I love doing activities with my kids that teach them elements of photography. I frequently bring them on set to my photo shoots, which exposes them to the professional side of photography. And at home, there are so many fun, easy activities we do that teach them about the science of light, and inspire them about the adventure and creativity of photography. Here are my three favorites:
#1. Taping Light
This is my go-to rainy day activity. I find a light pattern coming in from our windows, and use painter's tape to trace the lines. I show my kids that the light fits the tape pattern at the moment, but as the day goes on, the sun will move and will cause the light pattern to move outside of the taped lines. I keep the tape on overnight, and bring them back at the same time the next day to show that the sun has moved back to the same position and again fills the painter's tape. In addition to teaching about the science of light, my kids have a blast jumping in the blocks, and turning it into hop scotch!
You can use this same idea with any light or shadow patterns. You could try using painter's tape to trace your child's shadow, dappled sunlight coming in through the trees, the shadow of a stuffed animal, and any other patterns you find around the house.
#2. Alphabet Adventure
This one takes a little more planning, but is so worth it in the end -- when I find ourselves on a day with no school or activities planned, I print out an "Alphabet Adventure" scavenger hunt, grab my 70-200mm lens, and head downtown with the kids. My son absolutely adores our alphabet hunts, and I love that it shows him the adventurous side of being a photographer. Here's what we do:
- I print an 8.5 x 11 page with the Alphabet, tape it to a piece of cardboard, and pack a bag of stickers.
- We head somewhere fun -- ideally somewhere with a lot of signs, like a downtown area with a variety of shops and restaurants.
- I tell my son that if he finds every letter on the page, he gets a special surprise! (Side note: 3 year olds will be happy with almost anything labeled as a "surprise", so it doesn't need to be anything fancy)
- Every time my son spots a letter on a sign or store window, I give him a sticker on the corresponding letter on his board. While he's doing that, I use my zoom lens to take a photo of the letter.
- After he completes his board and gets his surprise, we go home, upload the photos, design a page like the one above, and print it out -- my son loves to see all the letters he found on his adventure!
#3. iPhone Shadows
This is the easiest activity of the three, and my kids love it every time. I close all the curtains and turn on the "flashlight" of my iPhone. I gather my son's favorite stuffed animals, and place the flashlight directly behind to create larger-than-life shadows of his favorite toys. Or, I place it behind him so he can use his body to create huge shadows of himself. He has quickly learned that the closer the light is to the toy, the larger the shadow, and loves to play with moving the light to see how it changes the shadow. You can use any flashlight or light source, but I find that the iPhone flashlight works great in a pinch.
I hope you have fun doing these activities at home, and that they help inspire the next generation of photographers! Please subscribe to my newsletter below, or find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date with news, behind-the-scenes photos, and blog posts.