Thinking back now, I don’t remember exactly when I first let my son use a camera. I was always working on a little photo shoot at home and he was always one inch outside my frame. So I guess he got interested in my camera because I used it so much. I started showing him things. We would set a little animal out and take its photo. He was so delighted to capture the image! As he got older, I would let his walk around and snap photos sometimes. He got a big talk about being careful. And he was.
When I upgraded to a new camera at the beginning of this year, I told him that my old camera was his now. For safekeeping, I still put it up in a bin it with mine but he can use it whenever he asks. Recently when we went to at the zoo I asked if he wanted to take his camera since I was taking mine and he was thrilled. He walked around half the day like a tiny photographer. Capturing moments. I was more excited to see his photos than my own!
Why my three-year-old has a camera.
I like that it gives him the opportunity to use something fragile. He places the strap around his neck and holds it so carefully with two hands. Kids need a chance to use breakable things every once in a while.
There’s also the ‘learning’ aspect of photography. I observe everything from the subjects he chooses (his sister, me, and, duh, animals) to how he carefully lines up his shot. Especially for a kid who is reluctant to pick up a pencil/crayon/marker, photography is a great way to be creative. He’s learning about composition and balance. He’s learning to archive time. When he’s older we can look at his photos and add writing to the mix. I can see millions of extensions into all sorts of subjects.
Photography also engages his natural curiosity about how things work. He fiddles with the switches and buttons to make the camera turn on and change to different modes (that he doesn’t yet understand) as he gets older he will experiment with settings and figure out how the whole thing works. It’s interacting with technology in a truly creative way.
I guess a lot of people at the zoo that day were surprised to see him with the camera because we got a lot of comments–all of the positive. When we got home I showed him his photos and he was very pleased. At this time, I wouldn’t discuss ‘good’ or ‘bad’ shots with him. I think the eye for that develops on its own. And maybe when he’s older he might ask how something can be made clearer and we can figure it out together.
Who knows, maybe he will end up like this kid! Ha! Now that’s passion.
What do you think? Do you let your kids tinker with photography?