Little Shutterbugs

Friday, September 28, 2007

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff


Photography is a prominent and widely recognized art form, and increasingly, a popular hobby among children of school-going age. With digital cameras and computers becoming commonplace in many households, photography is now accessible to all members of the family, including the little ones.

Photography is a unique way to cultivate an aesthetic sense in kids. Armed with a lens and with the purpose of taking a good shot, children learn to look more carefully at the world around them, become more observant. They learn to recognize beauty everywhere they look. They forget to be "bored" all the time, and instead to enjoy observing their surroundings. The resulting photographs can provide a glimpse into the unique perspective of a child. Like any good hobby, photography can help kids develop their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. A shy child may be able to express herself through pictures. A hyperactive one may learn to calm down and focus on the task on hand. Photography is a great way to develop a young mind's interest in science and nature. When outdoors on hikes or picnics, it provides a way to reinforce the wise saying, "Take only pictures, leave only footprints". A child who learns to capture memories and appreciate beauty is much less likely to vandalize and sully nature.

Recently, photography has been used as a tool to empower children who live in marginalized communities or who face crisis situations, to give them a voice and a means to express themselves and to boost their self-esteem. I highly recommend watching the Oscar award winning documentary Born into Brothels. This is a heartbreakingly beautiful chronicle of a project where photographer Zana Briski went into the red light district of Calcutta, India and armed children with cameras. The perspective of these little photographers provides an unforgettable glimpse into an otherwise bleak and oft-forgotten world. Another example is a UNICEF project allowing tsunami-affected children in Thailand to express themselves through photography.


For parents interested in getting their child involved in photography, there are several ways to go about doing it. There are photography resources available on the internet, as well as book devoted to photography for young ones. While photography equipment can be astronomically expensive, it is important to start with relatively inexpensive equipment so that the child can be allowed to "play" with the camera without a major crisis developing if the camera is accidentally broken or dropped. Digital cameras are ideal because one can shoot hundreds of pictures without having to spend the money on film, printing only the ones that are desired. Perhaps the whole family (aunts, uncles, grandparents) could get together and gift the child a camera as one "big" birthday or holiday present. Perhaps the parents could purchase a basic no-frills digital camera at a low price, or even find a used (second-hand) camera that may be perfect as a starting point. Don't forget to remind the child of the responsibility that goes along with taking pictures: that they need to ask their subjects politely before they take pictures, and respect their subjects' privacy.

Here are some ideas for Photography Projects for Kids:
  1. For very young photographers, one could play games where the child takes pictures based on a theme: it could be a color (parent and child walking around the neighborhood taking pictures of everything
    that is "red", say), or a letter theme (taking pictures of things in the kitchen that start with the letter "L", say), or a pattern theme (find "stripes" in the garden and take pictures of them).
  2. Host a mystery photo contest: have the child take pictures of common household objects in strange angles and close-ups and then see if the rest of the family members can identify what they are.
  3. Let the child take pictures, then convert the best picture into customized gifts for family and friends- such as a jigsaw puzzle for a friend or a sibling, or a photo calendar for a
    grandparent, or a T-shirt for a special aunt.
  4. Older kids can be nominated as the "official photographer"for events such as a family reunion or their sibling's birthday party, and asked to document the event as completely as they can.
  5. With the help of parents, kids can make a travel guide to their city- a scrapbook with captioned pictures of all the touristy places, attractions, parks and restaurants they love best.

I'll be back next month with an article on Clutter-Free Gifts.
See you then!

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This post was contributed by Nupur from One Hot Stove


Excellent Meeta. We gave Little an old camera this Summer so it's really good to read some more ideas of how he can make the most of using it.

Looking forward to the clutterfree gift article. I've already had to warn my mother off buying gifts that will take up too much room and just collect dust. In the run up to Christmas this will become a regular thing where she phones to ask if she can buy them this and that and I say NO! At least she calls to ask!

September 28, 2007 at 9:04:00 AM GMT+2  

Great article, Nupur!

Medha had my old digital camera on our summer vacation when we drove from NYC to Halifax. She kept herself busy through the long drives and she now excels at self-portraits! I hope to enroll her in DP classes for kids once it gets colder. We did the 'guess what' this is as she took pictures and close-ups of things that we drove past - it is so much fun!

Have a great break!

Anonymous said...
September 29, 2007 at 6:20:00 AM GMT+2  

Manisha, it is fantastic to know that Medha enjoyed her camera during your family vacation. Self-portraits?? How does one do camera self-portraits? Do you capture your reflection, perhaps? Or use the timer? Medha is going to have to teach us :)

Nupur said...
September 30, 2007 at 11:47:00 AM GMT+2  

It's tough to do self-portraits (SP)with a camera that does not have a flip-out/swivel LCD, which I think is proprietary to Canon, as far as digital (still) cameras are concerned. The camera Medha uses is my 5 year old Sony S85. So you have to turn it around and point it at yourself and take a picture. It takes a fair amount of practice to figure out how to frame the picture while looking into the lens, given a particular zoom! I still can't do it so well - apart from the fact that I always frown into it. :-D SPs can be reflections, too. She has pictures of her ears, her lips, her feet and her hands as she kept herself busy with all her accessories, too.

I first gave her my 35mm film camera because I wanted her to know about film cameras. But lately she goes through a roll of film like it's water so I figured it's best to upgrade her to the digital camera! The best part is that she has a lot of fun with it and comes up with some really creative pictures.

Which is why your article really resonated well with me!

Anonymous said...
October 3, 2007 at 6:21:00 AM GMT+2  

Nupur, this article is sensational. As a keen photographer I am always encouraging Soeren to see the beauty of the world through a lens. We are a pretty neat team and he is forever helping me look for great shots. I bought him a few of these one-way cameras and the pictures he has been taking are quite interesting. They'd probably fall under the guess what category. The added bonus about this type of hobby is that one reviews the beauty around us in a different light.

Thanks for this article!

Meeta K. Wolff said...
October 6, 2007 at 2:22:00 PM GMT+2  

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