Photography for kids (need advice)

Noun Sequitur

My Feet Hurt
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Oct 24, 2012
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My son is in 5th grade and thinking that he might be interested in photography. I'd like for him to develop this interest and I'm looking for advice in two areas...

(1) I'm not springing for a DSLR or anything expensive at this point. I assume that there is a lot he can learn about composition, lighting, etc with a simple camera. Is this a good first step and any recommendations on equipment?

(2) It seems a big part of modern photography is image processing. Is there a particular software suite, maybe something cloud based, that might be good for testing the water without breaking the bank? I've used GIMP before and know some of the tools. But I've really only used it to cut and paste peoples heads into stuff and that sort of nonsense. I haven't really used it to actually enhance a photograph. I'm not sure if this the best way to learn what digital photography is all about?

Thanks!
 

Outdoor_Fool

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Dec 11, 2015
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Adobe Lightroom was recommended to me by a professional and I really like it, but I'm certainly not a connoisseur. It has a cloud-based option.

I bought my 6th grader a DSLR recently after she spent a couple years with a point-and-shoot. I probably should have waited another year or so to buy it for her. I did find it on sale for only a few hundred bucks and it is better than mine, so if she decides she isn't into it, I will steal it.
 

Wyatt Carson

Desert Vagabond
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Apr 15, 2015
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My son is in 5th grade and thinking that he might be interested in photography. I'd like for him to develop this interest and I'm looking for advice in two areas...

(1) I'm not springing for a DSLR or anything expensive at this point. I assume that there is a lot he can learn about composition, lighting, etc with a simple camera. Is this a good first step and any recommendations on equipment?

(2) It seems a big part of modern photography is image processing. Is there a particular software suite, maybe something cloud based, that might be good for testing the water without breaking the bank? I've used GIMP before and know some of the tools. But I've really only used it to cut and paste peoples heads into stuff and that sort of nonsense. I haven't really used it to actually enhance a photograph. I'm not sure if this the best way to learn what digital photography is all about?

Thanks!

Good for starting him on a P&S at that young age. DSLRs are good for high-schoolers. No need to get too fancy at his young age. As you say focus on Composition and Light. Those are 95% of photography anyway.

As for processing...I'd just have him shoot jpeg and learn about nailing exposure. Let the camera auto process at first and then you can get him into Gimp as that is free and will be an okay learning tool. I would not buy any software at first. The camera might come with something for free too, at times they do. Really, shooting RAW files is the only way to go if you are really interested in processing and that can wait a bit. Although you can alter jpeg a bit, it is pretty much set in stone. If he becomes a prodigy then get him some expensive software and a DSLR in a few years.
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
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May 31, 2015
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I'm no photographer, so my opinion isn't incredibly useful. However, for photo editing I use an open-source photo editor called LightZone, which is obviously supposed to be an alternative to LightRoom. I've really liked it so far. I'm cheap, so I didn't want to pay for LightRoom when I really don't even know what I'm doing as far as photography goes.
 

Nick

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For Windows, I can't really comment on cheap software, but I agree that Lightroom is a great tool if it works with the budget. Anything like it would be good to start out.

As far as camera, anything will do to start fiddling, but the ultimate would be to pickup the cheapest you can find that shoots RAW image format and get software to edit in RAW (like Lightroom). I'm sure some of the cheaper/free ones can do that. Learning Photoshop or Gimp are great, but editing and cataloging software like Lightroom is a better first step and will be used more in the long run, IMO. And the power of editing a RAW file is incredible. But just to fiddle around and start playing with it, pretty much anything would work. I remember in my HS photography class we had all sorts of photo assignments for light, texture, shape, etc. It would be good to find stuff like that for him to do to think more about what he is shooting.
 

wsp_scott

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Does your son have a cell phone? If not, do you plan on getting him one in the near future? Or do you have an older one that needs a new use?

A lot of photography (composition/light) can be learned with a modern cell phone camera. You can still edit the photos with lightroom if you want. I'm not a professional, but I have read many articles that say the best camera is the one you have with you. The best way to learn photography is to take lots of photos and then think critically afterwards about what works in the photo and what doesn't.
 

pstm13

Auribus Teneo Lupum
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Dec 27, 2012
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I picked up an entry level diving camera (Vivitar?) for my daughter so that I didn't need to worry about damaging it. I got it off eBay for $20 and it is still going strong after 5 years. I have not used GIMP for several years but it was ok. However, I wouldn't recommend it for him unless you know how to use the full version of Photoshop (not Lightroom). Lightroom would be my suggestion as it meshes with photoshop as he develops in skill and I assume it has Camera Raw (sub program of photoshop) that can edit regular jpeg images as well as other formats like RAW. In photoshop you just need to select it. Photoshop Elements may even be a better option but I'm not sure. I only teach the full version of Photoshop.
 
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Noun Sequitur

My Feet Hurt
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Oct 24, 2012
Messages
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Or do you have an older one that needs a new use?

Funny because I just realized yesterday that I have my old galaxy note II sitting around. I dusted it off and freed up some storage space and gave it to him. He's happy with it :)

Also I downloaded Lightzone (mentioned above). The UI isn't very classy but it works and seems pretty easy to figure out. Lightroom has a free trial so I'll give that a shot as well.
 

gnwatts

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May 19, 2012
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Try the Lightroom/Photoshop CC download. As @Nick said Lightroom is a simple intuitive program. I rarely use Photoshop, only when needed, which isn't often.
At $9/month it is a deal IMO.
Also, you should consider shooting in RAW, maybe shoot both RAW and JPEG together (if your camera allows it). Even if you are not using the RAW file, you can keep it for archiving.
 
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