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Jennifer Klepper is an ex-corporate attorney turned PTO president, volunteer child advocate and Cwist contributor. She is leading a discussion on inspriring curiosity and independence in girls with nature. Read and Comment »
Tracey Clark is a photographer and mom of two who created the photo blog Shutter Sisters. Her daughter, Julia, is shown above. Read more »
Sorry, Tracey Clark is no longer taking questions.
Photography is a fun and immediate art form that gets kids excited and more in tune with the world around them. The ability to capture something of interest to them in a photograph (whether a friend, family member, something from nature or anything at all), lights an artistic fire within them that will help keep them engaged and captivated by their surroundings.
As a professional photographer and a mother of two sharp-shootin' daughters, I offer these simple suggestions to parents looking to spark their own children's creativity though photography.
Give up the camera. Cameras are high-ticket items, so it's understandable that most parents are hesitant to hand them over to a preschooler. But speaking from experience, if you teach your children how to properly handle a camera, use the wrist strap and set a few guidelines, they will rise to the occasion and gain the camera confidence they need to find their inner shutterbug. And if you're still not convinced, consider one of the many cameras made especially for children.
Don't edit the photographer. It's our nature as parents to want to guide our children. Unfortunately, when it comes to their individual artistic flair, our best intentions to guide them can often influence and even squelch their vision. Since I believe that there is no wrong way to take a picture, I encourage parents to give their child the room to do it their way. Seeing the world through your child's eyes can be enlightening. Give them the freedom to capture what they see as photo-worthy and be prepared to be inspired. Keep in mind that sometimes the experimental or even accidental photos can be the most interesting.
Take it outside. Since photography is one of the few creative mediums that travels well, encouraging your children to shoot pictures while out and about keeps them busy and entertained no matter what kind of adventure you're on. Consider bringing your camera:
- on a neighborhood discovery walk (a favorite of ours)
- to a sibling's sporting event
- to an apple orchard or pumpkin patch
- to a local nature center or wildlife preserve
- while playing at the park
Click it up a notch. Even professional photographers can feel uninspired sometimes. To keep your little shutterbug snapping away, consider challenging them to keep photography engaging and fun. Here are some ideas to help motivate your kids along their photo journey:
- Offer a specific theme for your child to photograph (using colors, shapes, textures, letters, etc).
- Write a list of items for your child to find and snap for a photo scavenger hunt.
- Enrich imaginative play by having your kids shoot photos of a dress-up fashion show or family rock concert.
- Encourage your child to shoot a series of pictures that tell a story.
- Get your child to look at the little things and zoom in and capture the smallest details of their world inside the home and out.
- Have your kids do a portrait session with their stuffed animals or action figures.
- Teach them how to use the self-timer for self-portraits or group shots.
Put pictures to good use. The beauty of the digital age is that you don't have to spend the money on every snapshot your child takes. The downfall is that too often our photos remain trapped on our computer. Once the pictures are taken, it's important to parlay at least a few choice shots into something tangible. Simple traditional frames, photo albums or scrapbooks of your child's handiwork will give them something to be proud of.
Unique photo gift items can be found at a variety of photo websites or kiosks at your local convenience store. These are fun ways to honor the work of your little photographer.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to the family fun you can have with photography. Don't be afraid to experiment with your camera and let your kids do the same. Take tons of photos and learn with your kids as you do. You can develop your talents as a shutterbug at any age, you just have to click.
So tell me, what do you and your little shutterbug like to take pictures of?
Sorry, Tracey Clark is no longer taking questions. Feel free to comment on the article and let us know what you think about the topic.