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The Influence of James Nachtwey on the Field of Photojournalism

Sarah Platanitis
Holyoke High School
Holyoke, Massachusetts

Generative Topics: Photojournalism

Generative Objectives:

To discuss basic photojournalism elements.

To understand how James Nachtwey’s work has impacted the field of photojournalism.

To encourage student photo essays.

Activities:

  • Activity 1
    • Research James Nachtwey’s life and career
    • Complete biographical worksheet
  • Activity 2
    • Groups will look at photo essays by James Nachtwey about Afghanistan, AIDS, Deeds of War, Romania, Bosnia, South Africa, Famines, Kosovo, Industrial Pollution, Crime and Punishment, Pakistan, Heroin, Rwanda, India, Chechnya, Israel, Indonesia, or 9-11-01
    • Groups will pick three photographs, learn the essential information behind them, and present them to the class. (Worksheet two)
  • Activity 3
    • Discuss the elements of photojournalism. See resources.
    • Students will go into their community and take enough photographs (30 images minimum) to create a photo essay in the style of James Nachtwey.
    • Students will pick ten of their best photos and create paragraphs with the essential information about the images. (Worksheet 3)

Assessment: 

Student assessment will combine the grades for James Nachtwey biography worksheet, participation in the group’s Nachtwey photo essay presentation, and individual work on their student photo essay.

Resources :

Activities:

Activity #1 

James Nachtwey’s Biography Worksheet
1. When and where was Nachtwey born?
2. Where did Nachtwey attend college and what did he study?
3. What inspired Nachtwey to become a photographer?
4. When did Nachtwey start photographing?
5. What are the three topics of Nachtwey’s photographs?
6. Name five of Nachtwey’s photojournalistic assignments?
7. Nachtwey has worked for which photographic organizations during his career?
8. Where has Nachtwey held solo exhibitions?
9. Which awards has Nachtwey received more than once?
10. How many books has Nachtwey published?

 

Activity #2

The Story Behind the Photo

  1. Groups will look at photo essays by James Nachtwey about Afghanistan, AIDS, Deeds of War, Romania, Bosnia, South Africa, Famines, Kosovo, Industrial Pollution, Crime and Punishment, Pakistan, Heroin, Rwanda, India, Chechnya, Israel, Indonesia, or 9-11-01. Start looking here: http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/ Continue looking on the internet and in the library. If you are stuck, consider the photographic organizations, exhibitions, and awards that Nachtwey has received during his career.
  2. Each group will present on a different photo essay. We will do this by picking photo essay topics out of a hat. Each group will choose three photographs, learn the essential information behind them, and present them to the class.
  3. Remember to answer the question to the 5 W’s, include one quote about the photo essay from Nachtwey, and properly document sources used for the presentation.
  4. Grading Rubics:
    a. Three photos from a Nachtwey photo essay.
    b. Answers to the 5 W’s for each of the three photos.
    c. Quote from Nachtwey about that particular photo essay.
    d. Proper documentation for sources used.

 

Activity #3

Student Photo Essay Assignment – We will look at the following websites in class. Keep this paper to consult out of class.

Directions for Student Photo Essay: Nachtwey photographs war, conflict, and critical social issues. As students, we cannot readily go to the front lines but we can explore our communities for the critical social issues. Think about your community and what you would like to document from it. Go forth and shoot!

  • Take enough photographs (30 images minimum). Keep in mind what you have learned from class and the websites that we have reviewed about photojournalistic style.
  • Pick your ten best photos and decide how to best create paragraphs with the essential information (the 5 W’s) about the images.
  • Write an introduction about yourself as a photographer and explain why you chose the theme for your photo essay.
  • Prepare your presentation for the class. Think of what you are going to say. Plan to explain your photos and field questions.
  • Dress as if you were presenting to a photographic organization for a potential job. You must use technology to make your photo essay.
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