WIN THE WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR PORTFOLIO
Want your kids to really see something? To be really present when you're next outdoors? Hand them a camera. The great Dorothea Lange once said, "A camera teaches you to see without a camera." I discovered just how true this was on the weekend. Inspired by the 50th Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition that is about to kick off at the Natural History Museum in London, we headed out with a bonafide camera. Not an iphone, not a blackberry - no a camera - with a zoom, a neck-strap, a lens-cap and everything. The aim: to have a crack at wildlife photography. As there are no zebras, leopards or polar bears in our neck of the woods, we had to make do with vibrant leaves, domesticated dogs and stray feathers. But it didn't matter one bit.
It was like I'd handed the kids eyes they didn't know they had. It made them look up, it made them look down. It made them stop and listen. It made them wait. It made them be patient. And guess what? It even made them quiet for little bits of time. Yup, QUIET. But more than anything, it made them persevere.
After our outing I asked:
"Hey (I always start sentences with hey) what skills do you reckon you need to do to be a good wildlife photographer?"
"You have to be careful," said Minu, "That when you take a picture the leopard doesn't bite you." Excellent advice given that the closest you'll get to a leopard in London is my daughter in her spotted pyjamas. But it's probably a good shout if you're heading to the Maasai Mara. (To see Bobby and Minu's "award-winning" pictures, ahem, scroll down).
WIN WIN WIN
enter our wildlife competition:
What skills do you need to become a great wildlife photographer?
Carlos: You have to love nature and to know about animal behaviour. The more you know the better you will become at guessing where to find them and what to expect. You also need to be patient, and nowadays very creative, to take an original shot.
What qualities do you think children have that make them great wildlife photographers?
Carlos: They see photography as a game and they are not pressured or influenced like adults. They can let their imagination fly.
TO ENTER THE COMPETITION:
Email us the best pic from your outing by Nov 1 (please include location, your kid's first name and age). The lucky winner will receive a copy of the stunning 2014 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio that accompanies this year's exhibition. It's a brilliant way to learn more about wildlife photography and to see crazy-beautiful imagery from around the world, shot by professionals and children as young as 10.
And for even more inspiration, head to Lasse Kurkela's website. He won the prize in the "10 and under" category last year. Amongst many other inspirational pictures, he took this lovely photograph of bear cubs playing at dusk. He's a dude too. He's got a hide-out and everything. And his lens is like 2metres long.
What you need:
- A camera (a real camera is great, but a phone camera will do just fine for beginners)
Top tip: The less you intervene in your kids' picture taking, the more interesting the outcome. They see differently to you.
Top quote: "Taking pictures is savouring life intensely, every hundredth of a second." Marc Riboud