For the past eight years, I have served as a 4-H volunteer, teaching kids ranging from kindergarten through high school age. I have always felt that community involvement and education are incredibly important, so teaching photography has been a natural step for me. Giving children in the community the opportunity to see what a professional does, in any field, exposes them to the behind-the-scenes so they can appreciate what is required in a specific profession.
Many children- and adults, as well- think photography is easy. All you have to do is push a button, right? But there is actually a lot that goes into capturing a beautiful photograph. In our classes we cover the basic mechanics of using a camera, exposure, composition, depth of field, capturing motion, macrophotography and other important photography approaches.
Because I’m working with a wide range of children, I try to find ways to turn concepts into something fun. When demonstrating how a camera works, for example, I turned my basement into a pinhole camera. All the windows were covered with a single hole to let light in the room. All the kids came in and sat down facing the wall opposite the window, and we turned off the light. The scene from outside the window appeared on the wall, upside down, just like it does when photographed. Essentially the entire 4H group was inside a camera… and they loved it!
Beyond the tools we learn in our ever-evolving classrooms, photography also teaches kids how to see things they might normally miss. I try to teach kids to open their eyes to things they might otherwise walk past. Photography has become an important part of our culture and I hope the skills I teach can be used beyond the classroom.
Some of the work of 4H class members: