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Little Bear Teaches Photography


Last week I covered the Museum of Funerals, so this week I’m covering a photography idea for kids (and the young at heart). Life needs balance. 

A few years ago I was doing a 365 photography project (one photo every day for a year) on Tumblr. The weather was questionable and I wanted to do some macro work for the project, but my brain was tired. A few days earlier I had found a family of tiny bears for about 50 cents at a sale and hadn’t found a place for them in the house yet. I thought, “this bear looks like he could use some tea.” So, I set the little bears up with the tiny tea set from my grandmother. Voila! I had a fun image to share for the day.

Little Bear
Little Bear’s tea party was so much fun to make, he became a recurring theme throughout the 365 project. His antics were also popular on my feed, although some people asked, “what’s with all the bear pics?” Other people started making suggestions for what Little Bear could do next. He got around.

Little Bear

Little Bear

Tableaux became more elaborate. Stories would happen over the course of a week’s images. Other collections and fandoms got thrown into the mix. Some figures were borrowed from a friend’s collection to complete scenes and stories. The caption here is: “Hand over Little Bear, or I’ll light this place up and take you down with me.”

Little Bear

My 365 stretched into stop animation, and Little Bear got a starring role.

Learning Tool

Taking small toys and using them to learn/teach photography would make a fun project for anyone and takes little equipment. Most of these images were taken with a phone or small camera, about 8 megapixels before crop. There were no props other than the toys themselves, though we did use a black blanket as a backdrop. I sometimes used a second phone as a fill light, or an iPad as a lightbox. All photos were processed using free or inexpensive apps, including the stop motion video. Old Photo Pro, Instagram, Stop Motion Studio, SoftBox, Aviary, Snapseed, and Camera+ were all tried with good result.

The idea is to make creativity and the learner the stars of the show. The temptation is to up the scale and get the big camera out, but stick with little tools. Focus on telling a story and having fun. If you end up making something you can frame, that’s just a bonus.

Bear images for purchase. They make great small prints for a kid’s room.