Exploring photography with your kids?

This is my second in a series of posts offering ideas you can use to help your young photographer get comfortable with fundamental concepts.

Last time we walked through the very basics of photographic composition: reduce and simplify. With just those two words in mind, you and your child will both be taking better pictures.

Today’s activity expands the concept of composition a bit further. The goal is to play with the idea that there’s more than one way to see an object.

Equipment

Keep it simple. Just some eager eyes and any camera that provides immediate results — a smartphone or tablet work great.

Luddite Variation: You can even get old school and try this camera-free, using two L-shaped pieces of paper as a simple device to frame what you’re seeing and compose a scene.

Select an Object

Head outside and take something like a soccer ball or basketball. Let your junior photographer pick, but suggest they select something roughly that size. And no, your dog isn’t a good choice for this one. We’ll use him in a future post. My daughter selected a favorite doll.

Count to 20

Set your object in a place where it won’t roll away. A small table or bench works great.

Remind your child of the first lesson. Get nice and close. Reduce and simplify. Now take the first shot. The challenge is to take at least 20 different shots from all different viewpoints. High, low, from the side, above, below, near, far… you get the idea.

Your Turn

If your child allows, take a turn yourself. Maybe try a different object, but set up on the same table.

A sampling of our results from lesson 2.
A sampling of our results from lesson 2.

Discuss

Grab a snack and review the images together. Ask if she can believe it was possible to take 20 different photos of one single object. Which one is the favorite? The least favorite? Were there any shots that almost didn’t look like the object at all?

Bonus Rounds

If your child is ready for something a little more advanced, take turns challenging each other to capture the object with different goals in mind. Here are a few ideas to get started. Some are easy, some are really difficult.

  • Take a picture that makes the object look really big.
  • Take a picture that makes the object look really small.
  • Take a picture that makes the object look really silly.
  • Take a picture that makes the object look scary.
  • Take a picture that makes the object look lonely.
  • Take a picture that makes the object look close to something else.
  • Take a picture that only shows the object and sky.
  • Take a picture that shows the object and no sky.

Recap

“Learning to see” in photography means learning that every object can be perceived in limitless ways. A simple change in how the shot is composed can make a huge difference. You might also notice that your more interesting photos were from the most unusual angles.

That’s all for today but if you’ve still got the attention of your little one, give it another try. Pick a significantly different object and go!

Let me know how it goes, and share your images at #photofocusjr.