More kids these days know more about the filters on Instagram than how to compose a good photograph. The Art of Photography camp for ages 9 and older is designed to expand the their minds and skill sets.
The weeklong camp took place at Northeastern State University this week and is one of the College of Education and Robotics Academy of Critical Engagement Summer Youth Academies. The class is led by Kd Scruggs, a professional photographer. She also teaches photography to adults and is an NSU art education student.
Eight children were enrolled in the camp, and some brought their own single-lens reflex cameras, while a couple were able to borrow them from NSU or shared with a buddy.
To start the week, the campers learned about famous photographers and the history of photography. Scruggs said with all the activities, they are using many different school subjects.
"They learned a little geography when they learned about the different photographers. They are writing in their journals. We talked about jobs that use photography, and the basic composition of all art," said Scruggs.
Along with all the education, the kids are meeting new people and spending time at the university, which Scruggs thinks is important.
"It's really good for them to come to the college. They get exposure to campus and get to run around and be comfortable. When they are older, they will know this is something they can do," she said.
One of the first projects the students undertook was to make prints of flowers and leaves on light-sensitive paper.
"They turned out pretty good, but we had to leave them overnight because it got cloudy," said Scruggs.
They also took pictures on the first day before they were taught anything and will compare them to fresh ones at the end of the week.
On Tuesday, the campers were learning more about how a camera uses light.
"I want them to learn the manual settings. I don't want them to use auto," said Scruggs.
One project was to take photos of the same subject and change only the ISO settings, which helps control the amount of light going into the camera.
The students kept track of the various settings and results in a journal they had personalized.
Parker Duckett, a 10-year-old from Springfield, Missouri, is staying in Tahlequah part of this summer to attend some NSU camps.
"It's really cool. They are really good teachers. They're friendly and have really good techniques. The camps are well-managed," said Parker.
Like Parker, many of the campers had taken photos on cell phones before, but they had not used a digital SLR camera.
"Understanding the settings is kind of difficult," said 10-year-old Ethan Justice, who attends Fort Gibson Public Schools.
Throughout the week, students would be taking portrait and still life photos using a lighting setup and backdrop. They will also trace a photo that is projected and paint it with watercolors.
Perspective is another topic to be covered, and some of the campers messed around with that on the NSU lawn. Students would be in the grass while one was closer to the front of the camera. The photographer would line up the shot so it looked like the front person was picking up or squashing those in the grass.
"I could see myself doing this for years," said Jaden Lowe, 12. "It's really fun. You learn a lot, and the teachers respect us."
Emily Hayes, 12, also had praise for the Youth Academies' instructors.
"They're really nice and let you be yourself. They let you live your passion," said Emily. "They make sure you know everything and have what you need."
The budding photographers will also learn how to edit photos using PicMonkey, a free web service.
At the end of camp, each student will have a collage of photos printed out, and their best shots will be shared with their guardians via the free Seesaw phone app.
"With Seesaw, the parents can look at the photos, but it's secure so not everyone can see them," said Scruggs.
Check it out
Upcoming camps for the 9-and0over group are: Space - NASA, which will be focused on the 50th anniversary of NASA, the 60th anniversary of the moon landing, and activities associated and sponsored with NASA; Advanced Minecraft, which will allow kids to practice gaming skills, and make a stop-motion video; and Ready Player One, which will have escape rooms and feature 1980s games and videos. To learn more, visit nsuok.edu/ce.