An Instant Summer Reading Project? - Family Photographer Kitchener-Waterloo


I feel the need…the need to read!

Hands up if you get the Top Gun reference! My favourite maverick (see what I did there?), my daughter, is heading for Grade 2 in the fall, and she worked so hard on her reading and writing skills in Grade 1 that I wanted to come up with something to help us avoid the dreaded “summer slide,” where kids slip in academic ability over the break from school. She loves to be read to, but doesn’t yet love reading out loud herself. She loves to make up stories, but prefers to draw rather than write. So I knew I’d have to be creative to come up with something that would capture her attention and not feel too much like work!

The Solution: A Fuji Instax Camera?


Enter the Fuji Instax camera. Remember Polaroid cameras? These work the same way: take a picture, film comes out, film develops in about 90 seconds. And they’ve got a white strip across the bottom of the film that’s perfect for a caption…which got my mental wheels turning. It wasn’t long before I realized I could merge my daughter’s interest in taking pictures like Mommy with her fascination with Sharpies (a must-have for writing on Instax photos) and come up with a summer literacy project that will keep her doing a little bit of reading and writing, and creatively documenting memories of what summer means to her.

The Project


She’s taken pictures (or handed me the camera to take pictures of her) in and around our home, on a visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, at the park, out for ice cream, and in other places and events that feel important to her. The only trick is remembering to bring the camera along! Then she sits down beside me and captions a few at a time, and tucks them into an album that’s just the right size. Then we look over all the photos she’s taken so far, and she’s quite happy with her book of summer memories!

The Results…So Far

At the halfway point through the summer, I’d say it’s going really well. She definitely loves taking photos, and has been pretty happy to come up with the captions. There’s been a little complaining about the writing, but as long as she doesn’t have too many to catch up on at once, it has stayed fun. I’ve been encouraging her to use the captions to tell a bit of the story of the photo, but sometimes she just wants to label who’s in it and what they’re doing, which is fine too.


One interesting discovery has happened, since we haven’t used this kind of camera before: instant film is really cool. I honestly can’t quite explain its magic. Kids and adults crowd around to watch a picture of themselves develop in a way that is, well...unexpected, considering that we all see cell phone pictures of ourselves all the time! But there’s something about a picture developing right before your eyes that’s mesmerizing. It’s also really cool to crowd around and enjoy capturing moments together.


There’s also something special in this age of shooting a million digital photos about being really intentional with your one film exposure. (Admittedly, Instax film adds up in cost, so we’re on a strict no-reshooting policy!) I think it’s a good thing to stop for a minute, think about what you want to photograph, frame it up as best you can, and then click the shutter and let the photo be what it will be. It’s a good thing to understand that you’re going to take one photo of this moment, and then put the camera away and be present in the moment, enjoying what you’re doing and making the memories you’ll have when you look back on the photo. Encouraging my daughter to focus on these aspects of this project has helped me to be more present in the moment too, which I’m really enjoying.

Summer Family Memories

This might seem strange, considering it’s my job (and my pleasure!) to make your images as artistically “perfect” as I can, but I’m finding something kind of magical in embracing the inevitable imperfection of not quite capturing the right expression, of a camera that always fires a flash no matter the lighting, of a film that purposely doesn’t try to recreate the sharpness and detail of a professional photo print, and certainly, of handing over creative control to a 6-year-old. The photos coming out of this camera are giving me a serious case of summer nostalgia, and reminding me to give my kids the kind of carefree, fresh air, long summer days of adventure that we all long to recapture from our childhood. So I think this project is good for both of us!

So much nostalgia, I just had to shoot a roll of film! Nothing says nostalgia like this look, eh?

So much nostalgia, I just had to shoot a roll of film! Nothing says nostalgia like this look, eh?

Have you tried an instant camera lately? Were you happy with the results? What do you think of my idea to keep my daughter reading and writing in an engaging way? Be sure to let me know in the comments, or over on Facebook!