Do you have child or teen who is always taking pictures? You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get great results or to teach your kids how to. And you don’t have to have an expensive cameral, either. Whether you have a point-and-shoot, a Digital SLR, or just your phone, you can get amazing results on vacation, at special events, or just capturing life’s everyday moments.
Teaching Your Kids to Take Better Pictures
The advice I always give to people interested in photography: take a lot of pictures! You won’t know what works and what doesn’t if you don’t try. Experiment with different lighting situations, different perspectives, different subjects, and then analyze the results.
Also, it helps to study pictures you like that other people have taken. (And I’m including my photography to get you started!) Ask yourself:
- What is different about the pictures I like, versus the ones that aren’t as appealing?
- What is it about the picture that draws my eyes first?
- What time of day do I think this was taken?
To get you started, I’m sharing my top ten tips for taking better pictures.
Top Ten Photography Tips
1. Get close.
If you aren’t taking a picture of the scenery on purpose, then let the subject shine.
2. Take part pictures.
Capture the details by taking parts of babies, buildings, animals, etc.
3. Focus on relationships.
Let them shine through in your photos by not always posing them, or have people interact in some way like tickles or hugs.
4. Take images as well as pictures.
At Christmas I like to take pictures that capture the feeling of the season as well as the events. Birthday candles, Easter eggs, flowers at a celebration help capture the memories of the atmosphere.
5. Off-center your subject.
Imagine that there are lines dividing an image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. If you place your subject at any of these intersections you can create a dynamic picture.
Get the Curriculum for your homeschool group or co-op!
6. Frame it.
Windows, playground tunnels, and trees, all make natural frames for your subject. Or highlight a feature by isolating it—for example, hide part of your subject’s face to emphasize the eyes.
7. Change your perspective.
Shoot up or down instead of eye-level. If you are taking a picture of a small child or a pet, get on their level. Yes, I’ve taken many pictures lying in the grass on my belly! Snap the picture as they walk away instead of a front view.
8. Love your lighting.
If the background is brighter than the subject, use it as a opportunity to take a silhouette.
9. Take advantage of golden opportunities.
Take pictures about an hour to 30 minutes before sunset to get a beautiful golden tint to your photos.
10. Reflect on your subjects.
Notice the reflections you see in mirrors, water, windows, and other surfaces and take advantage of the view.
Capture the action! (And this one that I took with my phone came out better than the one with my “real” camera!)
Curriculum for Your Family or Homeschool Group + Co-op
After you have learned to take better pictures, you can spend time studying editing. My goal as a photographer has always been to get the best shot possible before editing, though. By doing so I can spend more time taking pictures, and less time working on them later. I encourage you to do the same, because you will learn so much more—and your pictures will be so much better—when you don’t have the mindset of “Oh, I can fix that later.”
So get out there and take some pictures. A lot of pictures! Because the best way to learn to take better pics is to practice, experiment, and have fun.
I’ve teamed up with Homeschool Mastery Academy to create a delightfully different curriculum for your homeschool group or co-op! You’ll find these tips along with lesson plans to teach a unit on Photography and Poetry.
Don’t have a group? We have resources to start one! Or gather a group of friends or your own family to enjoy this 5 week curriculum: Poetry and Photography: A Homeschool Group Study of the Power of Words and Images
Lesson 1: How to Write Pattern Poetry
Lesson 2: Writing Poems Inspired by Photography
Lesson 3: Tips to Take Better Pics
Lesson 4: Photography Field Trip Adventure
Lesson 5: My Photo Inspired Poem
What’s Included in the Curriculum Package:
- 24 Printables Total
- Course Introduction Handout
- Zip File Available for Immediate Download
- Lesson Plans for Each Week to Equip the Teacher or Leader with Minimal Prep Time
- Teacher’s Worksheet for Notes & Planning Your Lessons When Needed
- Inspiring Picture Packs for Teacher and Students
- Sample Poems Pack for the Teacher
- Field Trip Ideas
- Photography Tips Handout
- 6 Student Worksheet Handouts; Outlining Six Different Types of Poems and How to Write Them
- A Final Poem and Picture Worksheet for Students
- Additional Resources
- 2 Graphics and 1 Course Description Letter Designed for Sharing on Social Media or Use in Emails to Invite Others to Join the Study
© Kay Dawn Chance, Kay Chance Photography, and Cultivate My Heart, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material (including the photos in this post) without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kay Chance and Cultivate My Heart with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
This article was adapted from one I wrote for the 2015 Christmas Edition of Homeschooling Today Magazine.