Next time you go to a museum, the beach, the circus—anyplace “special”—bring a camera for your child. Let her take pictures of whatever she finds interesting (within reason). Try not to tell her what pictures to take. Let her make her own decisions. If she knows how to push the button to snap the photo, there’s nothing more to say. Giving your child complete independence will increase her determination to use the camera with purpose. This will make reviewing the pictures that much more meaningful.
Later, when you review the photos, allow your child to tell you about the pictures. She probably won’t want to discuss every single photo, but she’ll have some favorites. Ask her why she chose certain pictures for favorites and not others. Now is also a good time for your child to tell you why she doesn’t like some pictures. If they are too blurry or too dark, for example, discuss some techniques to take better photos. Your child will not pick up on these techniques immediately. But through trial and error (rather than a volley of reminders) the quality will improve.
A great way to follow up the review process is to go on a practice shoot. It doesn’t have to be right after, but make a date and stick to it (or put it on your schedule). This can be a turning point. How? –Because in the beginning, you went somewhere and brought the camera along. Now, the camera is the activity—you’re going on a photo shoot. What’s so great about that? Well, for starters, it’s a new activity. Secondly, your child is motivated, and kids learn best when they’re motivated. Lastly, the activity builds your child’s confidence in her own ability to make creative decisions.
Keep in mind–a wonderful way to show enthusiasm for your child’s use of the camera is to frame a favorite photo or two. It doesn’t have to be over the top. Anyplace that has a one hour photo can make a 5″ x 7″ reproduction, or there’s usually a do it yourself station you can use. The same store should also carry frames, which are pretty inexpensive. The point is you’re showing that you value your child’s creativity. And besides, it’s fun to hear your child tell the story when someone asks—who took this photo?