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Activities,  May 22, 2007

YouthLearn's Introduction to Photography Techniques

Some Basic Vocabulary for Teaching Kids How to See... There's obviously much more to photography than the few aspects described here, but introducing the basics will teach the kids a fundamental understanding of how to think before taking a picture. This introduction will also give you a platform to move further into the aesthetics with older kids.

If you have already had kids taking pictures while introducing the camera and the camera's basic features, you have been stressing the importance of looking, seeing the big picture and making conscious decisions. Now you're ready to get into the core decision factors: angle, pan, distance, level, focus and framing.

By the way, it's important to use this common photographic vocabulary rather than apparent synonyms that have emotional connotations. Focus should be described as soft or sharp, for example, not "strong" or "hazy." Why? Because those kinds of words more closely describe the emotional effect of the finished photo, not the conscious decision-making process that went into creating the effect. You should explain this concept to the kids and get them comfortable with using the accepted terms of art so that everyone has a common vocabulary. Emphasize that before taking pictures, one must make conscious decisions.

We recommend introducing just one technique a day and letting kids practice, but you may want to make adjustments depending on your session schedules, the age of your kids and the scope of your program. Start by showing some photos from books of photography, especially any that reflect themes you are working on in your classes. Spend a few minutes discussing what some of the photos communicate or what they inspire the kids to think about. Do this every day as part of your photography lesson.

Most important, remember to teach the skills as part of a project. Introduce a skill, then do part of the project that uses it (or that does not need more advanced skills). You must introduce techniques slowly and then practice them, and that practice should always be in the context of an inquiry-based project in order to be meaningful.

Posted by wrivenburgh on May 22, 2007 | Activities