Teacher Lee Briggs on technology in today's classroom. Brought to you by Weekly Reader.

Teaching kids how to use a camera is only a fraction of what it takes to bring photography into the classroom. On a recent trip to a conservatory, I witnessed a little girl taking pictures of animal pictures on display. Meanwhile, while she was desperately trying to capture someone else’s photo, the animal in question, a live, adorable little baby quail was less than three feet from her in full view. I have a theory that children these days don’t see cameras as a tool for art so much as a tool for capturing information or recording that a moment even happened. This leads to a lot more photos, but of very low quality.

Students can give each other feedback on their photos.

I used to take my students outside and let them photograph whatever, hoping that quantity would lead to quality. Anyone who knows anything about the YouTube generation knows that this is a bad idea. Generally the photos would be of the class clown doing something funny and a bunch of students standing around him in a circle attempting to capture it paparazzi-style. This led to me making “rules” that all photos need to follow.

  1. EYE LEVEL: look your subject in the eye.
  2. GOOD BACKGROUND: backgrounds must be simple and non-distracting. The most distracting thing you can have in a photograph is other people, especially other photographers.
  3. RULE OF THIRDS: never have your subject dead center- have them a little to the right or left, otherwise it ends up looking like an ID photo. The only exception is when you are taking a photo of an experiment (like the science fair)- then have it in the middle.
  4. BE A BOSS!: order people around, tell them where you want them in the picture, tell them to get into better light etc… the only exception is when you are taking pictures of things like bears.
  5. GET UP CLOSE: make sure your subject fills the picture, again unless it’s something like a bear or a skunk.

Any rules you like your kids to follow when using cameras?

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Comments on: "Digital Photography, Part 2: Taking a Good Photo" (2)

  1. Digital photography may be great because it doesn’t cost anything to take tons of pictures. But there’s really something to be said about having a limited number of exposures to work with. If they’re forced to economize and really consider how they’re going to chose each shot, how it will be framed and composed, maybe they’ll make better artistic choices. Has the typical kid today every even seen a roll of film? They might be shocked to learn that in the old days (don’t I sound old?!) shooting a hundred pictures would cost a lot of money to develop. If they think in those terms, that every shot is a precious commodity, they’ll make every frame count.

  2. Lee Briggs said:

    I actually have an old “brownie” that I use to show the kids how an old camera works. I agree with you, and think that the problem has only gotten worse as SD cards get bigger. when you have 8 Gigs of space on your camera what incentive do you have to even delete bad photos? sometimes I try to create a artificial form of economy by telling the kids they can only take 3 photos when I am teaching them how to take a picture.

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