Teaching Kids Photography

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Who likes taking pictures?  Raise your hand!  Pretty much everyone likes taking pictures and even if they don't like taking pictures, I am sure that they like having pictures of people they love and events they have enjoyed.

Every couple of weeks I help teach a group of 8-11 year old girls.  When we meet together, we have the girls participate in activities from service projects to developing their talents to understanding good principles to live by.  This week, we had a photography night and of course I wanted to be in charge!  I was really nervous about how to approach this topic with 8-11 year olds.  With adults I can talk about exposure, shutter speed, aperture, how to do specific things with your camera, but how do I talk about photography with kids and it not go straight over their heads and for them not to feel overwhelmed with information.  Oh and I only have ONE hour to do it! I did a ton of research online and only came with a handful of useful websites, but I was able to gather some good ideas.  So here is how my lesson plan went with the girls.

First we talked about things to remember when taking pictures and I showed them examples of what I was talking about:
Lighting  - Taking pictures outside and using natural lighting the best time for picture taking is in the morning and the evening.  During the middle of the day if it is really sunny you will get harsh shadows.  It is ok if it is cloudy outside, you can still get some good pictures that way.  If you are taking pictures inside be sure to take your pictures in an area that has a lot of light and if you can take them near a window so that you can get some natural light coming in.

Angles - Move around and take pictures from all angles, not just straight on.  Move side to side, and up and down and get in close to your subject.

Backgrounds - Be sure to check what is in your background.  You don't want trees sticking out of peoples head and watch out for cars, fences, and power lines!  Sometimes you may want these things in your pictures, but make sure that incorporated in an interesting way and don't ruin your picture!
(Thank goodness for photoshop so that I could take out the trees and they could have a cute family picture.)

Rule of thirds - Divide your frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically, so that you have nine equal-sized parts (see example below).  The rule of thirds states that the four points where the lines intersect are the strongest points in which to place the most important feature of your picture.  Also, when your subject lines up close to one of the lines, it makes the picture more interesting to look at. Note: Sometimes it does look better though if your subject is in the center, it would depend on personal preference.

Mode Options - On cameras you have options to use auto, sports, night time, and probably some other ones to take pictures with.  It may be a dial on your camera or you may be under a menu setting, read your manual to figure out how to use these settings.  Use the person that looks like they are running when you are taking pictures of sports scenes or little kids running.  Use the person with a star when you want to take a night time picture.  Note: Professional photographers use different options and know how to adjust their shutter speed and aperture to get the exposure they want, so you will likely not find them using these pre-set options, but it is there to help the everyday person who wants to take good pictures.

People, things, and places - Remember to take pictures of people and make sure you are in the pictures too, so that you can have those memories.  Sometimes you don't have time to think about your background or lighting and you just need to take the picture because it the moment something is happening that is just so darn cute....

Taking pictures of things can help you to develop your creative photography and also take pictures of places you go to.  With the technology of digital photography you can take as many pictures as you like, so snap away!

Next we split into groups and I had them look through magazines and find examples of what we talked about.  Then they shared their examples.

Applying What You Learned
Lastly, we went outside (thankfully, the weather was perfect) and practiced our photography skills!
I LOVE this picture of the girls practicing their skills. 
If we had more time, I would have uploaded the girls pictures to the computer that I had with me and show off everyone's pictures.  Then they could see the creative and fun pictures the other girls took!
I gave them all this little hand out with photography tips:
 I know I had a lot of fun and I am pretty sure the girls did too!  If you need a short and sweet lesson plan to teach photography to kids, you are more than welcome to use this one (because I know how hard it can be to find one online).


  1. That sounds like so so SO much fun! You did a great job! I'd love to see what the girls actually came up with in the end. :)

    1. I would love to see them too. I had planned on having people share the pictures that they took, but we just didn't have enough time for me to upload everyone's pictures and then show them all. There is never enough time!