If your child insists on grabbing for your smartphone, put it to your advantage and let them use it to take photos of the natural world in action.
Observing and photographing nature is an enriching hobby that helps your child observe and learn in nature. To be a good nature photographer, your child will have to learn how to be a "quiet observer," practicing patience and bodily control as they look for signs of how wildlife uses habitat for food, water, cover, a place to raise young. This is an excellent way for any child to experience tuning into the natural world and connecting with nature.
With smartphones in abundance in our world, starting photography is a lot easier than it used to be. No need to study aperture, f stop and certainly no need to have access to a dark room (those are of course excellent technical skills and knowledge for more advanced child photographers). Still, if you don't want hundreds of blurry images or thumb shots on your phone, there are some extra steps to take to help your child get the most out of their outdoor sessions. Learning what they can about the wildlife or habitat ahead of time will help them understand what they are seeing. Also, helping them practice sitting for 10 minutes before snapping any shots is another excellent technique for child photographers. The National Wildlife Federation has put together some excellent tips to help get your kids clicking away.
Need an extra incentive besides the benefits of being out in nature and tuning into the natural world? Check out some of the many wildlife photography contests that your child can enter:
The National Wildlife Federation hosts The National Wildlife® Photo Contest, as well as the 2nd annual Garden for Wildlife™ Photo Contest in the summer. The contest is open for photo submissions that highlight the impact of habitat gardens on wildlife and people alike.
Ranger Rick magazine wants your kids to send them their best original nature photographs. Any photo with a wildlife or landscape theme, taken with a camera or phone is eligible. A winner is selected each month!
Born Free hosts a photography competition #ShootToThrill open to anyone with a camera. The contest encourages you to get outside and photograph wildlife as it should
be – in the wild.
The Natural History Museum, London's Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and the Nature Conservancy's annual photo contest do not have a category for child photographers. But these esteemed contests can certainly provide much inspiration. Check out some winning photos below: