5 Engaging Photography Activities to Develop Observational Skills
Practicing photography is a great way to teach your child about observation, and get them excited about exploring the world around them. In addition to opening doors to lucrative and interesting career options, photography lessons have the potential to boost your child’s self-esteem through learning a new skill, as well as to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
If your child is expressing an interest in photography, but you don’t know the first thing about where to start with them, or even if you are looking for stimulating ways to engage your child creatively, this article is for you.
Here are 5 fun photography activities for kids!
- Color Scavenger hunt
A color scavenger hunt is great for younger children who are excited about photography but always come back with blurry photos with no clear subject. It will teach them to hone in on a core subject, as well as get them thinking about colors and composition.
Equipped with a cellphone camera, have your children wait for you to announce a color, and have them bring back a photograph for you whose main object is that color. Repeat for as many colors as you would like. Another fun variation is to give them a designated amount of time, and see how many photos they can come back with of different objects of the color you named. This activity can be enjoyed solo, or with friends and siblings!
2. Stop Motion Video
If you are looking for a more complex photography activity that will entertain an older child for extended periods of time consider a stop motion video. Stop motion is a multidisciplinary activity that combines sculpting, photography, and video editing to make short cartoons into short movies.
First, your child should choose their characters; these can be made of clay or even random items you find around the house. Then, they need to set up a background scene for their characters (blank poster board and white paper are great options, or these can be decorated to look like just about any setting imaginable). After they are all set up, have your child take a photo of their scene, then move the character ever so slightly, and take another photo. It is crucial that they not move the camera at all while taking photos, so try putting it on a flat surface and just clicking the button. Continue repeating this process to have your character “move” across the scene, interacting with other characters and participating in different tasks. It may sound complicated, but there are plenty of examples of stop motion by kids out there for inspiration!
3. Family member portraits
Having your child take portraits of their family members is a great way to have them learn how to work with living subjects, and think about what are ‘essential’ elements of that subject. Explain to your child that a portrait is a photo of a person or animal that tells a story about that person. Show them these examples of portrait photography, and ask them what they think about the person/scene pictured. Then, ask them to create a portrait for everyone in the family. They can write out a ‘plan’ for the portrait before beginning which can include details like clothing, setting, and whether it will be a close-up or full body shot.
4. Practice with different perspectives
To a novice, it may seem that there is only one way to photograph a specific scene, but expert photographers know that the person behind the camera does a lot to control what type of story is being told. This next photography activity is a great way to get your child thinking about how they can use the camera to portray the same scene in different ways.
Have your child pick a subject: it could be a doll, a bowl of fruit, or even a slide at the playground. Give them the task of taking pictures of this same thing from as many different angles as possible: from above, from below, in front of it, behind it, etc. Then, have them experiment with distance, photographing the object from up close and far away. Ask them questions about what is revealed and hidden in the different portrayals, and which types of portrayals would be most appropriate for different uses (an art museum, a magazine cover, etc).
5. Light experimentation
Another important photography lesson for your child is to make them aware of how to make the most of light and shadow in their compositions. A great way to do this is by having them photograph the same subject in different settings: once with natural daylight outdoors, another time with artificial light inside, and a third time in the dark with the flash. Have them compare the photos. It should become clear that in most cases, natural light is the best way to have a crisp and clear photograph. For a bonus, have them go outside again around sunset to photograph the same subject at that time of day and discuss how this photograph differs from the one taken in full daylight and the pros and cons of sunset vs daylight.
To make this photography activity engaging for younger kids, you can incorporate flashlights to manipulate shadow, or color-changing LED lights and watch in amazement as something that was one color appears utterly different in a different light.
After you’ve given these activities a try, your child may be looking for more formal photography lessons. Ivy Camps USA offers an exciting introduction to photography to children ages 6-14 via our Capture Your World Through Photography course. Learn more on our website, or schedule a free consultation to discuss which programs are the best fit for your child.