Photography Tips to Try With Your Child

My 12-year-old and I enjoyed learning new Photography Tips in our self-guided mini Summer Photo Challenge.

She was deeply intrigued in the beginning, which revolved around a lazy July morning. I suggested we each take some pictures–a Mother/Daughter Photo Challenge–using some interesting techniques. My young author listened eagerly, immediately seeing potential for improving her blog posts. (Yes, my 12-year-old has quite a following on her lifestyle blog about writing, creating, and growing up on 14 rural New England acres.)

She started roving the farm, snapping her shutter, and capturing some interesting images. Within a week, we had challenged each other to try out these 3 different techniques. But once we mastered those ideas, she moved on to other projects, and I decided to wait until she was interested in learning more. I waited. I reminded. I mentioned. I gave up, assuming at some point she’d let me know when she had a thirst for more new approaches to her photography.

Meanwhile, she and I were still capturing some neat shots, relying on our first lessons. I snapped this of our neighbors one evening:

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 10.13.35 PM

Using the rule of thirds, I made Captain Lucy the central focus. (Lucy is the furriest and cutest one on the boat, and of course that sweet pooch deserves to be the focal point.)

I was also lucky enough to be able to take advantage of a little bit of backlighting in the same shot. Lucy is subtly outlined in the warm light of the evening sun.

And the Young Blogger is a natural at filling the frame.

Photography Tips fill the frame

As it is so often with parenthood, after I planted the seeds and just waited, her interest took root on its own. Finally, a few weeks ago, she came back for more, and I was ready with a few new ideas. So here’s our second photo challenge:


Photography Tips to learn with your child

{{Leading Lines}}

We had never thought about leading lines, until we challenged each other to look for them (that’s pretty easy) and capture them (that’s the tricky part) in our shots whenever possible. The “lines” can be a wall with horizontal siding, stairs, or furniture (like a wooden bench, with slats). Place the subject on the far side of the seat, fences, and railings, or in such an angle that the “lines” are pointing to the focal point.

Leading Lines in photography

If you can place your subject so these “lines” are pointing to them, your viewer will be drawn into your photo, and your simple shot may become a show-stopping image. I was extra pleased when I reviewed this shot and realized even the diagonal line of nails in the deck railing pointed to my endearing feathered subject.

My daughter moved around the basket and piled and re-piled the apples to get everything exactly the way she wanted it before she was happy with one of her shots of the golden delicious apples our family picked at a local orchard last week.

Photography Tips leading lines

The lines of our porch bench are perfectly placed leading lines that draw the viewer’s eye toward the two piles of three (one in front of the basket and one inside the basket). I also like that the third bench line, to the right, is drawing you right to the most luscious apple of all, the one with the warm russet tint.

{{Negative Space}}

Negative space is, simply put, all the empty area in your photograph. You can use negative space to draw very dramatic attention to your subject. Here the negative space is our deck. My Young Blogger added an angle to her camera for even more drama with her beloved Minion Head flower pot. (Everyone should have one; with a full head of grass hair, it is most definitely worthy of drama.)

Minion flower pot

She also has some nice leading lines there. Negative space also combines nicely with the rule of thirds, like in my two examples below.

Absentmindedly, I was tossing in a load of laundry one morning (actually, I’m doing that MOST mornings) when I noticed a visitor on the glass. Between adding detergent and cleaning out the lint filter, I had a brief photo shoot with a Gray Tree Frog. Needless to say, he stuck around patiently.

Gray Tree Frog

My baby chicks on the other hand, didn’t stay anywhere for long, ever. So even though I prefer to not take pictures in direct sunlight (diffused natural lighting is always the best), I had to capture this shot of her first found delicacy where the chick happened to situate herself on her first free-ranging expedition. This also turned out to be a great experiment in layered focus (read on for more about that one).

Negative Space in photography

{{A Layered Focus}}

We both had fun experimenting with this one. We tried to have blurry foreground and background images with a striking focal point in crisp focus. We had to play around with our cameras, placing the focal point in our view finder on just the right spot and carefully scanning the full canvas of the picture to make sure there were some things, but not too many, in the foreground, to give the picture a very three-dimensional feel.

While I was diving into fruit salad and long conversations with cousins, my daughter widdled away some family-reunion moments behind her lens. This one is my favorites of her efforts:

Photography Tips a layered focus

One morning meandering around the homestead, I discovered a dragonfly drying its new wings, having just completed his final molt into adulthood. Not able to test fly his new appendages until they are completely dry, he gave me lots of time to run and grab my camera and experiment with a layered focus of him saying goodbye to his old self.

Photography Tips layering

{{A Slow Shutter Speed}}

We had the boat out later than usual recently, on the serene water as the sky turned deep blue and the sun rested her head below the far mountains. So we tried delayed exposure, intentionally moving the camera while the shutter was open.  We captured far away lights on the shore and other boats to create distorted images. She loved it, and we got a few neat shots.

Photography Tips delayed exposure

Photography Tips slow shutter

No matter what technique we try, I love seeing the world through a daughter’s lens. And I’m thankful for any excuse to slow down and notice a few details, in new ways, together. The frame-worthy photos are a bonus.

So we’re already working on our next mini photo challenge, which we’ll share in a few weeks. (And it includes the beautiful New England foliage!) If you and your child try some of the techniques highlighted in this post, please share your favorite results in the comments!

“Well done work has its own reward.” Proverbs 12:14





4 thoughts on “Photography Tips to Try With Your Child

    • Thank you! I love those two pictures as well, and I keep going back to her apple picture. Its clean colors and simple composition are so pleasing to me. You take beautiful shots on your blog as well, do you have any to share here that exemplify one of these techniques? The more examples, the better!


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