Most parents lament how much time their kids spend absorbed by their smartphones or a video game, rather than being engaged with the world in front of them. But what if those tech skills were combined with time spent in the great outdoors?
Nature photography is an ideal way to bridge the seemingly great divide between the plugged-in world of gadgets and the real world of weather, grand landscapes and living, breathing creatures. Nature photography provides kids with some invaluable health benefits, too.
For years, researchers have rolled out study after study showing how beneficial time spent in nature is for childhood development. As Richard Louv points out in his book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder,” time spent in nature helps with improved concentration, assists with the treatment of ADHD, depression and other mental illness, and improves mood, coordination and agility.
Beyond this, nature photography can give kids a sense of purpose. They learn how their images can actually educate the public and protect the places and species they learn to love.
Sound like a perfect past time? It is. Here are five ways you can encourage kids to try their hand at nature photography …
‘Meet Your Neighbours’
Get to know who is living in your backyard or neighborhood park. Meet Your Neighbours is a global initiative that connects people to the wildlife in their yards. As the project’s website states, “These creatures and plants are vital to people: they represent the first, and for some, the only contact with wild nature we have. Yet too often they are overlooked, undervalued.”
Through photography and a fresh curiosity, an appreciation is garnered for these wild things, and in that, they are given value once again. The MYN style shows the specimen against a bright white background, so that the focus is entirely on the creature.
Exploring the website is fun in and of itself, but kids can try their hand at photographing the plants and animals in their neighborhood using the MYN style. The website encourages participation, noting, “This is conservation photography at the grass roots level, asking people to care about their own natural heritage, where they live and showing them how extraordinary it is in a novel way.”