11 Simple Tips for Kids: Nature Photography

These easy steps will get your kids outside and photographing the great outdoors

03-03-2010 // Hannah Schardt

What’s more fun than being outside, playing in nature? For many kids, it’s being outside, taking photos of nature! Kids love gadgets, and now that digital cameras have made photography easier (and cheaper), there’s no reason your children—even preschoolers—can't get started early on documenting the wild world around them. Here are some tips to get your kids outdoors and photographing nature.


Toddler with camera by Diana Diaconu


The camera: Buy—or better yet, pass on—a camera that is good enough to take decent photographs. Nothing discourages a budding photographer like poor-quality results.
  • Make sure the camera is durable enough to withstand some abuse and simple enough to be easily used by your child.


  • Keep it inexpensive—you don’t want to end up heartbroken if the new camera ends up submerged in a mud puddle.


  • Don’t seek out a “kid’s” camera. Many cameras created for and marketed to children take worse quality photos than similarly priced adult cameras.
The basics: Give your child some simple instruction in how to use the camera, but don’t expect perfection.
  • Teach how to focus—most inexpensive cameras have at least a short shutter delay, so make sure your child knows to keep her finger on the shutter button until the photo is taken.


  • Show your child a fuzzy photo and a sharp one, and explain the difference.


  • Emphasize that a sharp photograph generally requires stillness. Teach your child to keep still the hand supporting the camera while gently pressing the shutter button with the other hand.

Girl photographing nature by Lori J. Naanes

Get out there: Make a point of getting your kid—and his camera—outside often.
  • Think small. When we think of wildlife photography, we tend to think of bears, giraffes, elephants—animals that are both large and inaccessible to most of us. Point out to your budding photographer the wildlife and plant life that surrounds us all: butterflies in the backyard, worms in the garden soil, and wildflowers and trees in local parks. These all make wonderful subjects for photography.


  • Encourage your child to get close to his subjects (within reason). Not only will this make for better photos, it will also get him more engaged with the plants and animals he is photographing.


  • Turn your outings into a game.  Make a list of colors, shapes or different items found in nature, then challenge your child to find and photograph them. For a little friendly competition among siblings or friends, plan a photo scavenger hunt!


  • Make it educational. When you return home with the photos, spend some time with wildlife or flower guides (or your computer) and help your child identify the species he photographed.


  • Last, and most important, teach your child to respect and appreciate nature: Delicate wildflowers should not be trampled, even for a great photo of a butterfly. Baby birds should be left undisturbed in their nests. This will quickly become second nature to your child, and you will probably find that your aspiring photographer is also becoming a passionate naturalist.


Find more helpful hints in our wildlife and nature photography tips center!


Kids' Photo Contests

Ages 13 and under are invited to enter the Ranger Rick Photo Contest!

Ages 13+ can enter the Youth division of our annual National Wildlife Photo Contest!


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