*** For Part I, see this post.
When teaching photography to a kindergartner, I taught the very basics. Because, well, they are kindergartners. My goal was to give them confidence and to teach them to have fun with photography. Not necessarily to teach them to be the next Ansel Adams. I feel that kids naturally have a gift for seeing things differently than adults. They see things that we miss, so I wanted to encourage them to do their thing and not give them too many rules.
I also wanted them to be excited about photography. If they are excited about it then they can start to understand why their parents want to take pictures of them. Photography is awesome because it can freeze time. Cameras are magic like that. I know when I taught Brayden that I was making a memory rather than just taking a picture he was happier about being in front of the camera. If your kids can share your love of photography with you it will make taking pictures that much more fun. For everyone.
Onto the lesson. I taught the kids that there are only two rules in photography. First, whatever you are taking a picture of should make you feel something. It should make you happy or even sad. It can be pretty or maybe even ugly. It should just make you think. And, second, have fun. There’s no point in taking pictures if you aren’t having fun with it.
And, while there are only two rules, there are a few things that we can do to make our pictures look better.
- Hold the camera still. If you move the camera your subject will be blurry and we won’t be able to tell what you are taking a picture of.
- Hold the camera level. No, not all pictures have to be level. But, I feel that if you want to take those funky, intentionally wacky pictures, you first must learn to take pictures correctly. Then you can get crazy with it.
- Point of interest. Your point of interest is whatever you want to take a picture of. And that is what we call our subject. Know what you want your subject to be and make sure you can see it through your viewfinder.
- Background – Look at what is behind your subject. If you are taking pictures of a pretty tree do you want a parking lot behind it? Probably not. Try walking around to see if you can get a prettier background behind your subject.
- Perspective – Where you are standing will change how your picture looks. If you get really close to your subject, it will become bigger. If you get really far away, it will get smaller. Try laying on your belly or even on your back to get different views. The cool thing about being a kid is you are shorter than most adults, which means you see things very differently than we do. Kids can take amazing pictures because of all the things you see and adults often miss.
- Lighting – Your camera is like your eyeball. It needs light to be able to see. When you get up in the middle of the night you probably have a nightlight in your room, which helps your eyes see in the dark. Cameras have a flash, which are just like nightlights that help your camera see when it’s dark.
When it’s not dark you want to either pick all light or all shade for your picture. Otherwise, your camera might get confused and not know if it should take a picture of the bright light or the shade.
After the short lesson (about 10 minutes) we went outside and took some pictures. I had 3 Fuji Instant Mini cameras and that worked out perfectly because there are 3 teachers who each have a group of 9 kids. When it wasn’t their turn to take a picture the kids could practice seeing through the viewfinder with their cereal box cameras.
Last night the kindergartners had an art show to present their pictures and drawings. Imagine my surprise when I saw that I was quoted alongside Picasso and Van Gogh!
I was really impressed with what some of the kids came up with! We didn’t talk about leading lines or framing or even the rule of thirds, but I was surprised to see how many of them used those concepts naturally.
*** Some iPhone shots from the Kindergarten gallery.
Whether you are teaching photography to a group of kindergartners or just your very own, have fun. If you have fun they will too!