You never know what will interest a kid. It could be Legos or Pokémon cards or video games or something you never even imagined. It seems like every year a child’s interests change drastically. And although you know it probably won’t last, it’s always heartening when your son or daughter sees something that you’re interested in and takes an equal, if passing, interest.
This was the case last night when my ten year old son saw me taking photographs in the back yard and asked if he could do it too. I could have just gone and gotten an old smart phone and told him to start with that. But he seemed genuinely interested in my DSLR with its buttons and switches and complicated mechanics.
So I handed it to him and draped the shoulder strap across his shoulders, knowing well that if he dropped the camera the strap would either just slide down his back or be so long on him that it hits the ground anyway.
I showed him how to support the lens from underneath, how to zoom and focus manually when he needs to and of course showed him where the shutter release button was.
He ended up being a natural and was taking pictures I wish I had taken. It wasn’t a case of the student beating the master. It was a case of me realizing that none of the photos I had ever taken were ever that special. Maybe to me but certainly not in the world of fine photographic art.
After only taking a few photos he remarked “wow, you can be really creative with this”. He was discovering, on his own, how you can blur subjects on purpose to create an interesting effect.
My son has a natural understanding of the need for good light and interesting subjects and backgrounds. It was dusk when he started taking pictures which can be a difficult time to learn photography. But he never let it get to him. When it got really dark we just bumped up the ISO really high and put it in shutter priority mode so he could take long exposures.
Will he continue with his interest in photography? I have no idea. It could last a week or a month or it could be over already. I have a bit of hope for it though. When he gets a creative interest he often sticks with it for a while. He’s been interested in making our family tree for the last three weeks and he still isn’t tired of researching it on Ancestry.com.
But maybe I shouldn’t be encouraging it. I might not ever get to use my camera again.