If you are like me, due to COVID-19 school shut downs, you have recently become a 24/7 cook, teacher, housekeeper, entertainer and therapist. Keeping kids occupied with rich activities is a challenge, I get it! I have three busy boys of my own and as tempting as it is to rely on iPads and Kindles, this is an opportunity for me to teach them things like cooking, laundry and most importantly to me, to be my future assistants! They love photography and beg me to use my “big cameras”. I tend to allow the to shoot more with my phone or my iPad but occasionally i’ll let them play with lights and the big cameras. I’ve taught a few kids’ photography workshops in the past and as we all know, kids LOVE to take photos. I thought this would be a fun thing for me to write about and hopefully give you a little project for your kiddos to work on. Whether they photograph themselves, the family pet or just items around the house, this activity can fill some time and you might just be surprised at how creative your budding snap happy little one can be. The age you start this depends on your child and what you think they can handle (let me rephrase that, what you think they can handle without breaking the camera). One thing I teach in my kids class is that it doesn’t really matter what gear you have. A phone camera, old digital point and shoot are just fine. A great photo doesn’t require good gear, it just requires thoughtfulness in what you are photographing.
For this first lesson, I’m starting with composition. One thing I see a lot is students not taking the time to frame up what they see in the viewfinder. This lesson is meant to get your young photographer in the mindset of looking through at the screen and framing with intent. I want them to purposely and deliberately compose the frame. In a future class I will suggest shooting lots of versions on a subject but the goal in our first class is to really take our time to frame up our subject with purpose. Less is more here. Your student should try several set ups, try moving things around, try moving the camera around, but really the intention here is for the photographer to look at what they are shooting, how they are framing and be intentional about the photograph.
To start, be sure your young artist is familiar with the camera, auto setting is fine here. We are just going to frame up our photos for this lesson. Basically we are cutting our frame into a grid and placing something interesting at the intersecting points or at least is thoughtfully filling each third. You want to draw imaginary lines through the photo into equal parts in a grid, the lines can go vertically or horizontally. From here we are going to think about framing our subject (your subject can be literally anything but I do suggest starting with something stationary so you have more control over it.. meaning your new puppy might not be the best thing for this subject). You could use a bowl of fruit, an older sibling, your parents or even your backyard or like my kids, they like to do portraits of their stuffed animals.
Ok, we have our camera on auto, our subject in front of us. What are we looking at? Look for curves or lines in your subject, things that carry your eye to the main subject you want us to see. Use these lines and curves to your advantage (we will go into this in further detail next time). The most important part of the photo should fall on one of the intersecting points where you drew that imaginary set of lines. Below is an example of the rule of thirds and framing. I rarely put my subject right smack in the middle unless i’m deliberately doing some sort of graphic composition. To start this project, try to fill each third with something interesting. You are filling the thirds either vertically or horizontally. I like to put the important objects or your “hero” in an intersecting point like below.
Are you ready to start taking some photos? I would love to see what you come up with, please join my facebook page, i’ll start a thread there so you can post your photos . I’ll make comments and suggestions. I can’t wait to see what you and your artist create! The next challenge will be leading lines. Are you ready? Let me know what other things you would like to learn about in photography.