Start them young

16 01 2012

I was given my first camera around the age of ten; it was a very basic point and shoot made by Kodak. So it would be natural for me to want my kids to have cameras as well. I have twin boys aged 7 – one of them I know definitely has an ‘eye’ – on the occasions that he has picked up one of my dslr cameras, there’s always been something interesting or usable in his pictures – even down to getting the horizon dead level in a landscape – something a few of us struggle with, right? ūüėČ

His brother, to¬† be fair, has never shown much interest in art or academia – he’s¬†far more interested in soccer or Pokemon. But¬†I gave them both the chance.¬† I started this little venture last year. On their seventh birthday, they both received¬† Kenko KF1n camera bodies, with 55mm F3.5 MicroNikkor lenses. These camera are film cameras: I had the idea that they should be able to enjoy the mechanical side of photography – what small boy doesn’t enjoy mechanics in motion? My good intentions however, were largely cast aside. They already knew that digital cameras existed. They were disappointed that they couldn’t see the pictures now. We lost the impetus, especially when Daddy forgot to take the films to be developed week after week. And there were mechanical issues too; the bodies both had manual film advance, too much of a struggle for small hands. However both boys learned to hold a camera, and got a rudimentary idea of focusing. A week or so ago, a friend of mine offered his old DSLR to any deserving cause – what was more deserving than my two boys?

Both boys are now kitted out with Nikon D70 bodies (I had one that had been ‘retired’ after arrival of the D1x), and the MicroNikkor lenses that came with their film camera bodies – part of¬†my reason for using Nikon. These cameras unfortunately don’t meter with manual focus lenses, so Daddy needs to set the exposure on each body. But the kids are now quite competent at focusing accurately, with these old manual focus lenses. Rex is the ‘artistic’ one, the one who six months ago had expressed a desire to take photos of wildlife (round here that means beetles, birds, flowers and turtles) – hence my choice of Micro Nikkor lenses. His brother Nash has actually dived in headfirst. Much to my amazement. Maybe it’s emulating his peers, but he has been shooting like crazy this past week.

The pictures they take, good or not, give me an extra insight into their minds. What really matters. When the questions come, I’ll be ready for them. But for now we’re just enjoying the ride. Here’s Nash’s first picture¬† (top). This is a wall in our living room that my wife has decorated with a few framed snaps. Rex has perhaps a better handle on the focusing, and here’s his portrait of one of our neighbours (bottom).

Nash's first ever shot. Rex' best shot so far

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