Help Kids Save Summer Moments With Photos
Family memories come alive when you flip through your scrapbooks and photo albums. There's your son - now a tween - sticking his toes in the ocean for the first time as a toddler. And there's your daughter as a preschooler "helping" your spouse pack the car for a family vacation. The way time flies by so quickly, it's important to capture as many of these moments as you possibly can.
But when you're trying to capture the memories this summer, why not let your child give it a shot, too?
"Giving your child a camera and letting her take some pictures actually helps you learn more about your child," says Sarah Akers, photographer and mother of three in Creedmore. "I'll take pictures of things like architecture, but my son's busy taking pictures of trees and squirrels.
It helps you see what's important and special to your child by seeing what they capture with a camera."
So while you might remember the traffic on the way to the beach this year, your child's photos en route may help everyone remember that funky ice cream stand where you stopped along the way or those odd bugs at the cabin.
"Be sure to give your child a camera you feel comfortable with them using," Akers advises. "You don't want either one of you to be worried about her dropping and breaking it. And let them know they're free to put down the camera and go play. They don't have to just take pictures. If they see something that they're interested in, they can grab the camera, take a picture and go back to exploring."
Want to get your child started snapping photos this summer? Here are some tips and ideas to help you both:
Go on a scavenger hunt.
One way to get your young shutterbug fired up is to set up a scavenger hunt. Make a list of things to snap around your house or in the yard. Or head to the park with your list. Suggest obvious things like leaves, birds and cars, but also challenge your child with items like "something moving" or "something from a funny angle."
"That teaches kids to slow down and really look at things," Akers says. "It develops their creativity,
giving them a new way to look at things and see things they might otherwise miss."
To help you get started, we've set up a special reverse scavenger hunt of places around the Triangle. See the "Find the Photo" box, on page 33, for more info.
Plan a themed photo safari.
Another way to have some fun with photography is to set aside days for a "photo safari." Pick a theme for your safari so you and your children or other group members will explore the same ideas. Then get together to look at what each person captured.
You can pick themes like "things that are blue," "things that start with L" or "close ups." Or have everyone bring along a small object or stuffed animal and pose it in different places.
Spell it out.
Challenge your kids to take pictures of letters to spell out a word. These can be actual letters from signs or objects that create shapes. Looking down at a fire hydrant might show a "Q" or a close-up of a grate could be the missing "H" to spell "happy."
There are more ways to capture summer memories and adventures than using a camera, of course. Give everyone a new notebook or special journal to write down memories of fun times. Or encourage your child to illustrate his summer memories in a sketch diary.
Sketching something lets you slow down and fully "see" what you're looking at, says Karen Lee, artist and mother of two in Cary. "When you're drawing something, you see parts of it you might overlook by just glancing at it," she says. "And you're also adding some of your perspective to that object or scene."
That bug you see from your adult perspective might be transformed into a 20-legged monster from your child's whimsical point of view.
If your child is unsure about committing pencil to paper, "focus on something small, like one part of what you're looking at," Lee says. "And then build around that. At the beach, you could start with a sandcastle or shell and add to that drawing."
Kathleen M. Reilly is a freelance writer and mom in the Triangle.
There's an app for that!
If you have a smartphone, let your child fool around with some of these cool apps to transform a simple photo into a masterpiece.
Pick a couple words and this app transforms the colors in your photo into typography. Your campfire is magically transformed into "flames," "s'mores" and "fun." Available for iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S; iPod touch (third and fourth generations) and iPad, version 4.0 and higher. $1.99.
Want to make it look like you've drawn your vacation pictures? With ToonPAINT, it's easy and fun to make that possible. Open any picture and this app converts it to a line drawing for you to color in any way you like. Available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, version 5.0 or higher. $1.99.
Transform your photos into images composed of bubbles of different sizes and colors. With dozens of combinations, it's possibly the most fun way to perk up your pictures. Available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, version 4.3 or higher. $1.99.
My Week in Pictures
Going on a long adventure? This app will keep track of which day you snap which picture and prompts you at the end of the week to build a unique photo collage. Available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, version 4.0 or higher. $1.99
Enter Our Family Travel Photo Contest to Win a Great Getaway!
Share your family summer vacation pictures in our family travel photo contest and you could win a prize, including a seaside adventure for four at Beaufort. Sponsored by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. Learn more and enter here.