Thanks to smartphones and a crop of editing apps, children as young as four are taking pictures—with surprisingly professional results.
Need help taking a great selfie? Just ask your child. Thanks to smartphones and a crop of editing apps, children as young as 4 are taking pictures—with surprisingly professional results.
Photo-taking now is commonplace among youngsters once kept far from chemical-laden darkrooms and delicate equipment, says Michelle Dunn Marsh, executive director of Photographic Center Northwest, a Seattle-based photography nonprofit. “The tools of photography have become very simple and very good,” she says. “We’re not seeing a 5-year-old who is setting up a lighting environment.”
Erin Stewart, 41, lets her older daughter Natalie be the official photographer on family vacations and at parties. But results can vary. On a trip to Paris more than a year ago, Natalie photographed the carousel near the Eiffel Tower but skipped the landmark. And rather than capturing her younger brother blowing out his birthday candles, Natalie opted to photograph a nearby friend eating a snack. “What interests them is sometimes different,” says Ms. Stewart, a stay-at-home mother of three in Orinda, Calif. Natalie, now 10, uses apps to add a grained look to photos. She likes capturing images in black-and-white, which Ms. Stewart isn’t crazy about because it makes her daughter look older. Children as young as 10 can take a course on mobile photography and video for social media as part of a four-week or seven-week program at Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts in Wheatley Heights, N.Y. The course allows students to take photos using “what’s most familiar to them” and is now one of the most popular, says instructor Michael Barraco.
The class is great for youngerstudents,
because it doesn’t involve pricey equipment that’s often part of a more traditional photography course, Mr. Barraco says. Instead, participants use affordable smartphone-compatible macro and wide-angle lenses. They also figure out how to store and share images that they accumulate on their phones. “They take as many photographs as possible, but there’s not always a lot of thought of what’s going to become of those images,” he says. After completing the course at Usdan last year, Teryn Hickson, now 11, says she takes fewer selfies and more close-up shots of landscapes and family. This year, the fifth grader from Amityville, N.Y., says she has been the photographer at her brother’s college basketball games, often switching lenses to capture on-court shots. At school, friends turn to her for help recreating images she posts on her social media accounts, including pictures of loved ones who look as if they are flying, thanks to careful posing and some post-photography editing. But she’s reluctant to disclose all her tricks, especially her arsenal of editing apps: “Some of them I keep secret.”