Holidays are one of the greatest things you can share with your children. Exposure to different ways of life, from Cornwall’s beach towns to the streets of Lisbon are all given extra zing when seen through the eyes of a mini person.
Recent research from American Express revealed that 70 per cent of parents1 believe that travel broadens children’s interests. And putting a camera in their hands while they’re exploring also gives them a chance to develop their fledgling photography skills. The creative ways that children think – and the stories they love to tell – make them natural budding David Baileys. You might walk straight past that sand-covered shell, but they’ll stop and unearth it, reminding you not to take the earth’s beauty for granted.
Use these tips to nurture their talent. They get a new skill, you learn from their un-jaded view of the world. Wanderlust win.
1. Embrace the early mornings
Little ones are sure to wake up at dawn when they’re excited. The great news is that those first golden beams are ideal environments to start snapping. Head out from your hotel, apartment or villa and explore your new environment before the world has risen. The sense of adventure will help your baby Rankin to associate the camera with a sense of novelty, cementing a life long love.
2. Encourage experimentation
“I always say to kids, the best way to learn is to experiment by taking lots of different types of shots and using the different camera settings” says photographer and children’s photography teacher Lillie Spibey. Ask your kids to play around with the settings and encourage them to try shooting diverse objects and places (be warned their instinct may be to repeatedly photograph the same patch of wall again and again).
3. Help them to record ‘forever memories’
The world moves fast when you’re a child, and your eight-year-old might not remember every detail of that trip to Crete. Build up their passion for photos by honing in on the little things on holiday. “Things like the flowers in bloom, the colour of the sand on the beach and your favourite drinks,” advises Spibey.
4. Set challenges
To keep things interesting, turn photography into a game. When you’re travelling, give them a new project each day: to do portraits of people, or to snap every car they see.
5. Let the kids take charge
“The great thing about kids taking pictures on holiday is that they are excited about their travelling experience, therefore, they want to capture those moments. This produces much more creative and interesting photos,” says Spibey. So let them say where they want to go and want they want to snap – you’ll get to see the world through their eyes and they’ll love feeling in charge.
6. Get them a durable camera
“Start off your child with a cheap, durable, digital camera,” says travel blogger and father-of-two Josh Bender, of Travel With Bender. “I gave my daughter a sturdy little camera to see if she would take to it. After she loved her first attempts, we upgraded her camera, so she’s now learning skills like alignment, contrast, placement of subjects, lighting and framing.”
7. Just keep swimming
One surefire way to get the kids excited about becoming Testinos-in-training? Let them have a waterproof camera – and take it everywhere. “Kids always love the idea of taking photos underwater,” says Spibey.
8. Learn about light
If all of your child’s snaps look like blobs, they’ll lose interest in photography pretty quickly. So, it’s best to teach them a few easy-to-follow basics.
When it comes to lighting, they need to find where the sun is and make sure it’s behind them (and on the right or left for dramatic shadows).
9. Go crazy for colour
Fun shapes and bright colours are always interesting subject matter for young snappers. Spibey recommends looking out for stalls piled high with fruits and vegetables, or the bright lights of an amusement park.
10. Download the Whipper Snapper Activity Book
To help your family put these tips into practice, pick up a copy of the Whipper Snapper Activity Book. Created by American Express in collaboration with a professional photographer and his son, it’s a kid’s activity book on photography that’s packed with advice and inspiration on exploring the world through photography.
11. Get composing
Kids aren’t too young to learn a thing or two about photo composition: show them how taking a picture of Notre Dame cathedral can be more interesting when it’s shifted to the left, rather than bang-on centre.
12. Keep them busy on car journeys
Photos are brilliant for keeping kids entertained on to-and-from airport car trips. Let them spend the time getting to know the cameras settings and challenge them to take a shot they’re proud of while in transit.
13. Love local customs
From Holi in Delhi to watching London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display from Hampstead Heath, occasions charged with colour will coax your little ones out of their shell and get them engaging with the people and things around them.
UPDATE: Please be advised that this competition has now closed.
If you have a budding photographer under the age of 12 on your hands, then enter the Through The Eyes Of The Whipper Snappers prize draw* by submitting their photos of how they see the world.
If you want to bring a new perspective to family holidays or days out together, download the Whipper Snapper activity book from American Express which is full of fun, practical photo ‘quests’ and tips that will help your kids to show you how they see the world.
1 Research commissioned by American Express of 1,000 parents with children under 10 in the UK who were interviewed in November 2016.
*Terms and Conditions: This prize draw is free to enter. Only open to UK residents aged 18 or over. Enter between 6/3/17 and 23/3/17 by uploading a photo taken by a child under the age of 12 to enter prize draw. Entrants must be the parent or guardian of the child under the age of 12. Prizes: 1x Family holiday to Malta (e.g. 2 adults 2 children), with transport and accommodation included. For full T&Cs see here. Promoter: American Express Services Europe Limited.