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"White on White" Photography

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Keywords: digital photography, Art elements
Subject(s): Photography
Grades 9 through 12
School: Max S Hayes Vocational High, Cleveland, OH
Planned By: MaryBeth Matthews
Original Author: MaryBeth Matthews, Cleveland
In preparation for this lesson, the teacher will prepare a digital slide show of white on white photographs. Examples are easily gathered by using a keyword search ("white on white") on photo sharing websites such as Flickr, Picasa, PhotoBucket, or stock photo sites.
Include photographs that emphasize the applicable elements of art. (line, shape, texture, value).
Ask students to identify the art elements and design principals they can recognize in these photographs.
Discuss how these elements contribute to the success of the composition. Look at the importance shadows play in the composition.

Using a large sheet of white paper as a back drop, students will then create their own compositions using only white objects. For the first set of photos, give each student several sheets of white copy paper to photograph.
The problem to solve is: How does one make an interesting photograph of white paper on background of white paper? How can the artist manipulate the light and materials? (Folding, tearing, rolling, cutting, crumpling)

Next, let students choose other white objects to photograph. Have them rearrange objects in each shot to experiment with various compositions. Examples: Textured fabrics, lace, pearls/beads, dishes, eggs, etc.

Students will take a series of photos, and edit their work using photo-editing software. After editing, each student will self-curate their work, and submit their three favorite photos. A written artist statement explaining their procedure and rationale completes the project.

The class will share their selections via projected slide show, and participate in class discussion/critique.
Follow-up exercises could incorporate transparent (glass) objects on white backdrop, and or black objets on a black background.
Links: Link to Flickr
Link to Picasa
Materials: Memory Cards, Art Tools, Portable, Digital SLR