Kim Tonks Photography | Guest Post - Tips on How to Teach Your Children to Photograph Animals

Guest Post - Tips on How to Teach Your Children to Photograph Animals

July 24, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

This weeks post is by Dan Barr, founder of and is for you parents who have budding photographers in your home. Dan has some great information to share with your kids (and some tips for adult photographers as well). Enjoy!


2014/465/123 I am Ready For My Closeup2014/465/123 I am Ready For My CloseupMust be quite the lens!

We often travel with our family to bond with each other as well as connect with nature. However, once our trip is over, we resume our hectic daily life. The only way to keep the streak going where we spend time reliving the joyful moments of our trip is through photography.

Your child will love to reconnect with nature and animals frequently as children have a natural disposition to be kind and compassionate towards animals. You can teach your child how to photograph animals to help them connect with animals.

As parents, it is natural for you to be worried about your child’s safety. But with the right precautions, photographing animals is not as daunting as it seems.

Mentioned below are a few tips on how to teach your child to photograph animals.

•    Pay attention to lights

•    Avoid using flash

•    Get on the level of your subject

•    Draw your subject’s attention

•    Get your subject to cooperate

•    Avoid getting your subject to pose

•    Capturing your subject in motion

I: Pay attention to lights

Take into account a few pointers if you plan to teach your child to photograph animals outdoors. If you are outdoors during the daytime, you are most likely to have ample of bright ambient light to get good photographs. However, this may not be the case on a dull day when the sky is overcast. Explain to your child the settings on the camera in order to deal with such a situation. Also, it will not help if it is extremely sunny when you are out as just like you, the animals will feel the heat and may choose not to come out in the open. That said, natural light is the best lighting condition to capture sharp photographs of animals.

II: Avoid using flash

The light of the camera flash is bright. Small animals or birds can find the light from the flash to be alarming. This can cause them to get scared or get nervous and they will hide. If you have pets at home and your child is attempting to photograph them while indoors, your pets may perceive the flashlight as extremely harsh. You can teach your child how to counter this by either using the light fixtures that you have at home to make additional brightness. Or they can use a torchlight, pointed to the ceiling and let the indirect light fall on your pet. If your pet is light colored, using flash will cause their fur/ feathers to look washed out. Like humans, even pets photograph with a red eye. This will hamper the quality of the photograph. Another disadvantage of using flash is that it will cast an unsightly shadow around your subject. If your child is attempting to take a photograph if fish in a tank, explain to them that the glass will cause the flash to reflect and leave the end result with an unpleasing white spot. This holds true for all reflective surfaces such as a mirror, metal etc.

III: Get on the level of your subject

When photographing animals, one thing we need to factor is their height. While your child may not be as tall as an adult, they may still be taller than a lot of animals. For example rabbits, goats, cats, dogs etc. You can teach your child to get on the level of their subject. Squatting or lying down would help your child get a sharp shot. In case your child will be lying down in order to get the shot, it would be helpful if they take in a deep breath. This will help them to reduce the camera shake. Another great way to click photos of animals especially if you want to click photos of wildlife is to buy a Quadcopter for kids and have your kid click photos of the animals from above.

IV: Draw your subject’s attention

Animals have a very keen sense of hearing. They almost always look in the direction where the sound came from. To draw the attention of the animal, so they look towards you or the camera, it would be advisable to create some sound that the animal finds out of ordinary. It will also come handy to ask your child to keep the camera ready to capture the shot as soon as the animal looks in their direction, as it may soon look away. Taking burst shots would be recommended as the best photograph would be among those shots.

V: Get your subject to cooperate

This point applies to your pets only. You and your child are familiar with the nature of your pet. It is easier for your child to keep them engaged with a toy or a treat and get your pet to cooperate. When your child is taking a photograph of your pet cat or pet dog, they can use free iPhone apps such as Dog Squeaky Toy and Human To Cat Translator. Having said this, no matter how much you try, there will be times when your pet will refuse to cooperate. You need to explain to your child the importance of letting pets be. It is important that your child learns to respect the mood and space of your pet and patience is the only key.

VI: Avoid getting your subject to pose

Advice your child, to photograph the animal while it is doing what it generally does. When your child takes photographs of the animal discreetly, they will capture the best candid shots. If your child is trying to capture some expressive shots of your pet, then advise them to wait for the best timing – before or after your pet’s nap or when they are lazing after eating. Some of the most dramatic shots can be captured with the focus of the eyes of the animal.

VII: Capturing your subject in motion

Oftentimes your child will find it challenging to capture an animal in motion. There may be instances when is bird has spread its beautifully colored wings and is in flight, or a horse running in speed, or a dog in the middle of its jump to catch the Frisbee. The trick to capturing these priceless moments is to increase the shutter speed. Teach your child to set the camera in continuous focus mode in order to capture the animal in motion.


As challenging and creative it is to photograph animals, you must always emphasize the importance of safety. Safety for both – your child and the animal. Teach your child to click pictures from a safe distance. If they are clicking pictures of animals at a zoo, they must not get too close to the enclosure. Also, they must not behave in a way that scares the animals or causes them to become anxious or nervous.


About the Author:
Dan Barr is a photographer, a parent to two girls, and the founder of, a blog which is all about teaching photography to kids and kids cameras. You can visit Dan at his website



No comments posted.