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Intro to Photography for Middle School

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Keywords: Photography, Art, Photo Essay, Biography, Composition
Subject(s): Art, Social Skills, Technology, Autism, Special Needs, Photography, English/Language Arts, Geometry, Journalism, Foreign Language
Grades 6 through 8
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
View Full Text of Standards
School: Cedar Ridge Middle School, Sandy, OR
Planned By: Carrie Scaife
Original Author: Carrie Scaife, Sandy
As mentioned above this is not one lesson plan but an entire elective. The intention of the program is to introduce an art curriculum in a building that has lacked art for a decade.

Possible Lessons:

Plan 1: What is photography?
This is a discussion of what makes something art, what types of jobs someone who does photography can do, and why people engage in photography.

Objective: SWBAT explain and understand the history of photography and its place in the timeline of art.

Plan 2: Intro to the camera
Aperture, Lens, Light, f-stop, Depth of Field, Focus, Flash, etc.
What do all of these terms mean? What do they look like? How do settings affect the picture. Each student will work to achieve a greater understanding.
Assignment: Take the same picture with different aperture settings, different depth of field, different focuses, etc.

Objective: SWBAT operate all settings on a digital camera and understand why they are necessary.

Plan 3: Composing a Shot
Focusing on the entire fram, the rule of thirds, focus, distance, angle
What do all of these terms mean? What do they look like? How does shot composition affect the overall appearance of the photo. Each student will work to achieve a greater understanding.
Assignment: Take the same picture employing the rules above

Objective: SWBAT demonstrate understanding of common photographic techniques.

Plan 4: A portrait
Portraits are different than other photos. They come from the tradition of painting. We will study painting and composition and then practice.
Assignment: Students will work in groups of four to take 3 different portraits

Objective: SWBAT compose a portrait and demonstrate knowledge of portrait taking rules by taking an appropriate photo.

Plan 5: A Landscape
Landscapes come fromt he tradition of landscape painting. We will study the timeline of landscapes and what makes them unique.
Assignment: Students will work with partners to take several landscape photos

Objective: SWBAT compose a landscape shot and demonstrate knowledge of landscape rules by taking an appropriate photo.

Plan 6: An Abstract
Again through paintings and examples, students will study abstract art and what the term "abstract" means.
Assignment: Students will take several abstract shots and will create a photo essay that tells a story through only abstract photos.

Objective: SWBAT demonstrate an understanding of the term "abstract" by defining it through photographs.

Plan 7: Photo Essay
Assignment: Students will create a layout, based on instruction in journalism and photojournalism that is geometrically realistic. They will tell their own narrative biography through photographs. This requires storytelling, math, and quality photography. This is the culminating (test) for the elective.

Objective: SWBAT demonstrate understanding of all terms discussed throughout the term by applying them to a final project that tells a story and follows photojournalist formatting.

Plan 8: Group Fumetti Comic
After the final project students will want to work on something less stressful. They will work in groups to create a Fumetti style comic book. Fumetti comics were created by Marvel. They are comics with photographs instead of drawings.

Objective: SWBAT work with a group to tell a creative story through photographs.
All we need to implement this new elective is cameras. You cannot teach students photography unless each student has their own camera in hand.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Obviously, the cameras could be used in all subject areas - to tell a story in language arts, to illustrate history in social studies, to study shapes and geometry in math, to document a process in science, etc. All of these are potential assignments in photography class.
Creating a display to share the photos with the school and community can open other students up to the possibility of their own artistic talents. The cameras, once purchased, will be available for students to take photography class for years to come.
Materials: Digital Cameras, Flash/USB Drives