As a parent, I’m always on the lookout for good hobbies to introduce my daughter to. I think we all want our kids to grow up to be ethical, kind, responsible individuals with a keen sense of self and an awareness of all that is around as well as a sense of where they fit into this world, what their place is and how they can contribute towards society. Yes, it is a lot! I think, as parents, we want our kids to be the very best individuals that they can be and we try in our own unique ways to help them grow and develop.
Our Kids, Ourselves and Our Parents
These days, kids are exposed to cameras, in the form of cell phones, from a very early age. My daughter was snapping away on my cell since before she could walk. It was only last December (2016) that she got given her “very own camera”. At the time I wasn’t too sure if it was the actual adventure kit (camera, binoculars & torch) that had her jumping up and down in excitement or if it was the fact that she had more “Queen Else and Anna” (from Frozen) things to add to her collection. Either way, I had a happy kid.
It was early in January 2017 that she wanted me to “make her camera work” so I, reluctantly, went out and bought the film for her camera. As some of you will recall, a film has limited shots and our parents (certainly MINE) kept reminding me that film is expensive – never mind the developing – and that when my 24 shots were up “that’s it!” and I would have to wait to get my next film. So I gave my daughter, Courtney (4 years old), the same “lecture” (although my mother called it “advice”) that my parents gave me when I was about 10 years old. She very excitedly said “ok, ok, ok mommy! I promise!” but all I saw were her ecstatic eyes and I imagine her mind racing about the millions of photos she would take. But that is not what I want to share with you here. I want to tell you about the incredible changes I have seen in my daughter as well as the things that she has learned from very young. Of course, there are a number of factors that contribute towards who our kids become. Photography has been one of those things that have had a big positive effect on my child and I know, without a doubt, that you child will benefit and grow in ways that you cannot fathom.
The Benefits of Photography for kids – what photography can do for your children (and for your relationships with them).
It is never too early to introduce your kids to photography! We do, without even being aware of it, when we show our kids pictures and photos even before they can talk. As soon as they can hold your cell phone give it to them to play around with the camera function. Of course, keep an eye out that it doesn’t go straight into their mouths or that they don’t somehow manage to reset your phone to “factory settings”. That is not fun!!!
The Incredible Benefits of Photography for your child/children
1) Improve fine motor skills and co-ordination
For very small children photography helps develop and improve their fine motor skills and co-ordination. Holding a camera still and pushing the buttons can be quite the challenge for a young child. Once they do master this not only will it help them with other skills that require fine motor coordination such as writing but it will give them a sense of achievement as well as a confidence boost.
3) New perspectives
4) Helps kids to slow down
There is always so much going on with all the busyness and fullness of the world around us that it can be extremely overwhelming for a young child. Looking through the viewfinder or on the LCD screen of your cell helps your child to narrow their view of the world and gives them a whole new perspective of all that is around them. I have found that it has an amazing, almost unbelievable ability to calm my daughter down and for her to slow her thoughts. When she is upset or angry (unless I think she will put my phone in the hand basin or throw it on the floor) and I give her her “Queen Else” camera it usually helps her to calm down. Taking a closer look at the world around her helps her to shift her focus and look beyond just herself.
With older children, learning photography can help them to develop a sense of pride and satisfaction with their achievements. Because they are older children, you can increase the scope of information you impart to them. They will most likely be able to grasp the other concepts and techniques in photography such as Aperture, Shutter speed, and ISO. If you would like to read more about these concepts check out: The Holy Trinity: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO Your child will see how they are improving in their abilities and you can teach them more and more over time thereby, once again, adding to their sense of accomplishment as well as their abilities as a photographer.
Young kids see the world as revolving around them and this is understandable, even essential for their development. I found that 90% of the photos that my daughter has taken are of herself. I have about 20 shots of her forehead and countless more of her toes. This is an excellent way for our children to develop an innate love for themselves and for their self-esteem to become a foundation from which they live their lives. My daughter takes photos of her star chart to show her teacher, friends, family (the manager at the local supermarket, random people we pass in the mall…everyone!). She basically takes photos of her life in totality. This enables children to document aspects of their lives and develop a better understanding and concept of time.
9) Grow in knowledge
10) Gives children the opportunity to communicate their ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
11) Expands their vocabulary considerably.
12) Strengthens connections between visual and other forms of expression.
13) Provides children with the opportunity to be innovative.
14) Stimulates children to develop their own ideas on design.
All children at times struggle to express how they are feeling or even to tell us what is wrong. Sometimes they don’t even know themselves what they are feeling. Give your child their camera when you see that they are struggling with something and let them go and photograph whatever it is that they want to. That can help them express what they are struggling to understand. When they have finished ask them if they would like to show you what they shot and tell you what it’s about. My daughter happily obliges and the next hour is spent of her telling me the most amazing (and detailed) tales of this snail who was chasing the colony of ants or of that beautiful butterfly on the flower who is a getting food (and toys) for her kids.
It is also a great way for quiet or shy children to find their voices and grow in confidence. You will notice very early on how your kid starts to interact more with those around them. It is as though they temporarily “forget” about being shy and for the time that they are behind the camera they get to see the world through a different set of eyes and share their extraordinary finds with others.
15) A Shared Interest With Your Children (Bonding with kids)
Spending time with our children is in itself one of the best things that we can do for them. Being able to share a hobby and joy of ours with our children creates more opportunity for quality time that we can spend with them. I get so much joy when my daughter scrunches up her eyes and watches me intently to see what I am doing. Of course, when I try to explain it to her she very promptly cuts me off with “ssssshhhhhhh mommy, I’m concentrating”.
16) Critical thinking & ability to analyze.
17) Improves problem-solving.
18) Fantastic decision-making skills.
19) Encourages planning.
20) Assists them with presentation skills.
Older children will be able to understand more than the little ones so we can teach them about The rule of thirds, Balancing elements, exposure and the little ‘tricks’ we have learned along the way. By focusing on these concepts they will be making a lot of decisions such as: What will my subject be? How should I frame my shot? How is the lighting? What angle do I want? They will also develop better problem-solving skills and be thinking ‘out of the box’: This image appears flat and dull. What can I place in the foreground to create a sense of relativity in this image? When composing the photo your child can learn how to use elements from their environment to help them in framing their shot and ensuring that it feels balanced.
21) Appreciation of Art, Science, and Mathematics
Photography is both an art and a science. As an art, photography assists your child to express themselves and develop their creativity.
As photojournalists know, a photograph can open a person's mind or even change it. Photographs are one of the most powerful ways to tell a story or make a difference in people as well as the world. Photography communicates in a language that we all innately understand. If you would like a better understanding of the differences between photojournalists and photographers read the blog: What is the difference between Photography & Photojournalism?
Photography is also a wonderful technical tool, teaching lessons in science, maths and computer skills. Your child will be assessing and learning about light, doing calculations and a number of other areas of knowledge. Photography will provide your children with an opportunity to improve their literacy while having fun.
22) Awareness and Respect of other people and their personal space
24) Personal safety
You can take this opportunity to teach your kids about their safety and the importance of not venturing off without your knowledge. It is also an ideal way to explain to them the importance of respecting other people’s privacy and that they should never take a photo of someone without permission.
26) Seldom bored
With the numerous skills that children can learn and how they can keep expanding on their ….. photography can be an enjoyable and captivating hobby. Whether rain or shine your children have an exciting hobby. They can at any time pick up their camera and get shooting - no more bored kids during vacation time.
27) But most of all, photography, especially digital photography, is just plain fun!!!!!