In my childcare home I have always used photos to document our activities. I have created posters and booklets covering all the steps of big projects. Sometimes the photos are part of the activity – like this one. I have used photos in slideshows for workshops, presentations and on a digital display in the front entrance. As a good bye gift I provide each child with a photo album containing pictures arranged chronologically throughout the entire time they have attended.
Some of my oldest childcare photos were taken with a camera that required film and needed to be taken in to a photo lab to be developed. I’d have to order reprints to put in family albums and scan photos if I needed a digital copy. Taking and using photos became so much easier when I got a digital camera but even then there were occasions when the camera batteries died while we were on an outing and no more pictures could be taken until we go back and replaced them.
The number of photos I took increased dramatically when I got a rechargeable digital camera. So much so that I had to create a separate folder for unsorted photos and dedicate time on weekends to go through the week’s photos and file them according to activity like ‘sensory play’, ‘gross motor’, ‘art’, ‘constructive’, etc so it was easier to find specific photos when I needed them. My ‘Daycare Photos’ directory currently has nearly 10,000 photos in 20 folders with many sub-folders too.
When I got my first smartphone I stopped bringing my digital camera on everyday outings. It seemed like it would be easier to just use the camera on my phone instead. I was wrong. Taking photos with my phone was a slow process which at first I attributed to me learning a new skill. However, many years have passed and I’ve had several different phones and I still find it to be a slow process.
At first, I don’t think I noticed the decline in the number of photos I was taking. Actually, maybe I wasn’t taking fewer pictures, but I was definitely deleting more photos than I was saving. The quality of my phone photos was so much worse than the photos my little digital camera could take quickly.
Sure, my phone cameras were capable of taking good photos but only if I was willing to spend the time adjusting settings and planning each shot. However, most of the photos I take are very spontaneous and even the time required to load the camera app would be too long so I’d be left muttering ‘It would have been nice to have a photo of that’ *sigh*
My little point and shoot camera was so much more convenient to use. I kept the wrist strap on so the camera was always handy. The camera fit easily in my hand and one finger could reach all the controls. I never needed two hands to take photos so there was no need to put down the baby or whatever else I was carrying. This was extremely important since I rarely take photos when the children ‘pose’.
Most of my photos are pictures of the children in action. Either they are moving or I am moving or both. All my phone cameras have been way too slow to take decent action photos. Even if I have the camera app loaded and I am standing still, holding the phone with two hands the moving child will usually be just a blur if I even manage to keep them in the frame.
I suppose I could record videos with my phone and then select photos from the videos but that seems like a lot of extra work for which I have no time. My little camera allowed me to take photos while the children, not the camera controls, were my main focus. Honestly, the children’s focus is an issue too – many of them are obsessed with phones and will instantly stop what they are doing if they see a phone in my hand, so my phone is rarely handy for photos.
Recently I’ve noticed that the good-bye albums I’ve given to departing children were lacking. It has been surprisingly difficult to find enough photos to put in a 50 or 100 page album – even when children had been here for several years. When I was using my old camera I used to have to be selective and only choose the best photos of our favourite activities to include in albums – no way I’d have room to include all the photos.
The last few albums have had another noticeable issue too – the vast majority of the photos are of the children sitting at the table. Doing art, playing with small table toys, working on a puzzle, or eating food. These things are only a very small portion of our activities but comprise the majority of the photos. I believe it is due to the fact that when the children are seated at the table, my phone is handy on my nearby desk. It is the only time it is convenient for me to take photos with my phone.
Yes, there are some photos of the children in the playroom and of course more of the children outdoors. Yet, one thing that really upsetting for me is that there are almost no winter photos. We play outside every day – even in the winter – but I counted less than 30 pictures of the children in the snow in the last three years! As difficult and annoying as it is for me to use my phone to take photos in optimum conditions, the issues are magnified in the winter so usually I don’t even bother trying.
Last month I was so frustrated by the lack of new photos to add to the front entrance slideshow that I dug out my old camera and charged. I’ve even taking it outside when we were playing in the snow. It still hasn’t become a habit to have it handy but I have definitely take more photos lately – and generally the photo subject quality has been better too. Though, many of the children look somewhat confused as they do not recognize that object in my hand.