Encourage your Young Photographer without Breaking the Bank

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child taking a photo

Video Transcript

Ken: …team here on this Thursday morning. And you know, your little ones they love taking photos and you wanna support their hobby without spending a lot of money and burning a hole in your pocket. They’re not Gordon Parks for crying out loud. Julissa is standing by with Ryan Eldridge from “Nerds On Call” to find out how to do just that.

Julissa: Yes, so we know that you have those pictures right? We’ve been talking about it all morning, we’ve been asking you to share photos of these selfies. The very hilarious and out-of-focus selfies that our kids take. And I see that your kids do this too.

Ryan: This is Isabella. So Isabella is my six-year-old daughter and she is a camera freak. She loves to take pictures. I mean, she is connected to my Apple account and so every morning I open up my photos and I go, “Oh, my gosh.”

Julissa: You know what she was like…

Ryan: I have 1000 photos of her foot. It’s so wonderful.

Julissa: But they’re being creative and having fun. So we wanna help them, just without spending a whole lot of money.

Ryan: Exactly. So this is one of her selfies. She always looks like she’s surprised. Oh yes, and then she’ll do these little filters. And what she’ll do is she usually takes pictures of, like, her room, and she’ll take pictures of the kids, or of the…

Julissa: Cats.

Ryan: Cats and the dog. I mean, that’s kind of her go-to is the animals right? But kids they’re really kind of learning to express themselves through photography. And there’s a couple of different ways we can do that. One, most of us are gonna give them an old phone, or an old iPod, or something and let them take pictures. But there’s a kind of a drawback to this. One, it’s breakable, right? It also has limited storage. Getting the photos off there and printing, kind of a pain in the butt.

Julissa: It is kind of a pain.

Ryan: So this is okay for maybe, an older kid. But I probably wouldn’t recommend it for a younger one. What I so recommend is this really cool gadget here.

Julissa: Yeah, I love the color.

Ryan: This is from Fujifilm. This is about $126. It’s called the Fujifilm FinePix X120.

Julissa: A lot of letters and numbers, okay.

Ryan: Well, you got to put all those numbers in there. It’s a guy thing. I don’t know. Anyway, so this is really cool. This is waterproof, plus it’s sandproof. You can drop it from up to six feet and it won’t break. And it’s just awesome, it’s so much fun to play with.

It takes really good pictures. It’s a 16.5 megapixels. So you wanna have at least decent quality. It’s got some decent battery life. I suggest if you’re gonna get something like this for your kids, a starter camera, make sure you get them a couple of batteries because you don’t want them to run out of juice. And you also wanna get a couple of SD cards so they’ve got plenty of storage. The other nice thing about this camera is it will connect wirelessly to a printer, so they can print whatever they want. That’s kind of cool.

But ultimately, one of the biggest things of advice you wanna tell your young photographer is we always wanna kind of get in there and go, “Oh, honey you wanna hold it more steady or make sure you get the rule of thirds. Let’s talk about that for a little while.” Don’t do that. There was a study done where they gave two groups of kids digital cameras at a school. And one group of kids, just kind of unsupervised, could do whatever they want. The other group of kids just had an adult with them.

And the kids with the adult not telling them what to do were taking pictures of, like, playgrounds, and just really traditional stuff. But the kids that had no supervision at all were taking pictures of, like, potties, and cubbies, and real intimate spaces, things that they were just being a little more quirky, a little more creative. So as parents and adults, we wanna get in there, but really don’t. It kind of limits their creativity. So that’s that’s how I would suggest.

Julissa: Okay, fantastic.

Ryan: You can make photographers.

Julissa: Any apps that you can suggest that might help them or just forget about the apps?

Ryan: Well, Google Photos is awesome for storing. So, I mean, you can store almost unlimited stuff up there. Plus you can edit it and stuff. So if they’re a little older and they wanna play with filters and they wanna, you know, crop photos and things like that, they can’t go wrong there.

Julissa: Okay, fantastic. All right there you go. We’ve got all the information they just talked about on our website, gooddaysacramento com. Always so helpful. And maybe, you know, we won’t see the up-the-nose shots anymore.

Ryan: But it’s so cute.

Julissa: But it is so cute.

Ryan: It’s so cute.

Julissa: I love that. She does always look surprised.

Ryan: She takes videos too. Like, she’ll take a car trip with my wife and there’s just pictures of…

Julissa: The road.

Ryan: …the road for 45 minutes.

Julissa: I love it. So cute. So cute. All right, Ryan, always good to see you. Thanks so much. Back over to you.

Ken: Thank you so much. We appreciate that.

Photography is a wonderful hobby, and it needn’t be just for the adults! Our 6-year-old is obsessed with taking photos and videos. She’ll fill up the memory of every photo-capturing device in our home if we give her half a chance.

Child taking a photo

The challenge is that photography can be pretty expensive, especially if you go all out and buy a cutting-edge camera and accessories.

Fortunately, there are some great options which are perfect for giving your kids a taste for photography without breaking the bank.

Let’s take a look at some solid photography options for kids.  

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Option 1: Let your young photographer use an old smartphone or iPad

The cameras which come with smartphones and iPads these days are amazing. Even models a few years back sport impressive cameras which work well in low light, come with a flash and provide a range of artistic filtering options.

Kids taking a selfie

Instead of letting your old smartphones languish in the bottom of your utility drawer, why not set it up as a camera for the kids?

The cool thing about using an old device is that it may well cost you exactly nothing to get them started!

They also provide instant view-access to photos that are taken, which is a really useful way to get your kids experimenting with composition, framing and finding that perfect angle.

There is a downside though.

Typically those older devices might come with fairly limited memory, so you may find yourself either batch deleting pictures or regularly transferring them across to a hard drive.

It can also be somewhat convoluted to print photos from a phone.

Option 2: Get them a starter digital camera

Another option worth looking into is purchasing a starter digital camera.

Entry-level digital cameras are actually pretty amazing in terms of their feature set and lens quality. Take the Fujifilm FinePix XP120 as an example.

Fujifilm digital camera

This beautiful little camera sports a crazy 16.4-megapixel resolution, which is easy enough to allow perfect printing at large photo size. It also comes with a 5X optical zoom and is built to be durable enough to withstand a drop or two.

You might also want to take a look at Craigslist to see what second-hand options there are near you.

Whatever camera you’re considering, there are a few important things to consider.

Make sure it’s durable

Kids tend to give cameras a real beating. Anything sensitive or fragile isn’t likely to last too long under an enthusiastic rugrat photographer onslaught.

For maximum mileage, look for a model that is waterproof, drop proof and dust and sand proof.

Make sure it takes decent photos

I mean, that’s the whole point, right? Nothing is more discouraging than a camera which just takes shoddy and poor quality photos (I’m looking at you, Vtech!)

Your key here is to look for cameras with a decent megapixel resolution. The Fujifilm mentioned above is fantastic at 16.4 megapixels. Anything above 10 megapixels isn’t a bad option, but the more you have, the crisper those images will be.

Optical zoom is definitely preferable. Don’t be fooled by cameras which use digital zoom. All that means is they can produce a cropped image with a poorer resolution! Optical zoom will allow your kid to get great close-ups without a significant loss of image quality.

Make it easy to print or share photos

A big part of the fun of photography is sharing those amazing photos.

Again, if you look at the Fujifilm FinePix XP120, this beautiful beast can wirelessly transfer photos to a phone, tablet or even direct to your printer!

This makes it that much easier to show those special shots off to family and friends.

One cool thing to encourage your budding photographer to do is to curate their own themed albums. Each album becomes a story unto itself and it’s a great way to teach the importance of editing and content management.

You can’t start them too early on that!

Stock up on SD cards and get an extra battery

If you do take the starter digital camera route, we highly recommend doubling down on SD cards on battery packs. Nothing is more frustrating than running out of power or storage.

Here’s a charger kit which works like a dream with the Fujifilm digital camera.

Should you get a Polaroid? Probably Not.

Our advice is, don’t get a Polaroid.

Polaroid camera

Sure, the instantaneous paper photo is fun, but there are two big downsides.

First up, your kid is going to take a million photos. We hate to put it so bluntly, but a lot of them aren’t going to be much good! With a Polaroid camera, you’re going to end up trading their college fund for instant film.

Secondly, the quality just isn’t that great. Polaroid pictures produce mushy, poorly exposed and generally pretty gosh darn shabby photos.

You’ll get much better quality photos with a digital camera at a fraction of the cost.

Final Tip: Stay Out of Their Way!

We have one last tip for encouraging your budding photographer.

Stay out of their way!

Adults change how kids use cameras. It’s natural to want to step in and show your young ‘un how to take that perfect shot, but by doing that they lose the opportunity to find their own unique perspective. It also takes away the journey of discovery that comes with learning how to get better through trial and error.

In a 2005 study of how kids use cameras, researchers looked at two groups: kids who took pictures while closely supervised by an adult and kids who just ran about taking pictures of whatever crazy, fun, weirdness that caught their eye.

child taking a photo

The first group took entirely conventional pictures. The second, unsupervised group took interesting and quirky pictures from unexpected and artistic angles.

So let your young photographer get creative! You might just be surprised at what they come up with.

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