Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday 5: Things I learned teaching nature photography to kids

I've been a little busy lately (I know; haven't we all), but I'm actually trying to build up a buffer so I can really write polished posts again -- funny stuff, poignant stuff, all that crap. I miss that. I'm also streamlining how I handle my blog and my various other time-sucks, so I can get to know more of you. (Find me on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook; we can waste time together!)

But I have been doing stuff! Story pitches. Research. And sometimes, I even get out of the house. I taught a kids' photography workshop at the Chandler Environmental Education Center. After some first-timer fumbling, I do hope I taught them a thing or two and we all had a good time, in the classroom, but mostly in the field. It's all stuff that's old-hat to my photographer friends, and even many who've read some posts here, so I'll go a different route. Here are five lessons they taught me.

1. Streams must always be crossed. Repeatedly. Here's how to tell which side of the stream is best: It's not where you are at the moment.

Make sure you choose the mossiest, most slippery rocks when crossing. If you feel like you're slipping, fling your camera around a few times for balance. Especially if it's holding the instructor's telephoto lens.

2. You might have to go through the mud. Scratch that. You'll always have to go through the mud. Don't worry; you can take your shoes off and leave them behind for the instructor! Also, try to spread yourselves out as widely as possible, especially if there's only one adult watching you all. If she looks worried about keeping an eye on the two of you at the stream, the one by the cactus and the rest stalking the egret, don't worry. She's savoring the challenge.

3. The best place to hold a photograph is with your thumb pressed firmly into the front of the print. The best way to hold pricey camera equipment is however the hell you want. If it's your turn to borrow the telephoto lens and you notice the instructor's eyes bugging as she appears to be using the force to stop the lens from careening into stuff, don't worry. It's just another challenge! See how the game works?

4. Teachers love when you take surreptitious pictures of them. Seriously. They don't mind at all that you're clicking and giggling away in the middle of a lecture. And they especially love the up-the-nostril angle you capture from your seat.

5. Bugs are beautiful. Pooping is funny. That orange rust-colored stuff in the water is really a plant. It doesn't matter if you don't know what you're doing; just start doing it and it'll come. Smelly feathers are still worth saving. Make sure you pick up stray fishing line. Surreptitiously remove the bread from the ducks after the old couple walks away; supply cracked corn instead. Protect the birds' nests. Cormorants look like they're stuck up. Kids are freaking wonderful.


Dawn Suzette said... Best Blogger Tips

This is great! Glad you had a good time! What fun for the kids!

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you! I did have a great time, and I hope they did as well. :-)

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Ha ha ha ha ha! I love the bit about how they hold the camera. In my experience, it's with grubby fingers all over the lens. Reminds me of the time I handed my DSLR to my little cousin to take a photo of the sea turtles behind the house my family was staying at during my sister's wedding. I carefully wrapped the strap around her head, told her to be really careful, told her how to make it work, and she reached out to pick up the camera to get a shot and... picked it up by the glass on the lens. To be fair, I didn't tell her NOT to touch the lens, but I cringed horribly when I saw her do that.

I've taught kids photography before and I had basically all the same experiences as you. Isn't it fun?

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

About to give a one day camp on nature photography... Thanks for the tips...wish me luck!