright LCD screen that’s viewable even in sunlight
-Uploading should be easy without too many pieces or steps
For rough-and-tumble kids who love photography, you may want to pick up something like the PENTAX WG-10. It’s waterproof, crush-proof, and 10-year-old boy proof. I double-dog dare you to break this 14 mp beast.
And then there are those of you who feel that anything short of a DSLR just isn’t a camera. If this is you, you probably have an older DSLR hanging around that you wanted to pass down to your mini-photog, but If you’d like to buy something new, we’d recommend the Cannon EOS Rebel line. the SL1 proudly touts itself as being the smallest and lightest DSLR, making it perfect for smaller hands to hang on to. If you want younger or rougher kids to use a DSLR, don’t forget the waterproof casing.
Every good photographer knows that while good equipment is a lovely thing to have, great photography is all about a lot of skill and a little luck. In fact, some of the best photography in the world right now is being taken on iPhones by photographers who know what they’re doing.
Help kids practice and keep pushing them forward. Check out tips for kids from National Geographic photograhers and study great photography together while you discuss what makes a good photo. Finding a few videos that show the fundamentals of photography can help improve your kids’ photography skills exponentially.