As a photography teacher, I reckon there are huge benefits to teaching kids to take photographs properly. Photography is so integral to kids lives that learning how to do it has almost become a bit of a life skill.
Rewind to the 80s (yes, I'm that old), and I remember a roll of 36 film in my camera being a real privilege. There were 36 (and only 36) possibilities to create great pictures and memories... And if you accidentally hit the button on a dud shot - tough luck! It was, I guess, a bit more stressful than today, but there was something lovely about getting the photos back from the chemist... That first look at what you'd taken was quite exciting.
Photography nowadays is immediate and widely available. Imagery is a HUGE part of our children's lives. I would hazard a guess that most kids over 10 have access to a camera daily. Kids have phones, and phones have cameras, so kids take photos... And LOTS of them. We even have social media platforms dedicated to taking and sharing photographs - Snapchat, Instagram etc.
I will happily complain about the downsides of children having phones - the social implications, the constantly being 'on', the screen addiction. But what phones have done is ignite children's interest in taking photographs. Now, taking and sharing images is far far more accessible than it was even ten years ago.
Here are a few of the main reasons I think both kids and teenagers, benefit from photography courses.
As kids create images that they're proud of, their confidence is boosted. They enjoy the process of creating a photograph and get a real sense of achievement when they create something fantastic. In turn, they are usually happier to share their work, which boosts confidence from friends and family who love what they've created.
In my experience, kids who know how to take a great shot are WAY more likely to want to be IN the picture. They understand the benefits of a photograph and enjoy being part of the process. Attending a junior photography course can give them the confidence to be in front of the camera themselves - great for the photo-shy!
Creativity, the ability to use imagination to create something, is as essential to life as when man invented the wheel. Creativity gives us the spark to try new ideas, think outside the box, and find new ways to solve life's problems.
Children nowadays are going to need all the creativity they can get. Society has so many big problems that need solving (global warming, the plastic crisis, overcrowding, diseases, pandemics!). Mathematicians, politicians and scientists need to be creative thinkers just as much as painters and performers. So creativity is that one universally important skill that helps all humans to make change and live happy and fulfilled lives.
Learning photography helps to stretch that creativity. It encourages kids to think of new ideas and new perspectives to create beautiful images.
When you take a photograph, you are literally framing the world as you see it. No two photographers will photograph the same subject in the same way. So photography is a form of self-expression, just as much as other art forms.
Learning to photograph gives kids and teens a to communicate thoughts, feelings and ideas. Photography is an extension of how we communicate.
I love this quote from Kathy Ryan, Director of Photography at the New York Times Magazine.
"[Photographers] are the ones who sort all the chaos of the world into images that bring clarity to the free-for-all of life. They are the witnesses and artists who can distil the mayhem and beauty that surrounds us. They call our attention to the things we miss in our everyday lives, and they call our attention to events and people at a great distance from our own patch of the universe. When they direct our eyes and hearts with precision and honesty, we know what we know differently and better. Photographers teach us to look again, look harder. Look through their eyes."https://time.com/4839246/photographers-passion/
Photography encourages us to be in the moment. When photographing a person, for example, all of my attention is on how best to represent that person - who they are, how they stand, how they are lit. My focus is on them, not on anything else. Similarly, if I'm photographing a landscape or a flower.
Even now, I'll use photography as a relaxation tool. I take my camera out and try to capture creative and exciting images of a scene. Focusing on creating beautiful photos helps to put aside the chatter in my head and really be 'in the moment' - exactly like the practice of mindfulness.
If you would like your child to experience the benefits of photography first hand, check out my online photography course for teenagers and kids. The course runs over three weeks, with three evening sessions and plenty of homework in between. Any camera is fine - either phone camera, SLR or 'point and shoot' camera. The course takes children and teens through everything they need to know to start taking great photographs, and they really do! Check out the examples of my student's work below!