Photography can be a great hobby and an educational tool, but it can also be intimidating. Take your time and enjoy learning about your camera as you practice and get more comfortable taking pictures.
Make sure that you and your parents have tested your camera, fully charged it or installed new batteries, and have read through the manual. Always remember to carry your camera in a padded bag and only wipe the lens with a dry, soft cloth. Make sure your memory card is in place.
Use the automated focus and flash modes when you are first learning about your camera. This allows you to get used to the feel of the camera and to learn what each button does. It also helps you to think about composition rather than worrying about more technical aspects such as shutter speed or aperture, which can be learned later.
Once you have done a few shots with the automatic settings, start experimenting. Don't be afraid to take a lot of photos and experiment with various settings and viewpoints. For example, try taking close-ups and pictures that are farther away.
Learning How to Take a Good Photo
Taking a good photo is about more than learning how the camera operates. It also involves learning how to create an interesting finished photograph.
The thing or person you are photographing is called your subject. As a young photographer, your subject matter might be very different than what an adult photographer might choose. To get you started consider taking photos of these subjects.
- Favorite Toy - Whether you still sleep with your favorite childhood teddy bear or not doesn't matter. You can still capture this favorite item forever in a photograph.
- Family Members & Friends - Be sure to ask permission before taking photos of people. Try posed portraits where people are ready to have their picture taken, and candid shots that are more like surprise pictures of people in action.
- Pets - Pets are perfect subject matter for young photographers. Be prepared to run after your furry friend who might not sit still as well as your human subjects.
- Nature - Head out to your backyard and look for beautiful and interesting items you can capture in a photograph.
- Architecture - Look around your neighborhood for interesting buildings to photograph. Maybe your neighbor has an old Victorian home or perhaps that old barn across the street might make a great shot.
- Yourself - Consider taking "selfies" to help you learn more about photography. Try including your friends in your selfies to practice framing your shots to get everyone in the picture.
Changing your position and perspective can greatly change the way a photo turns out. Here are some easy ways for you to add variety to your photos.
- Ups and Downs - Choose a simple subject and take several photos from a variety of perspectives. Place the item on a table and take a photo of it from eye level and then take one from above the item and one from below. You can use the same method when photographing a friend. Take one photo while standing next to him, then lay on the floor and take another.
- Close-Up and Far Away - Try taking a photo of a subject from varying distances. A close-up photo will reveal details such as eyelashes on a person or pet and freckles on a nose. Standing a farther distance from your subject will not give you as much detail, but will give your viewer a better idea of the context. For instance, if you take a picture of your dog close-up, the photo will reveal the details of his face, but won't let the viewer know whether your dog is outside playing Frisbee or sitting on your living room sofa.
Games and Activities for Child Photographers
There are many easy and fun activities that can help you learn the fundamentals of photography.
- Frame It - To help you learn how to see the world through the lens of a camera, take a picture frame (remove the glass) or cut a frame from cardboard. Hold this frame up and look at the world as if you are looking at a photograph.
- Scavenger Hunt - Find a buddy who is also interested in photography and compile a list of items that you would like to find to photograph on a scavenger hunt. Head over to My Kids' Adventures for tips and ideas to help you arrange the hunt.
- Photography Contests - Consider entering some photography contests geared for children.
- Stories - Use your camera to create stories. Write a short story and then take photos to illustrate it. For instance, you could write a story about a favorite teddy bear and his adventures in a park by taking photos of your bear on a swing and going down a slide.
- Alphabet Photos - There are letters everywhere, on cereal boxes, store signs and other everyday items. Try spelling your name by finding each letter on various items and photographing it. Then print the photos out and create a collage to spell your name.
Editing Your Photos
Once you have taken your photos, its time to view and edit them. Have a parent help you get your photos onto a computer to edit. Here are some fun ideas on how to use your photographs.
- Magazine Cover - See your face on the cover of a magazine! Big Huge Lab's Magazine Cover: Be a Super Star creator lets you upload your photo and choose a title and other customizable options.
- Pixlr-o-matic - Upload your favorite photo and use various filters, borders and effects to make your shots even cooler looking.
- Jigsaw Planet - Turn your favorite photo into an online jigsaw puzzle. There are many customizable options including the number of pieces as well as the shape of these pieces.
- Frames & Fun - Choose from a wide variety of frames and animations to bring life to your favorite photos. For example, upload a photo and with a click of a few buttons you can see it as a painting hanging on a gallery wall.
Give It Time
As with all new activities and hobbies, it will take time and effort to be able to effortlessly produce good photographs. Don't become discouraged if you don't catch on immediately because even the world's best photographers had to learn the basics first!