5 Great Photo Ideas for Kids at Home

If your kids are getting into photography they might be having a hard time picking subjects.  Here is a list of 5 things you can encourage your child to photograph plus a few tips on getting the best results.

Toys

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picture by Jason Huskey

Have your child pick a favorite toy to photograph. Encourage them to take pictures from many different angles. First do the normal straight on shot. Then get up over the toy, then down below and so on. Sometimes our first instinct when we see a subject is not always the best picture. When they are done taking pictures of the toy, review the photos with them. Each of you should pick your favorite photo of the shoot.

Another idea for photographing toys is to create scenes. Arrange toys so that they are doing something. Set up a tea party for Barbie or a spy mission for your son’s action figures. This can be especially fun with Legos. Have your child be creative in what they set up. Try to tell a story with the final photo.

Pets

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picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

If you have a pet that can sit relatively still try taking pictures of it. Let’s say for example your child is taking a picture of a cat. Get down on the cat’s eye level. Whenever we are speaking to a person we look them in the eyes. The same usually goes for animals.

The picture will be much more engaging if we can look directly into the cat’s eyes. We will feel like we are making friends with a gentle kitten rather than just observing some animal from afar.

If your pet is not looking at the camera talk to them a little. Have your child hold the shutter button halfway down to focus. As soon as the cat looks at the camera snap the picture.

If you are taking pictures of fish through glass make sure the flash is off.

Plants and flowers

Flower picture

picture by Dawn Huczek on Flickr

Go outside and find a flower or even just a leaf with vibrant colors. Try to get in as close as you can to these subjects. Most lenses will only focus a foot or two away from the subject. Any closer will be impossible to focus.

If your child is having trouble focusing at close distances you may be able to use the macro mode on your camera. Many point and shoot cameras have this feature built in. Look for a little flower icon to turn it on.

Macro mode allows you to focus at much closer distances. If you have a DSLR camera you will need a special macro lens. But don’t worry if you don’t have a macro lens because you probably have a camera phone that will do the trick. Iphones can focus about two inches away.

Family

Family and friends are always great subjects for pictures. Even poorly exposed or blurry photos of someone you love can make wonderful memories.

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picture by Valerie Huskey

Younger siblings will be hard to photograph if they will not sit still. To avoid some frustration for your budding photographer, volunteer to sit for a photo instead of letting them chase around their little brother or sister.

Position yourself facing a large window, preferably a north facing window. Make sure the camera’s flash is off. Position your little photographer with their back to the window. This will throw some beautiful diffused light on you, the subject, which will make the picture turn out very nice.

Remember this little tip when you want to get some great shots of your kids too!

Food

Food photography

picture by Jason Huskey

Finally, have a little fun arranging your dinner on a plate and let your child take a few pictures before digging in. It does not even have to be a fancy meal. A plate of macaroni will work fine. But think about the color combination a little. If you have a blue plate to put under the yellow macaroni this will make the picture more pleasing to the eye.

A shallow depth of field is used many times in professional shots of food. This means that only a small portion of the food is in focus. Usually the front of the plate and the back is out of focus. To achieve this effect you need to set your child’s camera to a wide open aperture. This will be a smaller F number. If your camera has Aperture Priority (A) mode use it to set a small F number. Try to focus in the center of the plate.

Above all remember to allow your child to be creative and have fun. Don’t try to teach technical terms too early. This will only serve to stifle their imagination. Review your child’s pictures with them and you will be in awe at how a child views the world.

What do your kids love to take pictures of? Let me know in the comments.

Teach Your Child to use the Camera’s Auto Modes

A young child should not be burdened with the task of figuring out how to make the best exposure. For kids under 7 just let them use the automatic modes. You may hear advice to never use the auto modes but don’t let this bother you.

If your child enjoys taking pictures just let them be creative. See where their imagination takes them. That being said, you can help your child start to understand a little more about camera settings by choosing different modes for them.

I will explain the different auto modes available on most cameras. Don’t be afraid to experiment with them.

auto modeAuto Mode

Your camera will make all the decisions in this mode. This is the best place to start for most beginners. The only thing you need to think about is finding a great subject and composing for an interesting picture.

 auto flash off modeAuto Flash Off Mode

This mode is the same as Auto except it turns off the flash. Your camera’s built-in flash generally creates unflattering light and shadows on your subjects. Use this mode when possible instead of Auto mode.

portrait modePortrait Mode

When taking pictures of people, this mode will tell the camera to blur the background. Messy backgrounds are often the cause of bad pictures. The camera will also soften the skin tones while sharpening other parts of your subject. Overall this creates a more pleasing portrait. All you have to do is compose and shoot.

landscape modeLandscape Mode

This mode will make colors more vivid. It will also set your lens to a small aperture so that more of the scene is in focus.

 

child modeChild Mode

Clothing colors will be more vibrant here while skin tones will be soft and flattering. Don’t expect this mode to always stop the action of a fast toddler though. In low light situations you will probably see some blur. Ironically this may not be the best mode for taking pictures of children. Instead, try out sports mode.

sports modeSports Mode

When shooting sports we usually want to freeze the action. This requires a fast shutter speed and that is exactly what Sports Mode will do for you. Flash will also be set to off.

 

close up modeClose-up Mode

Do not confuse this with a Macro mode available on some fixed lens cameras. Close-up Mode sets a small aperture so that more of your picture is in focus. In technical terms this creates a larger depth-of-field. This mode will not make your lens focus any closer than normal.

If you have a fixed lens camera with Macro mode it will also be designated with a flower. Turn Macro Mode on to allow your lens to focus much closer. Both modes are designed to take close-up pictures of your subject.

The beginning of understanding

As your child picks different subjects help them select the correct mode to get the best results. They will begin to understand that there is more to photography than just pressing the shutter button. They can learn all about the manual modes when they are ready. Don’t rush it.

Leave a comment and let me know what mode you shoot with the most and why!