A photography club is a great way to bring together children who share a love of capturing the world around them in images. Novice photographers of elementary and middle school ages will benefit from activities that help them learn and execute the basic skills of the practice, such as shape, lines, point of interest, lighting and contrast. Children can practice these skills while still focusing on their area of photographic interest, be it nature, portraits or architecture.
Point of Interest
Have children spend one, or several, photography club meetings focusing on establishing a point of interest in their photographs. Point of interest is one of the most basic, and most important, principles of photographic composition. It is the principal topic or idea of the photograph that draws the eyes of the viewers. Children can experiment with establishing points of interest using subject matter that is of interest to them and different compositional rules such as simplicity and subject placement. People make a very good point of interest in photographs. At the end of the club meeting, have students share or describe their most effective photographs with one another.
Shape, Lines and Contrast
The impact of shape, lines and contrast in photography is fun and engaging for children to explore. Shape is two-dimensional and an identifying feature for the viewer of a photograph, while lines can unify photographic composition and direct the eyes of the viewers to the point of interest. Contrast can represent shape quite powerfully, such as a dark, shadowed shape against a white background. If the children are of an appropriate age, consider putting together a handout that explains the basics of these compositional tactics and allowing them to pick and choose which they would like to render. For those who would like to experiment with contrast, provide studio lights and both black and white backdrops.
Lighting is another fun element of photography for children to explore. Dedicate a photography club session to learning about and exploring lighting tactics such as backlighting, front lighting and the use of existing light. This can be done either in the studio with photography lights or, if the weather is nice, outside by utilising the position of the sun. Have children attempt to incorporate the other compositional elements they have learnt about in photography club by perhaps capturing the contrast created by the sun's shadows or the lines of large buildings and roads outdoors.
A great group activity for photography club members is choosing a selection of prints to put on display. If the school or institution that hosts the photography club is holding any special events in the near future, consider finding out whether the children can hang or display photographs for the attendees to enjoy. Students can work together to pick and choose their favourite photographs that have been taken in previous club sessions and mount them in creative ways, such as wall hangings or on coloured poster board. Consider grouping photographs focusing on certain compositional elements together under appropriate headings.