I think the first camera that I could call my own was a Kodak easy-load 126 cartridge film Instamatic in the early 1960s. I received that simple plastic Instamatic “snapshot” camera (that had no adjustments other than the setting for flash cubes and one for natural light photographs) in the sixth grade and saved money I earned at odd jobs to buy the 20 shot cartridges.
It was so much easier to use than my parent’s awkward folding camera. All one had to do was point and shoot. Sure some shots were overexposed, some were underexposed and there were the expected blurry photos because the subject was moving too fast or because of camera shake, but I didn’t really care, I just wanted a picture to remember.
I’d take my film to a drive-through Fotomat kiosk located in a nearby shopping center parking lot, then return the next day for an envelope filled with pictures that I would glue in a photo album.
I still have a couple tattered old albums with wavy edged 4×6-inch, unglued photos stuffed between the pages because the little black adhesive corners became useless many years ago.
I thought about all that as I sat watching Jo’s five-year-old daughter walk around my yard with a modern DSLR I gave her to use so she could take pictures like her photographer mother.
This was Evinn’s first chance at being left alone to make pictures with a big camera. She is always joining her mother for photo sessions, so all I had to do was set the camera on P mode, put the zoom focal length at 18 mm and show her where the shutter release is on the camera. Then step away as she pointed the camera just like mom.
We wandered around and she photographed anything that caught her eye. (There must be 50 or so exposures of Bailin the cat). When her mother returned they sat on the porch and scrolled through the pictures on the LCD. That instant reinforcement is great for building confidence and creating a young artist. Even at five years old.
I saved her 198 images in a file on my computer and will transfer the file to Jo’s computer so Evinn can look at the pictures she made again. I will also go through her files with her and pick out a couple to make 8×10 prints she can show to people.
Gosh, modern digital cameras are so much better and way easier to use than those old film cameras, especially for a child. The cost alone would scare a parent away from getting a camera for their young son or daughter.
Evinn has 198 pictures that she can look at and save as memories and it won’t cost anything if none are printed.
I’ll let her try the camera again and eventually I will help her with her camera techniques. There is no hurry, the most important part is getting really comfortable with the camera. I think I will change the lens to a fixed (prime) wide angle. A wide angle will help her get more in-focus shots. The 18-105 mm that she used didn’t allow very close focusing or as fast focusing as a 50 mm would. I also have a 60 mm macro in my shop that I might bring home for some close flower shots.
For those that would like to give their child a DSLR I would suggest looking for some older used cameras. Not only would they be inexpensive, but if the camera is damaged it’s not a big deal.
Stay safe and be creative. These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at www.enmanscamera.com or email@example.com.