The following Photography projects have been used for both
High School and University introductory classes. Rather than include them
in a formal lesson plan format, I've written out basic concepts and assessments,
since schools often vary greatly in the lesson plan format that they require
from teachers. All lessons should be accompanied by example images, including
professional, fine art, and student works. See the student work page to get
an idea of results.
The most important thing in any Photography class is to
make sure the basic skills of camera operation, exposure, control, developing,
and printing are taught and learned within the first segment of the class
(ie: the first 4 weeks of a semester long class). Yet, as with any studio
class, concept can and should be taught alongside skills.
The biggest hurdle to get over in any class that approaches Photography as an Art form is to reveal how the camera is not a mere recording device, that the idea of objective reality is a construct, and that photography should be visually approached just as in any other medium, such as painting or drawing; "Get rid of extraneous details" is an oft repeated phrase in my classes.... if it is in the frame, than it informs the image, whether intended or not. This should be reinforced in critiques.
Getting comfortable with a camera is, of course,
something for students to accomplish almost immediately. Some instructors
like to start a course with students making a pinhole camera. I prefer the
real thing right up front, with the workings of the lens, the aperture, and
the shutter conveyed as they are holding the machine in their hands as soon
as possible- learning these concepts abstractly from a handout or by looking
at a PowerPoint demo is not enough- make sure you're demonstrating with a
camera in your hands, and cameras in theirs. All technical knowledge should
be conveyed in as many ways possible: handouts, verbal, hands-on, visual...
Take at least 2 classes to cover the camera workings before they start shooting their first Project. This should also include how to load film and film speed. Before handing out unexposed film for them to shoot, make sure that they can demonstrate to you loading the camera with a length of scrap film. The most common error for a beginning student is to shoot a roll and develop it only to have it turn out totally blank because it never went through the camera.