Summer is here, and your camera is likely as busy as you are. Vacations and family reunions, beach days and hikes, picnics and sunsets – there is always a reason to snap a photo this time of year. If your kids are like mine, they will reach for the camera or phone and ask to take their own shots. For parents of budding photographers, here are nine biographies, how-to guides, and informational books to inspire all summer long. Smile!
by Cindy Jenson-Elliot, Illustrated by Christy Hale
“Ansel was antsy.” So begins the book about a boy who hated being indoors, and who grew up to be a renowned nature photographer. As a child, Ansel didn’t fit in with the rigid expectations of school, so his father decided Ansel would learn at home. During a trip to Yosemite Valley, Ansel’s parents gave him a camera and his passion was born. He loved taking photos of the American landscape and his photography was sought after by the government and Life magazine. The book discusses Ansel’s life and legacy and shows examples of his photos. Illustrations of dim indoor scenes contrast against spreads of the lively natural landscapes Ansel was drawn to.
by Chris Oxlade
From the “Tales of Invention” series, this book is for kids who are dying to know how things work – in this case, the camera. This informative book discusses life before cameras, the first photographs ever taken, how cameras have changed over time, and the impact of cameras on our lives today. Timelines, sidebars, diagrams, photos, and illustrations placed throughout the text beg for a closer look. A glossary at the back defines several camera-related terms and a list of resources is provided for those who want to dig further.
by Barb Rosenstock, Illustrated by Gérard DuBois
Dorothea noticed things other people didn’t, observing the world with her heart as well as her eyes. Family issues and the lasting effects of polio made Dorothea a lonely child. She avoided school by wandering the streets observing people. As an adult, her photos of people suffering the Great Depression forced the country to take notice and inspired the government to help people in need. Several of Dorothea’s photos are included in the back matter along with an author’s note and timeline. Muted yet striking acrylic illustrations take us into Dorothea’s world of wonder and compassion.
by Alice Proujansky, Illustrated by Maggie Prendergast
This book is chock full of fun activities for young photographers. Each of the 25 activities is presented with a brief description, checklist of items needed, instructions, and tips. Kids can go on a scavenger hunt, explore with a camera obscura, turn a photograph into a mask, have a selfie fest, go on a treasure hunt, design an action flipbook, make postcards, and lots more. There is even a neat little tip on making a smartphone stand out of cardboard and binder clips. Technical advice is woven throughout the activities but the focus is on exploring and creating.
by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Jamey Christoph
Gordon Parks experienced racism and hardship throughout his youth. When a magazine article inspired him to buy a used camera, his life changed forever. Gordon moved to Washington, D.C. where he decided to document segregation and the struggles of black families with his camera. Back matter provides more details about the events in the book and contains some of Gordon’s photographs. The illustrations pull the reader into Gordon’s world in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, and also portray several of his photographs.
by Amy Novesky, Illustrated by Lisa Congdon
When Imogen decided she wanted to be a photographer, her father built her a darkroom in their woodshed. After university, she opened a portrait studio, got married, and had three sons. She wanted to continue photography but had too many responsibilities at home. So Imogen built a darkroom and turned the garden into her workshop while the boys played. She photographed her children, animals, and flowers, including magnolia blossoms, her most well-known photographs. The author’s note contains a photograph of Imogen with her sons and more information about her life. Imogen’s story is portrayed in lyrical language and bold and textured illustrations.
National Geographic Kids Guide to Photography: Tips and Tricks on How to Be a Great Photographer from the Pros and Your Pals at My Shot
by Nancy Honovich and Annie Griffiths
Who better to teach children how to take awesome photos than National Geographic Kids? There’s tons to learn about in the pages of this bright, informative guide, including everything from photography equipment and techniques for getting the best shot to concepts such as point of view. This book also breaks down the nuances of photographing different Nat Geo-worthy subjects from animals to people to landscapes. Children are given several “assignments” to try. Tips, definitions, sample photographs, and fun facts are peppered through this information-heavy – but kid friendly – text.
by Anne-Laure Jacquart, Illustrated by Thomas Tessier
Photo detectives everywhere will love solving the mystery of how to take good pictures through framing and composition. Investigations, games, picture quests, and briefing papers will spur the detectives on their mission. Each successive activity builds on the previous one, so kids are advised to go through this book in order. A viewfinder at the back of the book helps kids frame different shots. The conversational tone is helped along by illustrated narrators chiming in through speech bubbles. A brief note for adults explains how to best support their children on their photo adventures.
by Joel Meyerowitz
The aim of this book is to help children look at and understand photographs, and in turn, look at and understand the world in a new way. In each of the 30 spreads presented in this book, one side contains a photograph and the other breaks down the image for young viewers, describing what is special about the shot and some of the photographer’s techniques and motives. The selected images include landscapes, people, animals, and still lifes. This book is best savored one photo at a time, over several viewings.