08 April 2009

Kids and cameras

When The Bookworm was six (almost seven) we got her a cheap digital camera and memory card for Christmas. This was in preparation for our last overseas trip - thinking that it would be nice for her to be involved in recording what she saw, from her perspective.

On our return from the trip, as I was sorting through the photos, it turns out that she'd taken about 900 photos in all - in just three weeks. We were amazed! Now, she's no brilliant photographer, and she definitely improved as the holiday progressed, but from time to time she took some amazing photographs. 

What also impressed us were the subjects of some of her pictures. She frequently took photos of things that we adults would never have thought of taking - goldfish in the ponds at the Real Alcazar, the tile patterns on the Alhambra walls, the chandeliers at Versailles - and it really demonstrated the point of view of children. They have not been taught "how to see" or "what to see" or "what to photograph". So they just take photos of things that are of interest to them. Sure, the composition isn't always fabulous, but sometimes the photos are really striking anyway.

She took a photo - accidentally, I think - of the white gravel approaches to the gates at Versailles. The top 10% of the photo is the Chateau and approaching tourists crammed in at an odd angle, and the rest of the picture is the gravel. But it is an amazing picture to look at because the perspective makes it look as if the Chateau is warped in shape.

She took a photo looking down from the Tower of Belem, Lisbon, at the pavement and people below. She set the angle diagonally across the picture and thereby created a very strong image using the white pavement edging as a dominant visual element. This photo is so good that it has been entered in the Photography competition at the upcoming Sydney Royal Easter Show. We're looking forward to seeing how she goes - even just being selected for exhibition would be great.

We wondered if she would be too young to manage looking after a camera - after all, kids don't always look after their belongings particularly vigilantly - but we thought it would be a good way to teach her to be responsible for something valuable (though not too valuable, in case she did lose or break it...). But we gave her lessons in how to hold it securely so you don't accidentally drop it, and showed her how to keep it stowed under her clothing when not using it to make it more inconspicuous. Naturally, we also showed her how to use the basic functions as well. 

And she succeeded admirably! Since coming home, she hasn't really used it - so I don't think she's yet hooked on photography (that's OK, she doesn't have to be) - but she does have the skills to use it confidently should she ever want to.

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