Nancy Carr and her three grandchildren never go anywhere without their cameras. Even little Leo, who is now 2 years old, has been wearing a camera around his neck since he started walking. He isn’t sure what to do with it, but he holds it up to his face mimicking his cousins.
None of this is particularly surprising. Carr is director of worldwide communications for the Consumer Digital Imaging Group at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, N.Y., and loves sharing her passion for photography with her grandchildren: Sophie, 6, and Georgia, 3, who are sisters, and Leo, their cousin.
“I frequently ask them to photograph as many colors as they can find, or take pictures of objects shaped like the letters of the alphabet, or insist they shoot different shapes like circles, triangles, and squares.” says Carr. “That brings out the best in their photographic abilities. Games like this teach them how to see.”
For older grandchildren, such shoot-what-you-see games can make the mundane into something fascinating. Challenge them to take close-up photos of something like a potato or a doorknob and have the family guess what it is. Or have them paste a printed photo onto cardboard, then cut it up into a jigsaw puzzle.
Young children around the ages of Carr’s grandchildren take good pictures with the simplest point-and-shoot digital camera there is. “All they need is a bright LCD (liquid crystal display) screen so they can see what they are shooting,” says Carr. You’ll pay as little as $49 for one of these cameras on sale. (Click here for such offerings from amazon.com and here for offerings from cnet.com.) A single-use film camera, which comes in many styles, including one for use [pullquote align=left] underwater, also works well for young children.
Older children, say 10 and older, can easily use zoom lenses and flash, so their cameras will be priced around $99 and up. (Click here for amazon.com and here cnet.com offerings.) These cameras have the ability to shoot video clips, so the grandchildren can add music, make a movie, and e-mail it to friends and family.
The Do-It-Yourself Camera
An adventurous grandparent can join forces with a grandchild and make a pinhole camera. Instructions abound on the internet, but two easy-to-understand sites are Wandascott.com and kodak.com. In order to develop pictures from a pinhole camera, you’ll need a completely dark room and photographic chemicals, which are toxic and should be handled carefully. Even breathing the fumes can be dangerous. Some community centers still maintain darkrooms and allow outsiders to use them for a nominal charge. But proceed with caution and go this route only if you have familiarity with darkroom film processing.
An easier option might be the digital darkroom. Two of these, Picasa and Kodak Easyshare Software, can be downloaded for free and offer all kinds of photo-editing techniques, from adding sepia tones to increasing the contrast, sharpening the focus, cropping, and just about anything that used to be done in the traditional darkroom.
Once the photos are developed, grandchildren can easily make their own picture-adorned items, like a T-shirt, calendars, pillows, keepsake boxes, mouse pads, coasters, ornaments, tote bags, stickers, stamps, or a set of personalized playing cards. They can enter a photo contest or frame their favorites and hang them in their bedroom.
No matter how you and your grandchildren choose to use photography, it will bring you closer together and create lasting tangible memories.
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