SchoolJournalism.org

Introduction to Photography

Linda Evanchyk
Choctawhatchee High School
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Objective: All students on journalism staffs should have a minimum level of expertise with a camera.

Preparation:

  • Have a professional photographer (if the adviser is not one) come to the class and give pointers on photography, including showing his or her work. Usually, a local news publication or magazine photographer is more than willing to do this. Explain to the photographer the students’ assignment and the type of camera they will be using.
  • Have students use cell phones or purchase disposable cameras for all members of the staff. (Discount stores carry these for as little as $5 per camera. The manager may even let you get them for less if you purchase in quantity.)
  • Prepare a list of photos required of each photographer:
    • A child who appears to be 6 or younger
    • A person who appears to be 60 or older
    • A group of at least four people
    • A nature shot
    • A shot taken outdoors at night
    • A head shot of a single individual
    • A sports action or practice shot
    • A photo taken in a classroom setting
    • A school spirit shot (pep rally, assembly, etc.)
    • A shot in a public place other than the school (a mall, a park, etc.)
    • A miscellaneous photo (optional)

Activity
Students have two weeks to take the photos in the above 10 categories. They may take the remaining exposure on subjects/situations they wish to enter in the miscellaneous category.

On deadline day, students turn in their work.

Set of a “lab” day. Distribute the developed prints to each student, along with sheets of paper with the category names on them and a file folder. Students choose one photo for each category. They may submit up to three photos for the miscellaneous category.

All category sheets are submitted in the folder. Students can be evaluated on the completeness of their folder.

The contest
Rather than give a student a grade and move on, a contest is a great opportunity for students to take pride in their work and perhaps truly become interested in photography.

  • Take 10 file folders and label each with a category of photos. Collect the category sheets from each student and place in the correct folders (the miscellaneous category is optional).
  • Ask a local photographer to choose the winner in each category. If you can’t find someone, you should consider asking a former staff photographer who has graduated. An art teacher or a teacher on your staff who is known for photography skills could also serve as a judge.
  • Have the judge choose a first, second and third place in each category. If you wish, have the judge write comments on the photos to make it a learning lesson for the students.
  • When you have received entries back from the judge, purchase first-, second- and third-place ribbons at a local school supply or trophy store. Choose a day for a “ceremony” where students receive the ribbons. Make a display of the top photos and have the students share information about the photo.
  • Optional: The photos could also be displayed in a public area of the school such as in the media center or cafeteria.
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