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Say Cheese!

Say Cheese!

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Updated on Dec 13, 2012

Calling all shutterbugs! Chances are, you’ve been snapping photos of your little one since day one. If you’re ready to turn the tables, it’s easier than ever to get started.

Before you hand over that pricey new camera, you’ll want to show your child how to handle an expensive and delicate piece of equipment. Keep the strap around your neck or your wrist, handle it gently, and use two hands when possible. Show your child that you have faith in her ability to respect the equipment, and never let her handle something so expensive that you’ll be nervous the whole time – that won’t be fun for anybody.

Fisher Price now sells a simple, durable “Kid Tough” digital camera for preschoolers for $70. Young kids will enjoy the immediate gratification of seeing their work online, and you don’t have to pay to print photos of your ankles and the back of someone’s head. On the other hand, the quality of these pictures can leave much to be desired-- should your child happen to shoot a masterpiece worth keeping. That's why many parents start with inexpensive, strictly point and shoot, disposable cameras from the drugstore. Still not good enough for your budding Annie Leibovitz? If your child is old enough, try beginning with an outgrown adult camera. Introduce basic skills first: finding the on/off button, removing the lens cap, using the flash and the viewfinder.

Most kids lack the desire to immortalize every family function on paper, so you’ll have to be creative with practice sessions. How about a photo safari in your neighborhood? Grab your camera and go out to stalk whatever big game is most intriguing to your child: wildlife, construction vehicles, fire engines. When the photos are developed, you can make a keepsake album and talk about why each photo looks the way it does.

Visiting museums and galleries is the best way to study great photographs and learn the difference between Ansel Adams’ photos of Yosemite and Aunt Rachel’s photos of the family picnic. Don’t live near a photo gallery or museum? Grab a newspaper or browse the online collections at the Smithsonian Institution (http://photo2.si.edu/). Talk about angle, distance, focus and framing. What makes each photo special?

Have your child try taking ten pictures of one subject, each one at a different distance or from a different angle. Lie on the ground and shoot upwards; climb on a box and shoot down. Zoom in (if the camera offers the capability; disposables and kids’ cameras may not) and snap only parts of the subject. Use the flash; don’t. Then compare all the shots to see which came out best, and why.

Cheese!

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