In February, 1900, the first Kodak Brownie camera was introduced to the country and photography became a past time that was made fun for America’s children. They were specifically marketed towards children and could be purchased for $1.00. It was a sturdy little black camera that was very easy to operate. When they bought a Brownie, the child was able to join the Brownie Camera club and enter photo contests for prizes.
Today, cameras can be a bit more sophisticated, however, so can our children. They’re using computers at the age of three and four. So, to introduce a 7 or 8 year old to the serious world of photography is very reasonable. You could begin by using an inexpensive point and shoot camera, rather than a high-end digital camera with all the bells and whistles. There’ll be plenty of time to graduate to the more complicated cameras once you’ve taught the child the basic operation and handling and they’ve demonstrated a serious desire learn photography.
The first lesson needs to be interesting and fun. If you get bogged down in mechanics, the child may become bored and lose interest quickly. Make it exciting. Get them their own fanny pack, teach them how to set it up with their camera and accessories, and take them out to a place where they can experiment with their new camera on subjects they find interesting. For example, if they like animals, find a park with a lake that has wildlife.
Start with the basics, don’t overwhelm the child with too many details. Have him hold the camera and identify the major buttons necessary to take a picture. Explain how to turn the camera on and how to insert the memory disk. Then show him how to use the viewfinder. This would be a good time to teach the child how to add interest to their photograph by shooting the subject off center. Allow him to experiment, guiding him to get some quality shots and enjoying the process.
Once you’ve finished the session, take the time to download those very important first pictures to your computer and print them. Discuss each photograph with your child; the good points as well as the areas needing improvement. Make up a little scrapbook of the “First Photo Shoot”. Take the best of the lot and put it in a frame to be displayed proudly. Encouraging the child may just result in a budding photojournalist who will soon be trading his little fanny pack for a full-fledged, quality camera case full of high-end cameras and accessories.