Taking Photos Background Information for Teachers and Parents

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about taking photos and photography. The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Taking Photos. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

Many children start taking pictures from an early age using a digital camera or even a phone. Photography is an art they can practice, a hobby they can develop, and a skill they can apply. Children can document projects at school or use photographs to accompany personal writing. Encourage children to explore photography and look at the world around them as opportunities to explore and document. This movie will explain the basic parts of a digital camera, as well as share tips on how to compose and take clear photographs.

Review the main features of a camera with children. While there are many different kinds of cameras, there are common parts. All cameras have a lens, which is like the eye of the camera. Digital cameras have a screen on the back. When the lens is pointed at something, the image of it shows up on the screen. Some cameras have a zoom lens, which means the lens can change its focus. Remind children that a zoom lens can make something seem bigger or smaller. The shutter is the button that takes the picture. Many cameras have a flash, or a light that goes off. The flash helps light up the area so you can see it better in the photograph. Since cameras differ, we recommend exploring and reviewing the parts and features of the camera children will be using.

We recommend that children put the camera strap around their wrists when they take pictures. This will add a safety measure in case the camera slips out of their hands. In addition, remind children to avoid touching the camera lens. If the lens is scratched, all photographs will be affected. They should also not use their shirts or fingers to wipe the camera lens. Explain that lenses are fragile, and require special cloth and cleanser to clean them.

Share tips on how to take clear photographs with children. Review that the subject of a photo is the person, place, or thing that is being photographed. Encourage children to think about where the subject is located in the shot when they are taking pictures. Is part of the subject cut off in a weird way? Is the camera crooked? Remind children to try to hold their hands still when they take pictures. If the camera is shaky, the photograph might come out blurry. Children should also make sure nothing is blocking lens, such as their hands or a camera strap.

Review with children that framing is a way to bring attention to the subject of a picture or video by blocking or including things near it. Framing can communicate a feeling or an idea. We recommend looking at different photographs and discussing the framing of each picture. Sometimes there are items in the foreground or background that help the viewer focus on the subject. Encourage children to take a variety of different pictures and experiment. Take photos of a subject from different spots and angles. Look for subjects with interesting colors, shapes, and textures. Explore things that close up or far away.

Photography is not only an art, but also a skill. Encourage children to practice and explore. Have them apply these skills the next time they take a picture of a family member or document something for a science project!