Using Photography to Enhance a Story

Linda Allor 
Capitol High School
Baton Rouge, La.

Title: Using photography to enhance a story.

Louisiana’s Standards and Benchmarks Utilized: ELA7-H2, CA 4VA- H1 Benchmark 2.3 and 6

Generative Topic:

  • What makes a good/usable photo?
  • Cropping for better effects
  • Finding the story in the photos
  • Identify disturbance, proximity, sense of place and vantage point
  • Take pictures demonstrating the four elements

Overview and Rationale:

The students will read the text and study examples of good usable photography for newspapers. They will learn how to crop photos for maximum effect, and to better tell the story. They will tell a sports story by choosing the best and fewer photos that have the most impact. Their work will be a demonstration of what they have learned from the lesson.

Goals for Understanding:

  • Essential Questions:
    • How can we make our photos better?
    • What makes a good photo?
  • Critical Engagement Questions:
    • What makes a good or bad photo?
    • Does the photo tell the story?
    • Does the photo enhance the story?
    • Can you identify the four elements covered in class?

Performance of Understanding, Rationale and Timeline:

The students will spend approximately three weeks studying, observing, photographing, clipping, cropping, and justifying their work in assignment.

Activity 1:

  • The class is divided into groups of three to four students that must come to a unanimous decision.
  • The teacher will show the class several different photos from magazines, newspapers, snap shots etc.
  • The students will separate them into two categories, GOOD or BAD according to their opinion.
  • The students will support their decisions by giving an oral justification for the chosen photos

Activity 2:

  • The students must show examples of the four elements the will improve photography.
  • They must find examples of disturbance, proximity, sense of place, and vantage point.
  • They must use a photo as an example of one that tells a story.

Activity 3:

  • The teacher will divide the students into pairs and give them a camera to take pictures.
  • Students will take four pictures, one as an example of each element (disturbance, proximity, sense of place and vantage point).
  • The students will have approx. 30 minutes to complete the assignment


  • The students will be evaluated on their participation in class and their ability to include the four elements discussed in class. They will be expected to give an oral explanation as to how each photo is an example of each element.
  • The points given are subjective but should carry weight and importance.
  • The best photos taken will be published and displayed on the class bulletin board.

Recommended Resources:

  • The Advocate, a local daily newspaper
  • Harrower, Tim. “The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook.” New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
  • Johnson, Ron. “The Prairie Journalist’s Companion: Fundamental Tips & Trends” Kansas: Kansas State University Student Publications Inc., 1999.
  • Miscellaneous magazines collected from the library recycling bin.