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Teaching kids how to use an SLR – what age can you start?

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Teaching kids how to use an SLR – what age can you start?

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My twins have been asking me for months now if they can use “my camera.”  I got them each their own $100 Nikon Point and Shoots.  But now, they want to know more.

They are 6 1/2 (will be 7 in December), and I decided I can start working on the basics with them.

So here they are using my 40D (cringe).  I was super nervous and should have gone up and got my 20d – but anyway…  I started teaching them about focusing and putting the red dot on my eye.  They already know some about lighting from watching and listening to me.  But it is hard to put it all into practice.

This day, every photo was out of focus.  But we just went on a 3 day family trip. And I think they are starting to get it.  They took these of my husband and me.  Ignore that we are not nearly as cute a subject as they are… 

Not bad for their second shoot.  Next I need to work with them on how to get catchlights.  Might need to get them a step stool so they are more at our level…  But a good start – all before 7 years old.

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18 Comments

  1. Nina Million
    May 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm —

    Have you ever heard of http://ifyougiveakidacamera.blogspot.com/ Great site all about the jewels and fun of giving a kid the opportunity to use a camera, at least once a month! 🙂

  2. melissa schroeder
    September 5, 2008 at 1:24 am —

    My oldest son is 11…he has been shooting for about 3 years..is GREAT in photoshop and designs all of my slideshows for my clients. I think it is great to involve our children in our passion and is a great way to bond with them…thanks again Jodi for all you are teaching us in your blog!!

  3. September 4, 2008 at 4:12 pm —

    Hey ! Great blog ! What I love about kids is that they want to do what Mommy is doing . Its clear to see that Mom has a passion for what she does and that shines through to the children . Great job !
    I see MANY of us are begging for you to share your wisdom about catching catchlights !! Please !! Hope to see it on your very next blog !! Thanks 🙂

  4. September 4, 2008 at 4:12 pm —

    Hey ! Great blog ! What I love about kids is that they want to do what Mommy is doing . Its clear to see that Mom has a passion for what she does and that shines through to the children . Great job !
    I see MANY of us are begging for you to share your wisdom about catching catchlights !! Please !! Hope to see it on your very next blog !! Thanks 🙂

  5. September 3, 2008 at 8:20 pm —

    Great second shoot!

    Our kids are 20, 15, 12 and 8 – all four have their own cameras, scaled depending on their interest in photography. The 15 year old is the most “into” photography and is looking into upgrading to a 20d himself. Our 8 year old, Maggie, has a Kodak C613 which is a PERFECT digital camera for her. Has enough features to grow into but is small, light, portable, and much less expensive than my 1d2.

  6. September 2, 2008 at 6:33 pm —

    love the first pic–great PP!!!

  7. Jeri
    September 2, 2008 at 1:45 pm —

    I let my 9.5 year old son use my backup Rebel Xti with the kit lens and he has taken some really great shots. He did a research project on digital photography for school last year and used Bryan Petersen’s Understanding Exposure as one of his main resources. He understand the concepts of aperture, ISO and shutter speed as well as any adult! In fact, he will often ask me on as shoot, “Hey Mom, what’s your f-stop? Is it about 2.8 so you can throw the background out of focus?” Love it!

  8. September 2, 2008 at 12:34 pm —

    I’m of the mindset that teaching kids on the “real thing” is always a great way to teach them how to use something. My youngest loves taking pics as well and, as soon as I upgrade, I’d be happy to let him use my current camera.

    I’d like to echo the sentiment of others here and say that I, too would welcome a post on catchlights!! 🙂

  9. Stephanie
    September 1, 2008 at 11:32 pm —

    Hey, Jodi
    Great post! With you as a teacher your girls will pro’s in no time 🙂 I see that your husband has a Tulsa Drillers t-shirt on. It was just kinda neat to see. I live in Kansas and growing up I lived in Caney, Ks which is right on the border of Oklahoma. We use to go shopping in Tulsa all the time.

  10. September 1, 2008 at 5:03 pm —

    Wow jodi. Really put the spanner in the works for me now as I have a nikon d200 and have been contemplating this for some time with my 6 and half year old daughter.

    Alot of trust.. as camera’s here in Australia are twice the price then what they are in North america.

    I think I will be letting her have a go with my other dslr.. Its also the changing of the lenses that kinda freaks me out… lol

    Also.. wondering if you have any recommendations for lenses?

    Thanks jodi.. the girls have done a wonderful job.. you should be very proud!

  11. September 1, 2008 at 1:28 pm —

    oh, Jodi….the girls did great!! However, you’re still looking a little nervous about them holding your camera!! lol!! start them young. my xt is starting to go south, so my 4 year old will be inheriting that. She loves it….!! (um, potential second shooter for my kids portrait settings???)

    -denise:)

  12. September 1, 2008 at 12:01 pm —

    So great that they have an interest and you are patient enough to teach them! I think that is awesome.
    would also love a post on catching catchlights.

  13. September 1, 2008 at 11:40 am —

    I came to my reader to search for kids photography websites and found this post; I was hoping you’d have a list of good sites out there meant just for teaching kids (of all ages) about photography.

    My own kids aren’t that interested in taking pictures… yet. My two oldest have kiddie digital P&S’s, but don’t really use them. I believe it’s ‘cuz they’re just not nearly as fun and “instant” as ours with the live view screens. 😀

  14. August 31, 2008 at 9:50 pm —

    this is wonderful! i’m really hoping that i can share my love of photography with my daughter. she’s almost 3 and i can’t wait until i can give her my current camera and i can have the excuse to upgrade!! 🙂

  15. Pam Breese
    August 31, 2008 at 7:21 pm —

    My Niece has been shooting pictures with my DSLR (prosumer level) since she was 5, whenever she visits. I trust her to take a picture of me over many of my friends since she knows the basic fucntions! She is now 7 and I bought her a point and shoot but the “point and wait” part is hard for her to get used to!

  16. August 31, 2008 at 6:52 pm —

    Agreed! A post about how to reliably get catchlights and how to properly light the face and eyes would be a wonderful wonderful post! 😀

  17. August 31, 2008 at 6:28 pm —

    My now almost 8 year old got ahold of my 10D a few times when he was a TODDLER and surprisingly, not only did he take semi-ok pictures, he didn’t hurt it… I’ve actually thought about getting him a DSLR (I’m thinking a nikon D50) to use supervised 🙂

  18. Lori M.
    August 31, 2008 at 5:39 pm —

    How neat!! My 3 year old got a Fisher Price Kid Tough Digital Camera for Christmas and she loves taking pictures!! I guess it’s never too young to start! 🙂

    P.S. I’m sure we would all LOVE to see a post on how you get catchlights!! That can always be a challenge. Please share with all of us! Love your blog and your actions!!!

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Teaching kids how to use an SLR – what age can you start?