Teaching Your Kids Photography on an RV Trip
Valuable Skills and a Lifetime of Memories
Photography and travel go hand in hand. Capturing images that will be fondly framed and hung in the house or just uploaded to a computer where they can be looked at whenever you want to do some reminiscing, they never go out of style. Plus, it’s the perfect way to remember all of the bits of your trip, both small and large, and they make perfect souvenirs.
Usually, it’s the parents who capture the trip with their cameras, but there’s no better time to teach your kids photography than on an RV road trip. Not only does it come with a variety of life skills, but it’s also a great hobby that can keep your kids busy and active on a vacation. Plus, it lets them unleash their creative sides.
Here are a few tips and tricks to teach your kids photography while you’re on your next RV trip.
Tips for Teaching Kids Photography
There are plenty of good ways to teach kids how to take pictures, and some include just handing off a camera and letting them go willy-nilly. While that creative and wild side will net plenty of shots, part of teaching the art of photography is learning the core skills associated with it. Here are some ideas.
Start with an Affordable Digital Camera
While many of us just use our (increasingly improving) cell phone cameras to take pictures, a good digital camera can teach kids more about photography than a phone’s camera can. With a real lens, zoom feature, and auto-focus, you can start teaching the fundamentals. Even though film cameras are becoming more difficult to find, a digital camera wins anyway because your kids can see instant gratification, and you can use it as an opportunity to help them get better.
This is also a great way to teach them grip and camera care. Even though it’s not a special camera, they don’t have to know that. Show them how to properly hold it, make sure they don’t bump it or let it swing from their wrists, and how to point it to take a shot.
Set Up Photography Scavenger Hunts
Need to make a pit stop for gas or just want to visit a small roadside attraction? Give the kids a list of interesting, esoteric things, and send them off to take pictures. You don’t even have to reward the “winner.” Instead, you can spend time with them by just looking through all of their pictures, and talking about the stop.
Teach Photography Etiquette
With the camera comes responsibility. There are a few basic rules that are nice to follow when taking pictures, especially when you’re visiting spots where you may have other tourists or visitors. Teach the kids basic photography etiquette. For example:
- Don’t block someone else’s photograph. Be aware of your surroundings, even when you’re looking through a viewfinder.
- If you’re at a historical landmark or any other place with a long line of people waiting to take pictures, teach them to wait patiently for their turn.
- Don’t photo bomb other families’ pictures.
- If you’re in a dark place like inside a room at a zoo, don’t use the flash. (In fact, teach them the differences you find in pictures when using a flash versus not using one.)
- Get permission from anyone they’re trying to make the subject of a photograph.
These small lessons can be considered generally polite even when the kids aren’t taking pictures, too.
Learn and Understand Lighting
More than just taking the pictures themselves, teach the kids about the importance of lighting in photography. For example, instead of backlighting, teach them to find an angle where their subject is being lit from the front because backlighting causes the subject to be dim. Some cameras may even have settings to help adjust lighting—though none will be as good as teaching the kids how to just use natural light.
Let Them Photograph Things That Interest Them
Even though you’re at Mount Rushmore, the faces on the mountainside might not be what interests your kids most. Maybe it’s a specific flag they’ve never seen before or the grain on the walkway leading up to it. Or maybe it’s the mountains surrounding Mount Rushmore.
The point is, let your kids photograph the things that interest them. You can use the big landmarks for major teaching moments like framing and the rule of thirds, but don’t limit what they can take pictures of. This is where a love of photography is built.
Focus & Hold Still
Patience is a major part of photography. While kids can be antsy and may have difficulty sitting still, taking pictures is a great way to teach them to focus. And in more ways than one. They have to get their subject in the viewfinder, then hold still in order to press the shutter. Otherwise, you end up with a series of blurry photos.
Discuss Their Pictures
Part of learning a skill is improving, and the only way to improve is to have a critical discussion of your work. Of course, this isn’t a time to tear down your kid’s photography (and fragile ego) by telling them how bad they are at taking pictures.
Instead, you can apply basic photography rules to their work and see if they apply. Did they use the rule of thirds? How’s the lighting? These are teaching moments.
While criticism is important, it’s also a good opportunity to dig deeper into their creative side. Instead of asking why they were taking a picture of a brick instead of Mount Rushmore, ask what they saw in that particular brick, and what about it drew their eye.
What better way to get your kids interested in all of the things they’re seeing on a trip—and get their attention away from a phone, video game, or laptop—that by encouraging them to take pictures of it? Not only do you get kids who are more engaged in your vacation, but you also have someone else to document it so you can relax a little more.