Ok, I know you may be thinking, “How is take a kid shooting a wildlife photography tip?” Maybe it isn’t in the traditional sense. Regardless, I was thinking about an ad campaign here in the United States that promoted fishing whose slogan was “Take a kid fishing” and it got me to thinking about photography and a similar slogan that could be “Take a Kid Shooting”. I have a grandson that has taken a liking to photography having been influenced by his father and grandfather’s love of taking photos. His interest has given me the pleasure to take him out and have him shoot with me from time to time.
You know what? The kid has a better artistic eye for composition than I do. He also is amazingly patient in waiting for his subject to turn its head to just the right angle before pushing the shutter button. He has far less of a “spray and pray” mentality than even I do at times and I have been amazed at what he sees at such a young age and without instruction. Here are a couple of photos the he has recently taken with his Nikon D40 and 70-300 lens:
So where is the photography tip? Well, it is in the idea that first we learn, then we do and then we teach. It is in these teaching moments that we take time to think about what we do, why we do it and how it affects our results. As we ponder these things to pass it on to our children and grandchildren, we reinforce our own skills as well as evaluate what we can do differently.
Will this make us better photographers? I think so, but more importantly, the time spent with our children strengthens family bonds. My son loves to fish and now has his own kids and is already taking them fishing with him even though his son is only 2 years old. I know he will be a great dad, he already is, but he will never regret sharing his passion for the hobbies he loves with his kids. It isn’t the specific hobby, but rather, the time spent sharing that is important.
In a world consumed with selfishness, and I am guilty, wouldn’t we all be better off if we shared more? I think we all learned by age 5 to share, but somehow we grow old and some of us forget that important lesson. Who hasn’t enjoyed sharing their passion about something like photography and felt the joy? Sharing our photos is central to the idea of taking them in the first place. As we take the younger generations out with us and share our love for nature and photography, there are benefits in addition to the family time spent together.
First, it gets them away from the video games and televisions and gets them outside. Many of us remember that we could play outside “until the street lights came on”. At least that was my family’s rule when I was young and that was my signal to come home after playing. Sadly, today we have to protect our kids a bit more and so we don’t let them play unsupervised as much as we used to. It’s no wonder that they spend their time watching tv or playing video games – we contributed to it.
Second, it gives them an opportunity to stop and observe nature – it is amazing the things that nature photographers learn as they watch their subjects. Sometimes it interests us enough to go home and do research on something we saw or thought about. That mental stimulation is good for us old folks as it makes the brain work and slows the aging process. It is also amazing what we see as we watch wildlife for an extended period of time and as we witness these wonders first hand, it makes us appreciate the gift that this world is. It is that appreciation that makes us and our children want to be better stewards of the environment.
Lastly, getting out and carrying camera gear on a brief hike in a park is a lot more fun and interesting than carrying a couple of 2 pound weights or cans of soup around the block for exercise. Who doesn’t benefit from more exercise?
Recently, I was in a local park taking photos when I ran into a father and son that I know. I didn’t realize that they enjoyed photography together and have created a website of their adventures. As I talked to the father, I learned that they often go out and are learning about the subjects they see and photograph. I am certain this family is seeing benefits of the time spent practicing their hobby together and in the meantime, they are creating more than just photos.
The next time you go out, consider taking a child with you and see if you don’t get rejuvenated as you help them take photos. Watch for their excitement as they capture a moment that they were able to witness and are proud of. Watch their expression as they review the shot they just took. Remember that feeling? I do, I still have it and I still love it! I am sure many of you have taken family members out to take photos and we would love to hear about your experiences – both serious and humorous. Remember, it’s better to share!