Snap Happy Holidays

Jul 13, 2022

Kids taking photos

Kids see grown-ups taking photos and want to copy. We can help them with the dangers and delights of becoming a cyber-savvy photographer creating clever digital imagery - and turning some into artworks!

All round the world, kids are taking a break from formal education, whether normally at home or in  school. It might be hot summer holidays finding cool escapes near beaches, lakes and rivers in the northern hemisphere; or chilly, snowy days racing down ski slopes in the southern parts of the world; or somewhere in between. 

Photographs are a wonderful, fun way to record our experiences and capture what we see, to take with us and refer back to. I love photography and, as I get older and more forgetful(!), photos help me remember amazing places I’ve been to and fabulous fun I’ve had with family and friends. Photos can be artworks as well and a source of inspiration for drawings and paintings. There are many examples in Artventure where a ‘source image’ is used as part of the creative process. 

When I’ve observed kids taking photos on school excursions and camps, and during a fun family day out, I hope that they have been involved in discussions about cybersafety in relation to creating digital images. What modelling do kids see with grown-ups taking photographs and sharing them using social media? Holidays can be a great time to help our kids understand the dangers and the delights of creating digital imagery. There is an excellent government site to help children understand the concept of our digital footprint: eSafety.

A few things come to mind before pursuing this activity:

  1. What and why are kids photographing?
  2. Do permissions need to be sought first from any people in the shots?
  3. How will the photos be stored, used, shared?

Because there can be ‘dangers’ for children taking digital photos (most commonly on a phone), I believe digital images created by children are safest when produced under the guidance and supervision of a responsible adult. Parents know their children best and will have a better idea as to when they feel their kids are ready to take on this responsibility, keeping themselves safe. 

It's a bit like teaching our kids to cross the road. We do this together and practise enough so that gradually children can show us they are able to do it safely by themselves. The age of reason is supposedly about 7 or 8. This can be a bit of a guide as to when you might like to work through the concept of a digital footprint with your children.  

Having said that, the ‘delights’ in taking photos are well worth the effort. With the easy access children have to digital devices, teaching them how to take a ‘good’ photo can help them develop a creative and artistic approach to capturing what they can see.

Tips for kids, to help improve their photos:

  • Rule of Thirds
    • Try turning on the GRID (Camera - Settings)
    • See if there are 3 levels, layers or sections in the scene (eg beach, sea, sky)
    • Consider placing a focus, object or subject on one of the 4 cross points where the lines intersect (could be a person or animal with their head at that point)
  • Leading Lines
    • Look at a scene and see if there is something that makes a ‘line’ leading away into the distance (a road, river, steps, posts, fence)
  • Angle
    • Sometimes getting down to ground level can create a clever, special image (a miniature forest, a better view of a child playing)
    • Or get higher, above the scene
  • Light
    • Strong light creates shadows - can be avoided or used
    • Cloudy days mean less squinting but less vibrant colour
    • Into the light source can create clever silhouettes
  • Overall composition
    • Using the above suggestions and observing all that can be seen, it may be good to move slightly left or right to hide a rubbish bin or pole or sign… Would it be better to move in closer or further away or use the zoom facility?

Appreciating what we see around us, especially out in nature (friends are invariably the focus), rather than focusing on ourselves (selfies), can help improve our sense of well-being. Take time, slow down, help kids see the beauty in shapes, forms, colours, contrasts in their natural and built environment. Share your feelings about the beauty and diversity around you - smell and feel as well as see.

You could show your kids how to crop images to improve the composition and delete all those ones that are just not quite right. Then a way for them to share their photos might be through printing them, making a storybook about their trip, sharing with a private family group online. Chat about who might like the images and why - what’s appropriate? Why do they like them?

From photos to drawing and painting

Another option is to find a photo or part of a photo they like and use it as inspiration for further artworks. 

  • Maybe sketch the basic outline of friends sitting round a campfire toasting marshmallows but then draw in personalised details - aim for an artistic variation on the actual photo.
  • Try printing a simple, favourite photo. Draw a simple grid over it. Draw the same shaped grid but with larger squares, lightly with pencil, on a blank piece of art paper. Then copy the basic detail from each square of the original photo into your larger squares on art paper. This enlarged, drawn version can then be painted to hide the original grid lines. Again, not trying to replicate the real image but a creative interpretation.
  • If you’d like more of a challenge, the Art Eye Deer Library for teens in Artventure has many lessons that use a photo or source image to create your own artwork. 

More holiday artworks

Art ideas are a great way to keep kids engaged in creative activities. Using the lessons in Artventure can provide something different everyday, whether at home, on the road or at a holiday destination. There is a wide variety of creative drawing possibilities that could be used at this time. You might like to search for specific icons (like Uluru or the Statue of Liberty) to create your own representations, capturing memories with sketches, painting experiences and recording recollections. Or browse the extensive library of artwork ideas and make free choices!

Here are some suggestions from the Artventure library that are holiday-related drawing activities: caravan holiday, plane, winter, snowboarding, skiing, snowman, speedboat, sailing boat, outback sunset, summer, sandcastle, snorkeler, jetty, pelican, icecream… just for starters.

Over the years, we’ve written many blogs that offer suggestions for engaging our youngsters in creative endeavours not just in formal schooling but in fun holiday activities too. 

Previous BLOGS that may be useful to revisit

For those able to enjoy a break from school, stay safe and healthy. Hopefully these ideas can help you engage your young ones in arty activities, even developing some cyber-savvy photographers and clever creators of digital imagery.

Erica
Teacher and Artventure Blogger