How to Shoot Like a Child

My new photographic inspiration is my 3 year old niece Amelia. She shoots photos with “Amelia TV” (her codename for her iPad mini) without hesitation, and with so much joy and wonderment!

Cindy taught Amelia how to shoot photos, and Cindy told Amelia that making photos was “magic”. And now whenever Amelia runs around and takes photos, Amelia says, “I’m making magic!”

To me this is awesome, because it reminds me of when I was a kid, and when photography was indeed magic! I still remember when I first saw a digital point and shoot camera for the first time (Canon Powershot) with an LCD screen where you could actually see what you were photographing, and which you could instantly review your photos without having to take it to get developed at the drug store! (like I had to do with disposable film cameras). To me the digital point and shoot camera was pure magic!

I remember when Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPhone and said that it was like magic. And it was, and still is!

It’s sad that most of us have become so jaded, and we have lost that childlike sense of wonder and appreciation for our magical technology, like taking photos for virtually free.

Does photography still amaze you?

So the first step is try to think back to the first time you took a photo, and how amazed you were!

Apparently the story of how the Polaroid camera was invented was when Edwin Land’s daughter asked him,

“Daddy, why do I need to wait before seeing the photo I shot?”

Edwin Land asked himself, “Yeah, why does film processing take so long?” So he took it to himself to invent a process which yielded instant film photos (the Polaroid!) Ironically enough most teenagers are more amazed to see photos come out of an instant camera (like a Fujifilm Instax) more so than their insanely powerful iPhones.

Digital photography is magic!

Second, let us find more appreciation for digital and phone photography, where we can get instant feedback.

I’ve actually discovered that after shooting exclusively film for around 3 years, I have so much more appreciation for shooting with a phone or digital camera! It still blows my mind how efficiently I can shoot with a Phone, process the pictures with VSCO (app), then instantly share/upload it online!

So perhaps a way to appreciate modern digital photography more is to go old school, and shoot exclusively film for a while! Shoot with a disposable film camera, or any old film camera lying around at home. Or ask friends and family for an old film camera to test out. Shoot Ilford XP2 if you want to shoot black and white and get it developed easily, or shoot Kodak Portra 400 for color or Kodak Trix and push it to 1600 (more into in FILM NOTES).

Also another tip: crouch down very low (Asian kim chi squat) style.

The benefit: you can literally see the world from the eyes of a child.

Most of the modern world is designed for adults. Do you remember as a kid, not being able to see over the counter of McDonald’s? Or when you went to the bathroom, you needed assistance to pee? Yeah, all of that stuff was designed for adults, not children.

Therefore children have a funny way of seeing the world: they look at stuff made for adults from a low perspective that was unintended.

Experiment by crouching down to shoot more and look up! Use your phone or camera with a tilting lcd screen and put your camera on the ground.

Literally see the world from a new perspective.

Have fun!

Children have no concept of Facebook, Instagram, social media, or getting “likes”. Instead, when they take photos they just have fun! They shoot photos with delight, smile, joke, and have fun!

They like to shoot photos, briefly look at them, and go “onto the next one”! They’re more interested in exploring the world and taking photos, instead of sharing photos and getting admiration/acclaim/approval from others.

In other words, children have more fun taking photos than getting praised for them.

Practical ideas on how to shoot like a child:

  1. Whenever you see something that interests you, say “Wow!” and take a photo
  2. Don’t feel forced to share your photos with others. After you take your photos look at them yourself, and ask yourself: “Do I like my own photos?”
  3. Ask yourself, “Do I see photography as magic?” Because it is!


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