The most important thing I've learned with younger students is to give them time to explore with the camera before beginning a project. For many students, using a viewfinder to frame a picture is a new experience, but with a little preparation and planning, even kindergarten students can use digital cameras successfully.
Basic Rules for Camera Use
Before you begin, hold an orientation session with your students. When teaching students how to use a digital camera, I review the following rules:
1. Always use the neck or wrist strap when carrying a camera.
You'd be surprised how many adults don't follow this simple rule! You can save yourself and your students a lot of misery by helping them protect the camera from drops.
2. Keep fingers off the lens and LCD.
I tell my students that a camera's lens is much like a pair of glasses. If you get fingerprints and dirt on the lens, your camera can't "see" very well and as a result, pictures won't look their best.
3. Never directly point a camera with a flash in someone's eyes.
Just one more lesson in courtesy that students can learn. No one likes to be temporarily blinded by a flash when they're not expecting it!
4. Turn your camera off and place it back in its bag when not in use.
By following this rule, students save battery life (important when sharing one camera among many students) and help keep the camera out of harm's way.
Simple Tips for Better Pictures
When using lower-end cameras, picture quality can be greatly improved by just reminding students of two simple rules:
- Make sure your subject is no closer than arm's length
- Hold the camera still and steady for a second or two after taking your shot.