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Photography Unit Overview


The main point of this unit is to recognize that photography is an important form of communication. 

Students practice moving between the visual and written medium

Students learn to recognize and convey content (rather than merely the subject) in images when given the appropriate vocabulary and methods. 

Students practice skills involved in visual criticism using appropriate terms related to visual elements, principles, and composition of design

Students engage in the process of analyzing and exploring visual images and their relation to societal development.


The history of every person, every community, and every culture has something unique to offer. Whether it is values, customs, perceptions, or experiences - there is a world of difference from just one person to the next. Yet this gap becomes smaller when we exchange our stories and history through visual documentation such as photographs.

Photography is about connecting to remembering, creating, and telling life stories and experiences. It provides a means to recall and reconsider local memory, to renew and revisit our connection to place. Out of visual documentation grow identity, connection, and pride. These characteristics form the basis of community life.

Photographs can alter how we see the world and our role in it. They provide a means of viewing society in transition from development to war and peace. Serving as a vehicle to explore different points of view, and engage students in discussion. Photographs reflect the history of the "average person" as well as the famous, their lives, their struggles, and aspirations. It is the history not of textbooks, but of real life.


  • Capturing the stories of the community

  • Preserving information that currently isn't available

  • Focusing and revealing under-represented viewpoints

  • Representing multiple perspectives

  • Provoking critical discussion

  • Providing realism to the study of history

  • Fostering an agent of social change

  • Creating better understanding among different parts of the community

  • Clarifying common goals for the future

  • Providing a medium of aesthetic expression

  • Creating a tool for scientific or historical research

  • Providing a repository for personal experience and memory. 

Learning Objectives:

Students recognize and use the visual arts as a form of communication:

  • Students analyze and interpret the intended meanings, visual images, and themes of different photos

  • Students analyze what and how photographs can express and communicate something

  • Students experiment with visual images to communicate personal and intended meanings

  • Students analyze photographs to infer information about their subjects and discuss the function of photography and other art forms as a mode of expression for both artists and their subjects

  • Students explore how photographs can be interpreted as conveying rich stories to the beholder

Students know and apply principles of design, and sensory and expressive features of visual arts:

  • Students look at the principles of design in photographs and how that reflects and creates an intended meaning

  • Students evaluate sensory and expressive features in photographs

Students relate the visual arts to various historical and cultural traditions

  • Students will discuss how photography is relevant to their lives and culture

  • Students will analyze and discuss how photos relate to various historical and cultural tradition 

  • Students explore the role of photojournalism in relaying news stories that involve death and destruction

Students analyze and evaluate the characteristics, merits, and meanings of photographs

  • Students will interpret and discuss the meaning of different photographs according to its merits

  • Students will explore how photographic images can be used to convey the intentions of the photographer

  • Students will explore how photography can be used as a tool to depict social issues in order to provoke action on the part of the viewers of the art

  • Students will examine the notion of printing highly graphic photographs related to news events, as well as evaluate photographs and their accompanying stories to determine the purpose and relevance of using such pictures to relay the news

  • Students will explore the power of photographs to influence public opinion and emotions


Photography Unit Overview

Photography Lesson Plans

Reference Source for Lessons

Canadian Photography Websites

American Photography Websites

Related Photography Resources

Photographic Activities

References For Activities

Background information

Download Photography Unit Overview in Word Document format.







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