Teaching Photography to Children

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Alleh Lindquist, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. Alleh Lindquist

    Alleh Lindquist TPF Noob!

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    Ok so I was recently asked if I would be interested in teaching a photography class for children sponsored by Wieden + Kennedy and before this starts being put into action and planned out I want to have a curriculum rough draft put together. I am going to guess the students will be between ages 11 and 16.

    The class will be all digital and I need to come up with where to start and finish and activities to engage the children along the way.

    Here is a basic rundown of what I came up with off the top of my head

    • Basic camera operation and a little about manual controls
    • Composition
    • Light and how it works
    • Portraits
    • Landscapes
    • Etc.

    I need ideas for other topics I should cover and what might be some good ways to approach these topics to make them fun and interesting to learn by children.

    I appreciate the help.
     
  2. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Project!

    Are there any photography competitions around?

    The local Boys & Girls club has a photography course and part of the course is that they have to create a photo for the Boys & Girls club photography contest. But those little bastards get MF film cameras and a huge darkroom to use.

    Uh...so what equipment do you get and how many kids will there be? That might make the biggest difference. If you get a Canon powershot and a flashlight for a studio setup, then you're going to have to tailor your class differently rather than if you would get 5 Nikon D40's and a crap load of old Vivitar 283's.
     
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree - you really need to know what kit, how many kids and the ages of them as well. A large group of 16 year olds will be very different to a large group of 11 year olds.
    Also how long is this class - is it a single lesson or an extended period - I am guessing that its a series of classes rather than just one event.
    I agree with starting with the basics - composition, basic operation, light control and manipulation etc... since they won't be so dependent upon what kit is available - they can be standard things. Beyond that its more tricky and I think you have to decide (and this will probably be based a lot round numbers of students you have) if your going to tailor your class to them or to you. If you have a smaller group you could break things down and deal with individual interests within the group - if its larger then try for a more broad approach - getting a little bit of everything in.

    As for a project (which is a good idea) I would try to have different options available - that way you cater for those that want to shoot different subjects and such. Maybe try to get them to put together a small presentation of a subject with photos.
     
  4. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

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    Kids of this age need the basics and keep it simple with no more than 10-15 mins of "lecture" at a time, before an interactive demonstration. Easily done these days with a digital camera, a computer and a projector.

    Topics:
    Manual and auto controls
    Getting the pictures off the camera and how to store them
    Perhaps, basic editing on the computer
    History of photography
    Discuss works of other photographers that show expamples of landscapes, portraits, etc.
    Basics of how a camera records the light (as you mentioned)
    Interactive experiments with the camera, using controls, showing limitations, fill flash, affects of light on a subject

    If you have the ability and knowlege to teach the differences in compositional style of some of the masters, this would be benefical. But, by no means should you be teaching them composition as these are children, in what I would guess an entry level class, not a graphic design or commercial photography class. "Teaching" them composition only propogates uncreative behavior and quells creativity, especially at those ages.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2008
  5. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    11 - 16 year olds get bored very quickly.
    Do a five minute discussion, getting the kids to air their views, then do a demo illustrating the discussion, then do something 'hands on'.
    You can introduce the children to the rudiments of composition by means of optical illusions and demonstrations of visual flaws - blind spot, colour blindness, et al.
    You can also use this as a way in to light and associated things.
    Demonstrating the Clerk Maxwell experiment on the mixing of coloured light is always fun.
    The ever popular pinhole camera. And you can start them off by demonstrating the camera obscura.
    Black a room out and then have a small circular aperture on one window. This will cast an image on to the opposite wall. Then tell your students that they are actually inside a camera...
    History of Photography only works if you keep it brief and use lots of slides.
    Get them in to the darkroom to process, too. But make sure you do health & safety with them and do a risk assessment first. Identify children with asthma and skin conditions like dermatitis.

    Make sure you start of with a scheme of work - how many lessons and what you want them to do in the course. Then do lesson plans.
    Keep with one topic per lesson. Don't be ambitious and try to fit in too much.
    Basic aims and objectives for each lesson.
    Break the lesson down into an intro, a group discussion, a demonstration/lecture, a second discussion, intro to the practical, the practical, tidying up and finish with a discussion and Q/A session to see what they have gotten out of it.
    This structure will vary depending on what you do with them but the basic lay-out works. Input, Q/A and demos should never go on for more than 5 mins.
    Get them working in groups to make a visual time-line for the History of Photography, say. Some group work is always good as are sessions where they do some research. If you keep things varied you can keep their interest longer.
    Have small groups of 3 or 4 and each group does a research and presentation on one area or use of Photography is another idea. It can be used to lead in to a practical lesson where they try their hand at one of the disciplines.
    The key to effective teaching is having structure to the lessons and keeping things moving. But more importantly, good planning and preparation by you.
     
  6. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Check on the photographic opportunities around the building that you are teaching in as in flowers, closeby playground or park, textures, shapes, patterns, macro possibilities etc., and in the winter snow and ice etc.

    I once taught a course in which I did a bit of formal teaching and then turned them loose in groups in the immediate area to shoot. I then went around making comments, asking questions or giving suggestions if they were having any difficulties. If not I would just watch a little and move on to the next group.

    By the end of the full 5 day per week, 6 week course, they were taking some great photos.

    skieur
     
  7. newPerspective

    newPerspective TPF Noob!

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    FOCUS and prefocusing. It may be a good idea to cover that in your class.
     

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