By Dino Tozzi
This Skill Building Activity To Create Memories That Will Last A Lifetime.
I am lucky enough to be the dad to the “famous” WOLF from WOLF+ FRIENDS. Wolf is five-years-old and at his age, he is pretty familiar with all things digital—a laptop computer, an iPad, an iPhone and all of the photography apps that go along with them—Instagram, Snapchat etc. There's nothing wrong with using a digital camera or iPhone to take pictures, but the value of using film cameras (and that includes a polaroid camera) is that this kind of photography gives children an opportunity to slow things down; there is a sequence that needs to be learned and followed before a shot can be taken. Looking through the viewfinder at your subject, making the choice of whether to take that shot or not, learning to wait for the photographs to be developed, and the excitement and the wonder of seeing the pics for the first time.
A few weeks ago, our family was invited to a party. On the way, we stopped at CVS and I purchased two disposable film cameras, one for me and one for Wolf. I talked him through how to use it. It took him a few times to fully grasp it, but when we were at the party he snapped away all night. The next day, we dropped off the film to be developed and we counted down the days to when they were ready to be picked up. When we finally got the photos, Wolf went through them and decided which photos he liked the best and which ones he felt needed more practice. He put the 'good ones' in an album, he calls his memory book and asked when we could go out and take some more pictures.
The best part of all of this is when Wolf asks me if I want to see his memory book. He talks me through each image, what he was thinking, how he felt and why he took the shot – whether it be Grandpa’s birthday party or that time when mummy fell over in the snow. Because the shot was considered while he was taking the photo his recall is more detailed and vivid. There seems to be something more precious to him because this has been something that he has created. It's something that he can touch and feel.
I'm not a photographer, but I enjoy taking photos. When Wolf grows up he may be a photographer or he may not. Either way, when he is using a camera he is developing his concentration skills and the ability to really observe his environment and surroundings. It brings him joy and it makes him happy, and who doesn't want a happy kid !
Here are some of my favorite cameras for kids...
Polaroid Snap: This camera is simple to use with easy to identify buttons for little fingers. This camera not only functions as an instant camera, just load the polaroid paper and snap – your picture will print immediately – but it also has the capabilities of a digital camera when you insert a memory card. It has some great settings when taking your shot – color, sepia and black and white, so experimentation is easy and more cost effective than buying different color film for 35mm cameras. Something that I also really like is the polaroid paper is peel off back and sticky backed so no doubt you will find photos stuck to everything – fridges, backpacks and possible even the family dog !
Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Camera: A true instant camera but with a slim and lightweight body. Pictures are printed on a credit card size film which is the perfect size to keep in little pockets. There is a target spot on the viewfinder that allows for easy framing of the shot. If you want to up your game a little when it comes to explaining the difference between different lighting conditions there is a brightness adjuster on the camera. This is a good way to develop a slightly more advanced level of photographic skills and understanding of photography.
Disposable Cameras: Cheap, easy to use and a lot of fun. Buy a whole bunch of these and give them to all of the kids at a birthday party. See what kind of results you get back once the film is developed! A great first camera for learning the steps of taking photographs.
Diana Mini: This camera is an amazing introduction camera to 35mm film photography. It is small and produces wonderful high quality snapshots you can also attach a flash for low light conditions. It can also be mounted on a tripod and shots can be taken with a cable release for great selfies!