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Angela Wong
Visual & Media Arts Educator

Photography Curriculum

Hi Everyone!

Next school year (2017-2018) my high school will begin offering digital photography. We already have students signed up for 3 sections of the class and I have been tasked with teaching one of them in the spring of 2018. I actually don't know a thing about photography (I think since I teach Photoshop they felt I was a good fit for the over flow class!), but fortunately the other two women teaching the class know more than I do. We'll be using a couple professional development days this summer to develop and write the curriculum and I wanted to do some research into what works well in the classroom and what doesn't.

I'm looking for other folks on this education exchange who currently teach photography and would be willing to share resources/ideas/lessons that I could bring to my colleagues this summer. I welcome any help!

Thank you!

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Randy Walc

Posted on Aug 26, 2017 7:02:27 PM Permalink

If you're just staring out and don't have many resources or students will be bringing their own cameras from iPhones to DSLRs I would start by emphasizing Composition techniques. This can be done with any camera. Rule of Thirds, Framing, Perspective or unique angles (shooting up high, shooting down low), simplifying background, have a point of focus, leading lines and so on. I usually ask for at least 5 samples of each technique. You could space it out however time allows.

I usually get them to create a powerpoint or keynote presentation for each assignment. Handed in or it could be presented to the class. I use a rubric to guide assessment which helps set criteria and hopefully offset some of the sensitive nature of critiquing creative pursuits.

I would also recommend a sheet with "self reflection" for each assignment. What went well, What could be improved, what I would do differently next time/if I could do it again. Also perhaps include a recording of what their settings were (this can be found in most photo management software) ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture. They don't have to know these before they shoot but it will show them that even in full automatic and on a Phone, those settings still exist. Get them familiar with a basic understanding of how they affect exposure even if they aren't using a DSLR. You can get deeper as your comfort level grows.

You had indicated a familiarity with Photoshop so of course could cover the "digital darkroom" aspects of using photoshop creatively and practically.

I also do a section on printing (inkjet) and mounting on foam board. ​

Stacy Wieringa

Posted on Aug 2, 2017 4:29:30 PM Permalink

​There's a whole 20 lesson curriculum through Aperture based in New York City. I've used bits and pieces in my classroom. It's all about using the camera as a tool to see differently. http://aperture.org/on-sight/ It might give you some good ideas to incorporate into your class.

Mel Wolverson

Posted on Jul 10, 2017 5:15:23 PM Permalink

​Adobelive.com is having live Photography lessons starting Tuesday July 11. They'll have video streaming all day, and there is a replay for those who miss. Kelbytv.com has a bunch of tutorials by Scott Kelby and his Photoshop User TV guys. I've learned quite a bit from them. Terry White has a bunch of tutorials.

Here's an infographic with all the basics: https://www.zippi.co.uk/thestudio/manual-photograp...

I did a video talking about image size and why it matters: http://bit.ly/2uJcXCO (warning: I say the word "right" far too often)

Hope this helps.


Renee' Smith

Posted on Jun 21, 2017 4:01:39 AM Permalink

Your ​students can use the Adobe Photoshop Mix app to do creative photography. Students use their phones to take photos and edit them in the app. You can also have them collaborate.

Julia McNulty

Posted on Jun 20, 2017 1:42:20 PM Permalink

​Angela, I am doing the opposite of what you are doing. Two summers ago, I created my curriculum for a one semester high school photography class, and now I am working on creating a curriculum for a one semester high school graphic design class. So far your Current Event Collage lesson plan has been a huge help to me! I agree with Terrence. The Facebook groups, High School Photography Educators and High School Photography Teachers, are awesome resources. Do you know of any similar groups for graphic design teachers? I also looked at the textbook and teacher resources for the Davis Publications book called Focus on Photography. They just updated it recently, and I can't wait to see it.

I start my course with some photo history and then how to use the camera. Then I move to the Elements and Principles which you probably already teach. I used Google Classroom to post the info for each project. If you would like me to send you my list of projects, camera contract or any other documents that might help, just email me. I would be glad to chat with you as well.

Angela Wong

Posted on Jun 21, 2017 2:02:38 PM Permalink

Julia, I am so happy the Current Event Collage has been helpful! I'm happy to share anything with you! I don't know of any similar groups on Facebook for design teachers, I never thought to look for one to be honest! I can't wait to check out the photography teacher group. I have mostly used a lot of books as reference while setting up my graphic design class and I'm always changing things up a bit. My class is only a semester long so I try to fit some PS, AI and ID into the one semester, which is a challenge, but I manage to give the students a good overview of all and they do some projects where they can feel a good sense of accomplishment. I am happy to share my Google Classroom with you. ​

I would love to chat about this. We have a teacher from another local high school who teaches photos going over some stuff with my colleagues and I today. We have Nikon D3400 cameras for our classes. My email is awong@natickps.org. I would love to chat!

Travisray Salyers

Posted on Oct 17, 2017 1:32:54 AM Permalink

Julia, I am looking for resources as well. Could you send to me as well? My email is tsalyers@usd434.us

Thank you

Terrence Banks

Posted on Jun 3, 2017 1:12:21 AM Permalink

One great resource is this facebook group. High School Photography Educators if you send me your email I can add you!

Angela Wong

Posted on Jun 6, 2017 6:45:48 PM Permalink

Thanks! wongsenseiart​@gmail.com