March 1, 2020

If You Want Your Kids To Learn the World, Have Them Photograph the World!

Give your kids a camera, a little bit of beginning instruction, encourage their curiosity and they will reward your effort by seeing the world in a totally different, totally interesting way. Being behind the camera gives kids a chance to see the up-close details of people, places and things they ordinarily pay no attention to.  It’s fun! And it delivers surprising results, even for very young kids!

Everyone has his/her own special kind of curiosity and creativity.  Encourage your kids to “bring on theirs!” and their photographs will tell fascinating stories that may surprise and amaze you!  Taking photographs is all about the relationship between the photographer and the world around him/her, wherever the location may be. 

It does not matter what kind of camera you kids have – the latest and the greatest or simply their own prized cell phone camera.  So do not worry about this!

So, here are a few beginning bits of instruction we suggest you and your kids discuss before setting off on their newfound career in photography --- 


  • If you want to photograph a specific adult you meet or see, you absolutely must ask his/her permission.  To not ask would be an invasion of this person’s privacy. 
  • If you want to photograph a specific small child, a tween or a teen you meet or see, you absolutely must ask permission from his/her parent --- and then the child as well.  To not ask would be an invasion of the child’s privacy. 
  • Definitely consider beginning a discussion with the people you want to photograph. I’m betting you’ll find them very interesting. And, they will probably want to know something about you as well. 
  • If you enter a religious institution or an office building or a shop, etc., you must tell the person in charge why you want to take photographs and request permission to photograph anything inside the building. 
  • Pay attention to where you are standing when you decide to take a photograph. You do not want to block any vehicles or pedestrians going on their way! And you especially don’t want vehicles or people to run over you as you’re taking a photograph!! 
  • Don’t take tooooo long to press that shutter! You begin to interfere with the normal goings on around you when you take a long time, even if you are standing away from the center of the activity. People who don’t know you might begin to wonder who you are and why you’re taking so many photographs of “their space.” Besides, if you dally too long, your family will begin to roll their eyes and yawn and complain.


  • Make sure you are focusing on the subject you really want in your photograph.  How did that tree get in the way? What happened to the dog that was there? Why in the world did I take a photograph of this trashcan? To save you despair, make sure you can see the subject you want through your camera lens before you press the shutter.
  • Try not to place that subject that you are working hard to capture in the very center of your photograph; placing it off to one side just a bit will look much better. I promise! Trust me!

Side Bar

The best light for taking photographs is yellow light or golden light. And the best time of the day to catch this light is a half hour before sunrise and a half hour after sunrise; then a half hour before sunset and an hour after sunset (to catch the beautiful red alpenglow)

  • Photographs with people in them are more interesting than photographs without people in them.  I promise you that a year from now, a lake is a lake is a lake!  Try to capture some of the action going on around that lake and you’ll be much happier.  
  • But, having your family stand in a straight line looking back at you will make for a very, very boring addition in your scrapbook! And really everyone was having such a great time!! So, why not capture some of this good energy and emotion in your photograph?  You could ask your family to make some crazy gestures --- or silly faces --- or to jump on the count of three --- or maybe hum a tune and dance to it?
  • Give your photograph a title immediately! Make it a title that will help bring back the fun of the moment when you look at it three years from now.


Here are a few suggestions to start your kids thinking about what they might like to photograph: 

Dogs --- It would be fun to compare dogs you find in Paris to the dogs you find in Nevada and then compare both to your own dog.

Fences/Walls --- There are cities in Italy that are completely surrounded by high walls. There are villages in Peru that are surrounded by low walls. Then there are walls in Ireland that surround no buildings at all. Wonder if they all look alike?

Things In Your Favorite Color --- If you happen to love the color orange, definitely look for it in the Netherlands! 

Shoes --- Oh! Photograph shoes everywhere you go!

Doors --- Photograph city doors and country doors.

License Plates --- Wait until you see them! Some look sooo weird! 

Roofs --- I know you’re thinking there is no way you could ever be interested in roofs! But what if they are made of straw --- or of mud?  

Local Street Signs --- Photograph them in all sorts of languages. 

Hats --- Do boys and girls everywhere wear the same kinds of hats? Are you sure? You could photograph a collage of hats for you friends at home to see. 

Local Buses --- Our definition of a “bus” is anything that transports groups of people around a destination?  Beep Beep or no Beep Beep!

Balconies --- I’ve never seen a balcony I didn’t think was home to a great story! Go for it with your photographs! Tell the stories of the balconies you see as you explore. 

Jars of Mustard --- I’m betting mustard jars are different everywhere you go. Want to try to prove me wrong?

Candy Bars (of any kind) --- You just might need to sample what’s inside the wrappers, after you photograph them, of course. Yum! 

Catch a photograph of your family in front of that special restaurant that was everyone’s favorite.