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Why I Love Teaching Kids Photography

Student Photography by Derrick Story.

I have two boys of my own, and we share a lot of common interests. But photography isn’t one of them. So a couple years ago I started tutoring junior high and high school kids in the basics of image making. And my only regret is that I didn’t start doing this earlier.

There are a lot of misperceptions about today’s youth. But the fact of the matter is, just like any other generation, there are a variety of paths that lead to adulthood, and not all of them line up with our own experiences. But there’s a common language that I can share with my students, and that’s the passion for taking pictures.

We work with DSLRs for our lessons. I recommend that each student have one all-purpose zoom, a 50mm prime lens, polarizer, tripod, and flash. With these tools, we study portraiture, product shots, action, landscape, twilight, and travel photography.

Each 2-hour lesson is accompanied by a homework assignment. So at the start of the next lesson, we review their work, streamed to an HDTV from their laptops via Apple TV. Since all of my students use Macs, we focus on Photos for OS X and editing extensions for our post production.

They handle this workflow smoothly. But the part that’s really impressive is the quality of the imagery. Kids can be fearless when encouraged to do so. And approaching photography with an open, inquisitive mind can lead to fantastic images. And that’s exactly what I see on the screen every week.

Our goals aren’t so much how to become a professional photographer. What we discuss is how to develop these skills, then use them to complement their other passions. Imagine your biology teacher in high school being a skilled photographer too. That class is going to be fun. Same goes for real estate agent, marketing professional, and many other career paths.

We live in a visual society. And teaching our kids how to communicate with these tools provides them with skills that complement their other studies – not to mention that we’re planting the seeds for a hobby that they can enjoy the span of their lives.

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And that’s why I love teaching kids photography. Yes, I want them to succeed in their chosen profession. But just as important, I want them to have an interesting, creative life outside of work.

When I look at the images produced by a 12-year-old, I feel like I have a glimpse into their future. And to be honest with you, I’m thrilled by what I see.

Want to get involved teaching kids photography, but not sure where to start? Take a look at Photo Adventures for Kids by Anne-Laure Jacquart. After reading her guide, I think you’ll be even more excited about the possibilities.

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