“ Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
I remember my dad taking pictures of our family when I was little. He would get his settings right and shoot away, then mail his film in and get slides and prints back about a month later. The process was foreign and the results where always a surprise. It was so fun to see what turned out and what kind of mistakes were made. It was hard to let children learn to use a camera because the equipment was very expensive and delicate and the technical aspects could overwhelm the art.
Now the process is different. We take pictures and can look at them instantly. We delete the bad shots and focus on the good ones for editing and printing. As we shoot, the more we look the more we learn BUT, sometimes it can slow the shoot and take you out of the moment.
When someone is taking our portrait, I don’t think we should ever see what images they are creating. Let us think we are nailing it, that we are gorgeous and charming and the camera loves us. Enjoy being clean and ready and get out of our head, even if only for a little while.
My daughter Ellie is 2.5 and she is in a do-it-herself mode now. She loves art and knows I am a photographer so she is interested in what I do.
When it comes to introducing my daughter to this art, camera selection was important. If I hand her my iPhone I am immediately stressed about what she is going to do with it. We started with infant and toddler cameras that did not actually let her take pictures, she was almost immediately frustrated by that. Next we bought a user friendly camera that shows her the photos. The camera can be dropped and abused, which is essential. It has a flash and shoots on automatic, it also has a timer and a feature that turns the camera into selfie format. The on/off button so too small but it also turns itself off when on to long, so, that is OK. While it has way to many features and is a little over her head, for now, basically, it works well enough.
We started taking pictures outside, around the yard and with our dog. We only used her camera and would pass it back and forth. We would not look at the screen but worked on holding it right and making the shutter click. We also talked a lot about what we should take pictures of and Ellie had lots of ideas.
I want to encourage creativity and let her play. I also want to help, as needed, and let HER problem solve. The camera was in her diaper bag and when there were moments she wanted to take a picture, we would get it out.
Our next step was a photo walk. My friend Emily came over and we did a portrait exchange in our neighborhood. Ellie came along to help. Once she saw Emily and I taking pictures of each other with our cameras, she took hers out and began firing away. She seemed to understand how fun it could be and how taking pictures of friends was something special. She also decided to photograph leaves, flowers, bugs, her feet and whatever else she could. She even managed to add some filters, ha!
Here are some photos from our exchange. Ellie’s photos are included (see if you can pick them out)!