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Education Home Search Lesson Plans All Curricula Beginning Language through Art: An ESL Enrichment Curriculum Lesson Plans Looking at Photography Lesson 1: The Elements of Photography
Looking at Photography Lesson 1: The Elements of Photography

Grades/Level: Adult Learners
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts, ESL
Time Required: Single Class Lesson

Author: Getty Museum Education Staff

For the Classroom
Curriculum Home
Lesson Plans
Still Life Overview and Vocabulary
Decorative Arts Overview and Vocabulary
Photography Overview and Vocabulary

Lesson Overview

Students learn about and discuss the process of taking a photograph.

Learning Objectives

• Students will learn the basic elements of photography.
• Students will analyze what they see in photographs.
• Students will use new vocabulary.

Materials

• Image of Self-Portrait with Newsboy by Lewis Wickes Hine
• Image of The Austrian Embassy, 57, rue de Varenne by Eugène Atget
• Looking at Photography Student Worksheet 8
• Looking at Photography Student Worksheet 9
• Newspapers and magazines for collages (optional)
• Sheets of cardboard or heavy paper (optional)

Lesson Steps

• Explain to students that this lesson will look at the basic elements a photographer keeps in mind when making a photograph.

• Display Self-Portrait with Newsboy.

• Ask students to describe what they see in the photograph.

• Tell students that question words can be used in order to analyze photographs. Introduce the vocabulary words and additional terms by relating them to the following question words:

1. Who is the subject of the photograph? Who made the photograph?
2. What is the subject of the photograph? What part of the subject is shown? (framing)
3. When did the photographer expose the light-sensitive material? (exposure) When was the photograph made? (time period)
4. Where was the camera positioned? (vantage point) Where was the photograph made? (location)
5. Why was the photograph made? (documentary or artistic reasons)
6. How was the photograph made? (technique)

• Write the vocabulary on the board.

• Display The Austrian Embassy, 57, rue de Varenne.

• Ask students to describe what they see in the photograph.

• Ask students if they can identify different forms of decorative arts in the photograph.

• Ask students to analyze the photograph, using the question words and vocabulary words.

STUDENT WORKSHEETS
• For a discussion-oriented activity, use the Student Worksheet 8. Distribute the worksheet to students. Have them analyze Self-Portrait with Newsboy in terms of its subject, vantage point, framing, moment of exposure, and lighting. Discuss which of these elements students are concerned with when they are planning to make a photograph (take a picture).

• For reinforcement of the vocabulary and concepts, use Student Worksheet 9a. Distribute the worksheet to students and have them fill in the blanks with the correct vocabulary words.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES
• Have students cut out photographs from newspapers, magazines, etc., and discuss the subject, vantage point, framing, moment of exposure, and lighting of the pictures.

• Distribute sheets of cardboard or paper to students and ask them to cut a rectangular space in each sheet. Using the sheets as a viewfinder, have students experiment with framing different subjects from different vantage points under different lighting conditions.

Self-Portrait / Hine
Self-Portrait with Newsboy, Lewis Wickes Hine, 1908

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