by Harry Flashman
Teaching children how to use a camera
have kept thousands of photographs I should have thrown away - however, they
do have a value. They teach me what I did wrong, several times over!
Looking over many of the shots showed me that I took a lot of shots of
almost exactly the same things. One wrong shot was repeated over and over
again, as if I expected God to come and fix the photo for me. He didn’t.
So, if you are teaching your children to take photographs, get them to take
several shots of the same subject, but vary the approach. Shoot in landscape
format and portrait formats. Shoot from above, low down and central
positions. If possible, with your camera, use different lenses or at
different extremes of a zoom lens.
Backgrounds can make or break a photograph. Teach your children to look at
the background as well as at the subject. Backgrounds do not add to a shot,
but they have the ability to ruin a shot. How many photographs have you made
with trees growing out of people’s heads?
Another problem which shows up with many new photographers is the horizon
line being off at a drunken angle. Teach your children to look critically at
the framing of the shot before squeezing the shutter button. And after, when
reviewing the shot in the LCD, to take it again if the horizon is skewed.
Teach your children how to hold a camera with two hands and none of this
one-handed approach while waving three fingers with the other and saying
“Nung, song, sam”. Despite anti-shake technology, there is a limit!
For me, one of the first ‘rules’ for photography is to Move In Closer. Make
the subject fill the frame. In other words, make the subject the obvious
‘hero’ and your child will get better photos.
Another factor to teach is that when illustrating a school outing, for
example, they will need to show where they went, as well as their class
mates who went on the trip. This is also a time to take plenty of shots, but
not 100 shots all the same!
It is important for your child to understand that good photographs are
‘made’, they just don’t happen. To sparkle up their shots, look for points
of interest to include in the viewfinder. Then work out how to really use
that point of interest in the shot. This may require shifting position, but
No lessons on photography can go by without mentioning the Rule of Thirds.
Placing the hero at the intersection of thirds can be a little hard for
youngsters to understand, but even to show them to place the subject
off-center can be enough.
Provided your child is a teenager, he or she is old enough to be taught the
different ‘modes’ offered by almost all digital cameras these days. This
includes ‘Portrait’, ‘Sports’, ‘Flash’ and ‘Fireworks’ and many others.
Teach them that modes just take some of the mechanical/optical steps away
from the photographer and uses the automatic functions in the camera
instead. However, the modes do not signify the only way to take a sports
photograph, for example.
Just as their teachers grade school homework, sit down with your budding
photographer and discuss their images. Get them to understand which shots
are good, and which are not so good, and why.
One of the most important items for new photographers is a small notebook
and pencil. Teach your children to make notes as to the camera settings they
are using for every shot. Then while going through the shots with them you
can see areas where they can improve over the settings they used to take the
shot. But with no notebook, both of you are flying blind.
Older children can be introduced to the basics of exposure values, using the
Aperture Priority mode and the Shutter priority mode, and the concept of ISO
ratings. They can then take shots moving between the three variables and
have a very practical lesson in how these affect the final images.
Photography is a good hobby for children and teaches them to think and look
critically at their own images.
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