Teaching 14 Year Olds about Photography

This morning I arrived at my church to teach the Photography merit badge to a bunch of 14 year old scouts. We talked about the various parts of a camera, composition techniques (rule of thirds, framing, leading lines) as well terms such as shutter speed, exposure. aperture, and ISO.

Because the class is an elective, most kids that attended wanted to be there. I printed out pictures showing how different camera settings and angles can make a difference when composing a shot. They asked good questions and many kids had experiences to share with the group making for an interesting class.


I had about 45-50 scouts in my class. When I asked how many had taken a picture with a digital camera, every hand went up. When I asked how many had used a film camera, only 3 hands went up. We discussed the pros and cons of using both formats, but it was clear most of these boy will never see or use a film camera. When we talked about the differences between point and shoot and digital SLR models one boy raised his hand and asked, “Why do I need one of those when I have a camera phone?” He wasn’t alone.

It’s exciting to think of how technology is shaping the lives of these kids. I thought about the kinds of cameras my children will be introduced to when they are only a few years older. Most kids these days are first introduced to photography through their phone. Most kids these days, have seen so many top stock photos from acclaimed professionals, that they have digested more photo art in their short lifetimes than true veterans of the past. That would have been hard to imagine just 10 years ago.

I suspect new technologies will become second nature to our children much the same way Nintendo and camera phones are seen by today’s teens. We still laugh about the time my daughter, who was 5 years old at the time, expressed amazement when she noticed her Grandma watching TV commercials. Incredulously, she asked, “Grandma, you can’t Tivo?”

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