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I do a lot of work in schools, not just taking photos but running iPad photography workshops too.
The great thing about teaching on iPads is that the skills can be transferred to whatever device the pupils have access to at home, whether that's a camera, smartphone or tablet. During the workshops we covered rules of composition, how to work with available light, choosing the right location/background and the importance of checking your frame (no one wants a toilet sign ruining a beautiful portrait).
I was blown away by how quickly the pupils I teach (who were only 10 or 11 years old) grasped quite technical concepts and it was fantastic seeing displays of their photos on subsequent visits to the schools.
The new 22-23 school year will see me taking my workshops forward by launching a weekly school photography club, Happy Snappers, at Poplar Primary School in Morden. I can't wait to see the images their budding photographers create.
In the meantime, if your child is keen to take some photos over the summer holidays, especially with a smartphone or tablet, here are some top tips.
#1 - Turn on the 'Grid' (smartphones/tablets)
Have you ever taken a photo that's a bit wonky and you find yourself tilting your head a bit when looking at it? You can usually straighten this afterwards but this is easily avoided when you take the photo by using the grid function on your camera. Professional cameras have it as do most smartphones and tablets.
On an iPhone/iPad you should find this in Settings > Camera > Composition > GRID > ON. This will add a faint overlay of 2 horizontal and 2 vertical lines on your camera display. This will help with composition and lining up elements of your photo which need to be precisely upright (eg. buildings, lamposts, walls) or flat (eg. the horizon, flat ground, ceilings). It will also help with the Rule of Thirds - the main composition rule in photography which I covered in my workshops and I will do in greater depth in the Happy Snappers club. Here's a great blog about the Rule of Thirds if you want to find out more. It's a game-changer.
#2 - Location, Location, Location
Location (ie. the background) is one of the most important things to consider when taking photos. If your subject is portable (eg. a person, animal, vase of flowers etc.) you can move them/it to avoid unwanted backgrounds eg. a busy road, scaffolding, toilet signs, dustbins, other people. If you're photographing a family trip to the beach, looking out to sea and the horizon would usually make a better background than a busy road and a parade of shops. Always look around you to see if there's a better location.
#3 - Zoom with your Feet (smartphones/tablets)
It's easy to zoom in on a phone/tablet by touching the screen with two fingers and spread them out or maybe there's a slider you can use, depending on what device you're using. But...just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
Using this 'digital' zoom to make your subject bigger in your frame, rather than physically getting closer to your subject by walking towards them (ie. zooming with your feet), can really reduce the quality of the photo. Try it for yourself and you'll see how a digital zoom makes your photo look pixelated but if you just move yourself (and your camera) closer, it'll look much clearer. Obviously there are times when you can't get closer to your subject but please avoid using the digital zoom where possible.
#4 - Tap to Focus (smartphones/tablets)
When you're ready to take your photo, tap the screen (on your smartphone/tablet) on the part of the scene you want the focus to be on. If it's a close-up portrait (perhaps a headshot) it would be on one of the eyes. If it's a lighthouse, it would be the light at the top, if it's Big Ben, it would be the clock face, if it's the front of your house, it would be the front door. You get the idea.
With iPads it can be quite tricky to hold it steady AND tap to focus and then tap on the button to take the photo but on most phones/tablets you can use the volume button at the side to take the photo (but look out for camera shake).
It can be really fun experimenting with photography, especially now it's mostly digital. You can be bold and try new ideas and if something doesn't work, you can see there and then, delete it and try something else. None of this sending-off-a-film-to-be-developed-and-getting-it-back-a-week-later which is how it worked when I got my first camera.
As with everything else creative, there's always something to learn with photography and the more you do it, the better you'll get so go out there and have fun.
I've launched a free Photography Challenge for the summer holidays with 20 themes for you to capture. See how many you can photograph before the start of term.