Photography is a hobby that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, even kids. Although cameras and photography equipment expenses add up quickly, there are plenty of entry-level cameras designed for children that won’t break the bank. With the right camera, children can capture images, preserve memories, and create artistic masterpieces.
There is no perfect age for children to start working on their photography skills. If a child expresses an interest, they’re ready to begin shooting with an age-appropriate camera. Children as young as three have the comprehension and motor skills needed to work a camera. They may not understand meticulous techniques, but you can familiarize them with a camera and teach them to point and shoot. Around the age of six, children can start to practice simple techniques such as composition and lighting.
Depending on the age of the child, there are different creative projects you can work on to encourage their interest in photography.
Younger children benefit from simple theme-based projects that can easily be made into fun albums:
- Colors—have them photograph objects of all the same color, holiday colors such as red for Valentine’s Day, or take a picture for each color in the rainbow
- ABCs—take a picture of something that starts with each letter of the alphabet
- Friends and family—take pictures of a particular friend or family member to create a special gift album
Older children can work on projects that will help develop their skills and understanding of different techniques:
- Skill building—teach new skills such as rule of thirds, leading lines, backlighting, low light and take pictures using these techniques
- Create a story—write a story and take pictures that complement the story
- Scavenger hunt—create a list of items and skills to be included in pictures
All children can benefit from learning basic skills when they get their first camera. The first thing you’ll want to teach them are the different parts of the camera. An age-appropriate camera will be simple and should only have a few parts to identify: power button, viewfinder, lens, flash, and shutter. Older children can be taught how to load film into the camera.
The next skill to teach is how to hold a camera. Explain how to hold the camera with two hands, then bring the camera in close to the body and position it so the child can see the image through the viewfinder. It may be helpful to have them sit down or stand against a solid object like a wall or tree for extra stability. For older children, you can teach them a pro tip on breathing—before you take a shot, take a gentle but deep breath, hold it, snap a picture, and exhale.
Once they understand how to hold a camera, the next skill to teach is how to find a point of interest. One expense of film photography is, of course, the film, so it’s a good idea to make sure the child understands how to identify points of interest instead of blindly taking pictures of everything in sight. The best way to teach this is to have a child think about the story the picture will tell. If there is no story, then move on to finding a more interesting subject to shoot.
After the child has mastered holding a camera and finding a point of interest, encourage experimentation. Younger children can experiment with indoor versus outdoor photography, and should shoot a variety of subjects. Older children can play with different lighting, changing angles, and different settings.
When choosing a kid-friendly camera, you will want to look for something that is inexpensive and easy to use. Fujifilm makes an excellent starter camera, the Instax Hello Kitty Instant Film Camera. This camera is shaped like Hello Kitty and comes with a carrying strap, stickers and film for 10 pictures. Features of the Instax Hello Kitty Instant Film Camera include:
- Film—Fujifilm Instant Color Film Instax Mini, 86mm x 54mm
- Picture size—62mm x 46mm
- Lens—Move in/out type lens, 2 components, 2 elements, f=60mm, F=12.7
- Viewfinder—real image finder, 0.37x, with target spot
- Focus—0.6m – ∞
- Shutter speed—1/60 sec
- Exposure control—Manual switching system (LED indicator in exposure meter)
- Film feed—automatic
- Flash—Constant firing flash (automatic light adjustment), recycle time: 0.2 sec. to 6 sec. (when using new batteries), effective flash range: 0.6m – 2.7 m
- Power supply—Two LR6/AA-size 1.5V alkaline batteries, duration capacity: 10 film packs (based on our Fujifilm company research)
- Dimensions and weight—169mm x 145mm x 69mm/395g (without batteries, strap, close-up lens and film pack)
- Exposure counter—number of unexposed films
This camera is easy to use. Simply press the button beside the lens to power it on. Turn the dial to the lit position for the best lighting. Identify the subject through the viewfinder, and shoot. The picture will be ejected automatically after shooting. There is even a built-in mirror for the perfect self-portrait.
Older children will enjoy experimenting with the high-key mode and the close-up lens. A high-key mode is available as a setting on the brightness dial and allows for pictures with a softer impression. The close-up lens can be attached for shots up to 35cm from the subject. This lens is helpful for shooting flowers, small articles, or any object where you want to create an enlarged image of the subject.
If you want something without the cartoon character, Fujifilm has an entire line of Instax Mini Instant Film cameras that offer different features. Another option to explore is the Polaroid Snap, which is a combination of digital camera and instant film camera.
When deciding between the Fujifilm instant film camera and the Polaroid, there are a few things to consider. The Instax cameras are a great option if you want a low-cost camera for an occasional use. However, the Snap is a more expensive camera up front because it has a digital feature, but the cost of prints is lower, which may be a better option for heavy use. The best bet for a first camera for a youngster is the Instax Hello Kitty, which has been specifically designed for children and is extremely easy to use.