Fun Kids’ Photography Primer: Toys as Art

Skylander figure

Skylander figure, Stealth Elf. We used a lamp with a red lampshade to get sunset effect in the sky and a green blanket as grass. We used the Pixelmator tool (Mac) to add muted effect and star effect

What is the easiest way to get kids interested in photography? Raid the toy box and make the toys the subject of the photo. That’s what we did. Oh, and the lesson goes way beyond composition, lighting, and set design. We even delved into software to enhance the photos once we’ve taken the shots.

Here are some of basic elements kids can use with even the most simple camera

1. Lighting - Using an ordinary lamp with a colorful lampshade, shine the light on the subject and move it around to show how different angles of lighting produce different effects, shadows, etc.

2. Background – Build the background out of anything! We painted a sky and hill scene on a large piece of old cardboard using tempera paint. We also use green throw blankets as grass. You could use tablecloths, curtains, towels or anything of the appropriate color.

3. Composition. There are many ways to enhance your photos through composing subjects. But the easiest way to get a pleasing arrangement is to use the Rule of Thirds. Check out Michael Connet’s video on The Rule of Thirds for more information. Try getting in close if your toy has rich detail or zoom out to incorporate a large grouping.

4. Software – Online photo editing software tools, like Pixlr, work great for cropping, cutting, and even colorizing or adding special effect filters to photos. Let kids experiment with different tools and settings. Pixlr is easy to learn and no special software is required. And when you’ve completed your masterpieces, simply download them to your computer hard drive. For those with tablet computers, search the app stores for appropriate programs. There are some great photo editing tools for tablet devices, but the best ones may not be free.

5. Camera – Even film cameras can be used with these tips as long as you can get a digital copy of the print when you get the film developed. If your camera doesn’t have a flash or if the flash is too harsh, set your composition close to a sunlit window. Or, if possible, take it outside for some natural lighting. Some people put tissue paper over the flash to soften the light.

Try these tricks and share your successes with us!

Skylander game figures Flameslinger and Eruptor

We used a red lamp base behind Skylander figures as a lava glob. Used Pixelmator software to add “lava” to the background


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