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The Original Photograph

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Keywords: Photography, Art
Subject(s): Art
Grade 8
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
View Full Text of Standards
School: Gorham Middle School, Gorham, ME
Planned By: Amy Cousins
Original Author: Amy Cousins, Gorham
The project I have been working on is called, “The Original Photograph.” Students learn about the history of photography and famous photographers who made major artistic contributions to the fine arts.
The students learn about four photography techniques; Point of View, Lighting, Framing and Depth of Field. They also learn about various manual camera functions. They spend time exploring our school and observing their surroundings. The goal is to create a photographic image that focuses on the originality of their subject matter, to take an ordinary subject and make it “extraordinary.” Each student must employ at least one of the techniques they learned during the lesson introduction.
After the students have finished shooting, they return to the classroom and download their images onto their laptops. From there I teach them how to use the iPhoto editing tools. They learn how to crop, alter color saturation and adjust temperature, contrast, exposure and brightness.
In my fourteen years of teaching this is one of the most successful lessons I have ever taught! I would estimate that this project engages 95% of my students. Students love the freedom to explore and look at their surroundings in a different way. Their chief complaint is that the project doesn’t last long enough and they want to do more! After this lesson, my students have a solid understanding of the technology used and how it relates to art and various career opportunities.

Impact of Technology Integration:
The impact of hands on technology has been enormous in my classroom! As a teacher it is so hard to come up with a lesson that entices and engages all students all the time. One might create projects that most students enjoy and learn from, but to have the numbers of students who actively participate in this project is wonderful! I have 5 cameras and class sizes of approximately 24 to 28 students. I created a rotating list each day so every student has an opportunity to use a camera for at least one full class period (50 minutes). After I introduce the core lesson, I have students vying to go first! Students who have been procrastinating on their current project become instantly motivated to complete what they are working on in order to move on to the photography lesson. I have even had students with attendance issues show up on the day they’re going to use the camera. The comments that I hear every single class period are “How come we can’t do more photography?” “This project went by too fast.” “This is so cool!” and my favorite “This is the best thing I have ever done!” At the end of the quarter I ask students what project they liked the most. Hands down the Photography lesson comes out on top every time.

Project Rational:
The students would desperately like to do more photography projects and right now the program is in danger of being reduced or eliminated due to budgetary restrictions. The biggest obstacle I have is not possessing enough cameras to go around and there is no immediate funding for replacing old cameras or adding to my small bank.
By having more cameras, I can shorten the amount of time students have to complete the assignment, hence increasing the amount of photographic lessons and techniques learned. I believe by teaching a skill such as photography students eyes are opened to a variety of career related paths in the Arts and Technology world.

Materials: Digital SLR, Camera Bags
Other Items: 10 Canon PowerShot SX150 IS, $250.00 each, total of $2500.00
10 Camers Bags, $20.00 each, total of $200.00
10 Memory Cards, $30.00 each, total of $300.00