Kids and Cameras

How old were you when you took your first picture? By yourself, I mean, not while an adult was looking purposefully over your shoulder. If you remember that moment then you know how exciting and meaningful it is for youngsters to begin taking pictures at an early age.

Everyone I know has outgrown at least one generation of digital camera, and many have passed them on to responsible kids who are having a blast. Specifications like resolution, zoom range and focusing speed don’t matter to children. They’re just thrilled to have a camera and to be able to make images. We can learn a lot from that.

Trusting a young person with a camera is an opportunity to teach and reinforce values as well as artistic expression. How old to start? That depends on the child, of course. The important thing—regardless of the child’s age—is to establish some rules. Here are rules that we observe at the Sienkiewicz house.

- No pictures from inside the car (except an occasional bridge, large mammal or boredom-induced self-portrait).

- Not too many pictures of just feet if they can be avoided.

- Turn the flash off when ambushing the dog.

- Be prepared to explain each image and why it was created. (We always gather around the PC to admire and discuss the images, usually the same day they were shot.)

- Especially when traveling, spend more time enjoying your surroundings, family and friends than you spend taking photographs.

- Try not to drop the camera and tell dad if you do.

- Don’t forget and leave the camera at Cracker Barrel ever again.

Needless to say, cameras that have small, removable parts (including batteries) that could present a choking hazard should not be given to kids, particularly kids who are younger than five years old.

Above photo of Maya Sienkiewicz using a Pentax Optio E70 was shot with a Pentax Optio P70.