Teenagers posing for a selfie (Dreamstime)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 29 January

Say no to selfies: 5 tips that will make your teenagers a better travel photographer

With the rise of social media, more teenagers are taking more holiday photos and posting them online. Teach your kid to lose the duckface and make their Instagram feed more compelling.

1: Think first, then shoot

Posing for a selfie has become almost a reflex action for teenagers today. They know their best angle and can snap into it in a split second. As long as it get the ‘likes’, they’re happy.

The first thing you need to do – and arguably, the most difficult – is to get them to think before they shoot.

Come up with a mini checklist your teenager can go through before they click. What am I shooting? Do I need to be in it? Could I shoot from a different angle? Where’s the sun? These simple questions will not only insure their photos are better, but different as well, banishing spectre of the same sort of photo, shot from exactly the same, albeit flattering, angle, over and over again.

2: Check the background

Part of that checklist should be checking the background. In their hurry to take a photo and get it on their feed, teenagers often make the rookie mistake of not spotting clutter, distraction or the embarrassment of a rogue parent or sibling in the background of their photos until it’s too late.

By teaching your kid to quickly scan the background and foreground of their intended image, and changing their framing if there’s too many distractions, their images will be more focussed and compelling and free of any unexpected objects growing out of their heads. They might also spot any mortifying signs or unwanted photo-bombers that would make their photos go viral, for all the wrong images.

3: Mix it up

Getting the balance right between photographing people, things and places is the key to your teenager creating images that will capture people’s attention. Their friends will soon tire of seeing photos of them posing in front of famous monuments. And snaps of what they had for breakfast, lunch and dinner will soon lose their appeal.

Every traveller knows that it is all kinds of things that make a trip memorable – the sights, the locals, the food, even the people you’re travelling with. Encourage your teenager to look for things that reflect their journey. Things that freak them out, make them laugh and tickle their imagination. It could be a window display on Champs-Élysées. It could be a Freak Shake in New York. Or it could be something that completely surprises you.

4: Find a point of interest

Once your teenager is mixing up the kind of subject matter they are taking photos of, they need to start thinking about what the focal point, the subject, of their intended photos is. Interesting photographs have interesting things in them. Once they’ve decided on their point of interest, they’ve got to make sure that’s what people notice.

Composition is key, of course. And teaching your kid the Rule of Thirds is time well spent. Show them how to break an image down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, the four points where they intersect, and how placing a subject at these points offers the most satisfying results.

It will soon come naturally. And like all rules, it is a rule made to be broken. But even if it just helps your kid realise they need a focal point, it’s worth it.

5: Give plenty of positive encouragement

Want to know the one thing that is guaranteed to improve your teenager's photography? Sitting down at the computer and going through their shots with them.

OK, you’ve got to remember you’re dealing with a teenager here. So plenty of positive reinforcement is the key. Praise the great shots and point out what they’ve done well first, and keep the criticism to gentle tips on what to do better. You’ll inspire them to keep going with their new hobby. And who knows, they may even let you follow them on Instagram.