If the saying ‘You’re never too old to learn something new‘ is true, then youth should loan itself to learning just as well. That being said, is five years of age too young to learn photography? Perhaps it might’ve been ten years ago when mobile phones hadn’t reached their zenith of ubiquity as seen in 2014.
Smart phone photography has contributed to making photography accessible to all, including children five years of age through eleven. Seeing youngsters snapping away with Iphones at whatever compels them is a common occurrence. With that in mind, I was thrilled with the opportunity to instruct five photo learning activities during Manitoga Summer Design Camp’s ‘Every Picture Tells A Story,’ at Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center in Garrison, New York.
The camper’s ages ranged from 5 to 11. Several of the oldest campers were quite adept with point and shoot style cameras. Smart phones with cameras were just as popular. The control dials and settings quickly become a natural for kids once they get past their initial timidness with the either camera or device. Curiosity beats hesitation every time.
Instruction is important because without it, youngsters will invariably and randomly photograph everything in sight. Although there aren’t film costs associated with digital devices, shooting without a ‘game plan’ doesn’t accomplish learning anything. The lesson plan consisted of three ideas:
- The rule of thirds
- Horizontal vs. vertical orientation
- How close can you get
From these three ideas other lessons emerged as each group walked the trails and set out to see the environment through the camera lens. Having supplies such as extra batteries and film cards was one such take – away lesson. Another lesson learned was to be aware of the idea of ‘place.’ It’s easy to forget safety when concentrating on the activity – even adults have been known to lose themselves in the moment of capturing a photo and forgetting there might not be enough room behind their feet, and quite accidentally fall down.
Building on the idea of place, I suggested photographing each other, and many did. It wasn’t portraiture, but several images hint at a document style of photography, (with a few photo bombs thrown in). I don’t discount the serendipitous picture because some of the best images are made that way. Seen below are selected images from five groups. All the campers had a good grasp of the concepts introduced. As they venture forward with better cameras, I suspect visual language will grow along with them.