I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “these are strange times we are living in”. And it is. Currently, as I write this, we are all in quarantine to help stop the spread of the Corona Virus. I keep thinking about people at home with little kids, trying to keep them engaged through all this!  Here’s my list of Photography Play at Home to do with your kids or for the kid in each of us. Enjoy!

Photography Play at Home


1. Photo Scavenger Hunt

I loved seeing what my kids saw through the lens when they were little. The stuff that they took photos of gave me a whole new perspective! Here’s a fun way to get them using a camera and capturing what they see! Print out this PDF or come up with your own!

Photo scavenger hunt

2. Black and White

Black and white photography has a weight to it and a feeling of timelessness. It can turn the ordinary into art. Black and white photography simplifies what you’re seeing into shape, shadow and highlights allowing you to organize your image’s composition without the distraction of color

Typically, I shoot in color and then turn a photo to black and white if I don’t think color is helping the photo or if there’s some texture or pattern black and white would enhance. However, intentionally turning your camera or phone camera to shoot in black and white can open your eyes up to new possibilities.

To shoot in black and white on your DSLR camera; go to menu and the “Picture Style” or “Picture Control” and select “monochrome”. When I want to see what it’d look like in black and white before I shoot, I turn on the camera in “Live mode” and look at the LCD screen on the back.

For your smart phones, each phone is different so I can’t speak to every model on how to shoot in black and white. Look into your phone menu for how to shoot in black and white. On my iPhoneX, when I open up my camera, at the top right hand corner is three overlapping circles. If I touch those, it opens a menu that allows me to shoot with various filters including a few black and white filters.

2. Create an alphabet

My girls loved this photography play at home activity! Gather or make letters out of things in your house. It could be a car tire for ‘O’, the handle of a mug for ‘D’, the ends of books in a bookshelf that look like an ‘H’…you get the idea! This is so great for young elementary kids learning the alphabet!

Here’s some that I took this week around my house –

When you have the whole alphabet, you can make custom cards or signs with your photography!

4. Frozen Action

This is where, in my opinion, the DSLR cameras have a leg up on most smart phones. I did a blog post about how to get frozen action with your DSLR camera that goes into more detail (and to keep this email short and sweet!), check out the blog post here.

With phones, for the most part, you’re not going to get that crisp frozen action. It’s worth playing with anyway! There are some apps (CameraPlus) that will allow you to shoot at faster shutter speeds and some of the android cameras have the ability to adjust your shutter speed built in. Your best bet to get frozen action with your phone is to make sure you have lots of light and use the Burst Mode to gather multiple images.

Here’s some shots that I took on my DSLR –

and then on my phone –

5. Color Collection

The inspiration for this assignment is inspired by a book I have called “Paris in Color” by Nichole Robertson. It’s a beautiful treat of a book to look through and pretend you’re in Paris eating bread and cheese by the Seine…sigh. For more inspiration, her Instagram is also really stunning – @nicholerobertson

Here’s the assignment; pick a color and then go around collecting photos of that color. Once you’re finished collecting, arrange them in a collage.

6. Macro Photography

Macro photography allows you to focus in closely and usually adds a bit of telephoto as well. It is best when you have a macro lens. I have a 100mm macro that I love for detail shots.

(that fern frond is about the size of a match head)

Another, less expensive, way to shoot macro is with macro filters that screw to the end of your camera. Make sure you’re buying the correct size for your lens. Check on the inside of your lens cap for this. 52mm or 58mm are common diameters for kits lenses. I’ve not tried these so I can’t speak about the quality of them but, if you’re just messing about, I’m guessing they’d do just fine! At the very least, it’s a small investment to help you investigate if you want to buy a macro lens.

You can also buy clip on macro lenses for your phone that clip on over your lens. This kit has a bundle of lenses. They aren’t something I use seriously because they distort the image but I do have a set and they are fun to play with.

Without purchasing a lens or filters, you can shoot macro by just turning your lens around, hold it over the lens opening and shoot through it backwards. This blew my mind! It really works! You can’t Auto Focus. You just have to move back and forth until what you want in focus is in focus through your lens. It’s a little tricky because you have to hold the lens and shoot. Also, be careful because you are exposing the pins on the lens that you don’t want to damage.

Here’s a shot I took by turning my lens around –

Not the most amazing photo but I was just trying to see if it worked. I’ll definitely be playing more with this another time!

7. Smoke Ribbons

Smoke ribbons provides some challenges because can be hard to control your focus since smoke is not a solid object and it isn’t something that will turn out exactly as you plan…which makes it a great one for Photography PLAY at home. You might need a partner to help with this one so could be a good “team work” assignment for you and your kids.

You can also use your Smart Phone by either using “Burst” by holding your finger on the shutter button or use “Live” on iPhones to allow you to look at the frames before and after. (Here’s a video to show you how to do this on iPhones)

(I’m sorry that I don’t have an Android version video. I know that there’s something similar for Andriod but it’s not the same on each phone).

8. Light Painting

Once again, I’ve done a whole blog post that tells you how to set up your DSLR or mirrorless camera for blurred action. So we don’t make this blog post too long, check that out here!

I won’t leave you iPhone users out though! You can also use your iPhone for blurred action. Again, Android users, I hope you don’t feel left out. I’ve just found that there’s not just one fix like there is for the iPhone so do some research on your particular phone. If you are able to adjust the shutter speed on your camera, follow the link to the blog post above for how to set up light painting on your Android cameras.

Here’s a Light Painting shot I took of my daughter with my iPhone –

My husband was behind her circling her head with the face of his iPhone shining toward the camera. My daughter held her phone facing her to light up her face. I love the motion and the light circling her. It almost looks painted!

Here’s how you do this with your iPhone –

Put your camera on Live mode. Stabilizing your camera is not a bad idea but I didn’t. Take the shot and then, when you’re viewing it, swipe up. You get some “effects” that you can use on your Live image. At the very end is Long Exposure.

I hope these Photography Play at Home ideas help you and/or your kids learn more about your cameras and have FUN playing together

Now get out there and shoot!