I started teaching Intro to Digital Photography to 8-11 year old kids this spring. I wondered if I could teach them full manual settings like I do with my adult classes, or if it would go completely over their head. I had a class of 5 very creative girls, so I pushed them to think about their settings and what they could control. Like a lot of other Intro to Digital Photography courses, I started with basic composition, and went into some ambient lighting techniques, so I could teach shutter speed and aperture. Seeing their faces light up when they nailed our “jumping” shot exercises was priceless. They LOVED action shots, and they all got really into the directing aspect of photographing each other. By the end of the class they had explored portraits, landscapes, fast action, controlling depth of field, perspective, details, textures, and what makes a strong composition.
We had one exercise where they had to take three photos and create a short story around those three images. I wasn’t sure how they would respond to this, but some of their stories blew me away.
I planned a formal critique for the last day of class, but was also unsure of how this would go over. I explained that while it’s important to receive positive encouragement about the work you make, it is also important to receive constructive criticism to improve your work. The girls were so excited to see and hang their prints, I hoped it would go well. I shouldn’t have been surprised that the girls were nothing but respectful to one another, using encouraging words, and telling each other why one photo worked better than another. Everyone was smiling after the critique, and I was so proud of them.