For me, photography and parenting have a deep and intertwined relationship.
I use photography to document the activities we do as a family and to hold onto the moments that make up these fast moving years. I want to remember every single little trip to the park and every cute little baby toe. I use my camera to capture the memories that we may not always remember.
On the other hand, I use parenting to practice my favorite hobby (you guessed it- photography!). While I am busy spending time with my kids, I am also learning all about photography and my camera settings from the most fast moving (and sometimes uncooperative) subjects you could imagine.
First- it is best if you understand what the settings on your camera mean. Check out my free and user-friendly photography setting tutorials here.
Don’t be discouraged if your initial photos look as blurry, dark, and unpleasing. This is expected at first until your little ‘photography teachers” (aka your kids) start their lessons.
The only way to really learn how to use your camera is to get out and practice. These family activities can help you enjoy the intertwined relationship between photography and parenting. Let your children TEACH YOU photography with these fun activities. Make sure you print the checklist at the end too!
1. Learn Shutter Speed With These Activities
There is no better shutter speed tutorial than the one that your fast moving kids can give you. Whether you are are shootng in manual mode, shutter speed priority mode, or even auto-mode, these fun activities will make you a shutter speed pro.
To get you up to speed on shutter speed: shutter speed is the length of time that the camera’s shutter is open when taking a photograph. Think of the shutter as a blinking eye. In low light, the shutter would want to stay open longer to let it more light. When it is open longer, you will see movement in the picture in the form of a blur. In direct sun, it will be open for a short period of time so that it doesn’t let in too much light (the photo would look white). When it is only open for a small period of time, then the pictures is crisp and clear. Practice by photographing moving subjects!
Your goal: little to no movement blur in your photos
Shutter Speed Activity #1: Day at the Park
This “tutorial” should take place outdoors, preferably at a park. Have your tiny teachers (kids) go down slides, swing, and run around. Try to capture them doing these activities that require a lot of movement. Try to take a picture of them jumping off of a swing or mid-way down a slide.
Keep in mind: The more light, the faster the shutter speed = less blur!
Shutter Speed Activity #2: Photograph Seasonal Fun
Depending on the forecast, there are some great and easy, natural family activities you can do to practice your shutter speed. No excuses to skip this step- I have ideas for whatever mother nature chooses to throw at you! Let your kids dictate location of the lesson plan, but here are some ideas:
If it is hot outside, capture some shots of your kids running through sprinklers, jumping into pools, or throwing water balloons.
If it is raining out, throw some boots on your kids and let them jump in puddles of water or mud! If you really want to up-your-game, try capturing the water as they splash through puddles!
If it is snowing out, take some shots of the kids sledding or throwing snow balls.
If it is any other temperature, let them run around or jump in leaves. No doubt you will be able to get some exciting action shots!
Shutter Speed Activity #3: Sports Action Shots
If your child plays a sport, bring your camera to their event. You can practice action shots at any sporting event! There will be an abundance of fast moving kids at any sporting event. Try to snap the picture just as they are kicking the ball, swinging the bat, or running.
Don’t fret if they don’t play an organized sport. Try to get some shots of them playing in the backyard. My daughter is not a fan of organized sports, but she loves doing gymnastics.
Shutter Speed Activity #4: Blowing Glitter
Have your child hold a handful of glitter, snow, or sequence. At the count of three have them blow gently into their hands, and snap away. Your child will have a blast and you will have some awesome practice with shutter speed.
2. Learn Aperture With These Activities
Next up on the lesson plan is learning about aperture and depth of field – which plays a big role in the background blur. Having a good lens in your camera bag can also really help you with aperture. I highly recommend a 50 mm lens to any new photographer looking to up their photography game. I use my 50 mm lens for 99.5% of my pictures. It takes amazing shots in low light and allows for beautiful background blur. Also, these lenses are not too expensive, check out the reviews. Here are two great options!
To get you up to speed on aperture: aperture is the opening of a lens used to control the amount of light that is let in. Additionally, it controls the depth of field (or background blur). Think of the camera lens as a pupil. In low light, it opens wide to let in more light and ‘see’ better. In bright light, it constricts so that not too much light is let in. When it is ‘open’ to let in more light, you will have a blurrier background. Therefore, the background blur is easier to obtain in lower light settings.
Your goal: focus on something specific and create a blurry background effect
Aperture Activity #1: Hold an object at you
I found that kids have a lot of fun with this activity, and love to see the picture when you are done. Have your adorable ‘teacher’ hold something in front on them at arm’s length. It can be a flower, a favorite toy, or a memorable item (such as when my son earned a ‘game ball’ at his baseball game). Whether you are in manual mode, aperture priority mode, or auto-mode, try to focus on the object so that the rest becomes blurry.
While you and your child are having fun with this activity, you are actually learning about my favorite camera setting- aperture!
Aperture Activity #2: Toy Display
Use your cute, tiny “photography expert’s” favorite toys in your photos. Your child may not even know that you are photographing them, but you will have the opportunity to take fun pictures that both teach you about aperture and highlight your child’s favorite toys (great memories).
Set the toys either in front of or behind your child. Choose what you would like to focus on (the toy or your child), and start to experiment with background blur.
Aperture Activity #3: Portraits
Taking close up portraits of your child will help you to learn aperture while you are capturing the details and personality of your child. This ‘tutorial’ can take place anywhere. Get up close and personal with your tiny teacher and make sure you focus on their eyes.
Aperture Activity #4: Pictures in a dark room
Did you know when you lower your ‘f-stop’, more light is let into your camera and you can take great pictures in low light. You can start to get those indoor shots that previously were too dark!
Class is in Session
It is a little ironic that many people start off in photography to take pictures of their children, when children are actually the most difficult subjects to photograph! Once you learn how to photograph children, photographing anything else will be as easy as 1-2-3- snap!! No one ever learned photography in a day. You need to practice and enjoy it.
Now it is time to start your ‘tutorials’. Let your kids guide you through your photography journey, and have fun together while you are at it. So throw that old camera bag over your shoulder and bring your kids out to experience the world while you practice your new hobby!
Here is your activity checklist. When you have completed all 8 activities, I promise you will be a better photographer! And you will have fun in the meantime!
Have you done any activities with your children to practice photography? I’d love to hear more in the comments below!
If this made snapping more simple for you, share it!