Photo time: a photography introduction for kids!

Written by Nikita Abreu

Apr 6, 2021

Hey curious kids! Are you interested in taking pictures? Do you know how a camera works? Supernova is here to show you the ins and outs of camera education in this introduction to photography for kids!

Did you know that the first photograph ever taken was in 1827? That’s 194 years ago! Instead of using film, photographers used a piece of metal or glass on which they painted a light sensitive chemical that reacts to light. The very first cameras were much less complicated than the ones we use now. They were just boxes with a very tiny hole on one side and a piece of film on the opposite side.

The first photo taken was by a man called Joseph Nicephore Niepce. It took eight hours to take the photo, while today it often takes less than a second to take a colour photo. Photography is an ever growing world of wonder, art and memories. It has become a very important part of our society in many ways and forms. I am here to help you understand the workings behind its mysteries.

Close both your eyes. Now open one of them for just a second and close it again. Try drawing a picture of what you saw. You just imitated a camera, sort of. Let’s dive into the world of capturing images to create ‘Kodak Moments’ in this photography introduction, kids!

Image of a camera on grass in front of a mountain.

An introduction on photography: how to use a camera

Components

OK kids, lets start your introduction to photography. There are two parts of a camera: the lens and the body. The body is the part with all the knobs and dials and where the digital sensor or film is located. Most cameras have the lens built into the body of the camera (point and shoot cameras), but more professional cameras have lenses that can be removed and interchanged (single lens reflex or SLR cameras) . A very common saying in photography is: “A camera is only as good as its lens”. So no matter how good your camera is, if you have a low quality lens, your pictures will be low quality as well.

Did you know the first cameras did not have lenses? They were only boxes with a small hole in one side and a piece of film on the opposing side. So simple! A lens makes a camera much more versatile though, and the quality of the image a whole lot better. Today, you get a wide variety of lenses. Some lenses are specifically made to take photos of small things really close up, like a magnifying glass. Other lenses can zoom very far and others can take a single picture of a very wide area from close by.

The lens catches light that reflects off everything that’s inside the frame of the picture and focuses it onto the sensor. The sensor is what digital cameras use instead of film. The sensor remembers the image it saw through the lens and saves it on the memory card. In this scenario, you can imagine that the lens is your eye and the sensor is your brain.

Black and white image of camera parts.

Shutter

The shutter makes that little ‘click’ noise when you press the button to take a picture. This controls how long light is shone onto the chip, which will affect how clearly you see the object you are taking a picture of. For example, you want to take a picture of a car that drives past your house. If you leave the shutter open for longer, the car will just look like a colourful streak on the canvas that is your neighbourhood. If you allow the shutter to open and close really quickly, you will see the car crystal clear, as if it was standing still. Now you can see that things that don’t move at all will not have a streaky effect. Playing around with the shutter speed will help you to add cool effects to your photo!

Aperture

Try this! Stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself close up, about a hands length from the mirror. Now get someone to switch off the light while you are looking at yourself. After ten seconds, have them switch on the light again. You will see how quickly your pupils shrink as your eyes adjust to the light. This allows your eyes to take in just enough light for you to see properly. Aperture works this way for a camera as well: opening the aperture too widely will over expose your photo, causing it to come out too bright. Opening it too small will under expose your photo, causing it to come out too dark. The shutter and aperture work together. You need to play with the balance between them to get the right look for your photo. Tricky stuff!

Digital vs Film photography

Did you know about digital and film photography? In this introduction to photography for kids, we are going to show you! Both film and digital photography need light to create photos. However, film photography needs a series of chemical reactions to expose, develop and print a photo. Digital photography uses a digital light sensor to register a picture and the photo is instantly visible

Black and white image of a large with a hand holding it up.

Kinds of photography

Photography is a very wide field and consists of a lot of specialised fields. You have wildlife photography, portrait photography, landscape photography, commercial photography, fashion photography, and a whole bunch more! The full-time professional photographers make a name for themselves in their fields of expertise and are known by that field. For example, you can be a wedding photographer, a fashion photographer, or whichever, depending on the type of photography you are the best known for. Let us explain more in this introduction to photography for kids!

The action shot

An action shot is a photo of movement, like taking a picture of your friend while they are running. To take an action shot there are a few basic rules to follow, the most important of which is ‘panning’. Panning is a technique in which you follow the person or object, that you want to take a picture of, while they are moving. For example, ask one of your friends to run past you. While he or she is running, look through the camera and always keep him or her in the picture. That is panning. While your friend is running and you are following him or her through the camera, you can take a few pictures, but don’t stop panning when you take a picture. Always keep the camera moving to follow your friend.

Your shutter speed is much more important in action shots than your aperture. A slow shutter speed will give a streaky effect that will give the picture the feeling of motion. This will also mean that your panning has to be very good. A quick shutter speed will freeze the movement and will give an almost suspended feeling to the picture.

Image of a man on a scooter riding down a road while the background is blurred.

KIDS HOW TO: Take a good photo

Usually a good photo is one you just feel happy about when you take it, even if it’s hard to explain why. However, there are a whole bunch of guidelines to take a technically correct photo.

What to do:

It’s about composition, such as where your picture ends, the border begins and where in the picture the objects are located. It is very important that the most important thing in your photo attracts the most attention. You can do this by making sure it is in focus or that it stands out from the background. For example, taking a photo of a yellow house on a green field.

Try not to make your photo too complicated, the less things in the picture, the easier it is to look at. For example, looking at a lighthouse on the horizon is much easier than looking at a bunch of tangled up, different-coloured wires.

Look at your colours. Certain types of colours just don’t match – colours such as yellow and brown, yuck! Some colours work excellently together. Colours such as blue and yellow, green and magenta (a purple-pinkish colour), and red and cyan (an almost baby blue colour)work well together.

There are a lot more specific guidelines, but the most important ones are your composition, colour and focus. With these three guidelines your photography will improve.

Every person has their own unique style of photography just like everybody has their own personalities. Your photography is a direct representation of who you are and how you perceive the world around you. When you take a photo you should always add your soul and your feelings to it. No matter what others say about your photos, what you think of them is what really counts.

So go out there and put all the effort you can into expressing what you feel in a photo. Remember, the only way to become a really good photographer is to practice!

Always remember to give yourself enough light!

Read more amazing Supernova blog posts here!

Image of a camera on a wooden desk.
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