Photojournalism and Creating a Layout

Fairlle LaForge
Worley Middle School
Mansfield, Texas

This project will give students an idea of how a photographer prepares and shoots a photo story. Students will also learn how to use Pagemaker and lay out a story for the newspaper.

The purpose of this project is teaching students the powerful effect photography can have. The hope is that this project will interest them enough to want to take their time with it, and find an interesting subject. Students will need time to set up interview/interviews based on an event or unusual occurrence that would make a good photo story. The second part of the project teaches students how to fix their pictures in Photoshop and lay out their pictures in Pagemaker. Students will present the final product as a front-page introduction of story and the continuation or jump into the paper. Students should be required to write captions and a story. Since this is mainly a photo story, the written part of the story does not have to be long.

Goals and questions to be answered and discussed:

  • Goals
    • To teach students the importance of pictures
    • To give students practice with interviewing
    • To develop an eye for what makes a good photograph
    • Students should improve Pagemaker and Photoshop skills
    • To give students experience with how newspaper photographers work
  • Questions
    • Why are photographs an important part of the newspaper?
    • Can photographs be stronger than the written word?
    • What makes a good photo story?
    • How many photos should be in a story?
    • What needs to be included in your news story?


  • Introduce project by showing students sample pictures from the best of photojournalism put out by NPPA (National Press Photography Association) every year.
  • Go through how a paper is laid out and show slides of the award winning papers from the SND (Society of News Design).
  • It will also be important for students to know how to write a feature story and the difference between a news story and a feature.
  • This will take several class days to cover the material step-by step, but the more specific you are the more likely the students will turn in well developed projects.
  • Ideas for the classroom:
    • Take sample photos and practice writing captions
    • Show some sample photo stories from the local newspaper
    • Give sample stories and have students’ layout a front page
    • When you show the slides discuss with students what they like
    • Give students the terminology for newspaper layout

Sample rubric:

  • 10% Notes
  • 10% Classroom work
  • 10% Homework
  • 20% Research
  • 25% Photos
  • 25% Final product
  • Total = 100%


Since this is an involved project students should display their work for other classmates to see and critique (it is up to you whether you want to use work from a different period to make the grading more fair and unbiased). Students can even have a form to fill out and give input on other students work. This can even be figured into the students’ grade, but make sure you explain to them that their grade should be fair with comments included. You can even have students draw numbers so they do not know whom it is that they are grading. Another idea is have teachers grade and judge if students are competing for a spot in the student newspaper.

Possible modifications

  • Gifted and talented:
    • Add taped interviews to further explain photos
    • Include research about cultural difference
    • Advanced presentation of material
  • Special education:
    • Reduce the number of photos
    • Allow more time for completion of project
    • Allow for verbal explanation vs. written

Recommended readings and sources:



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