Beginning Digital Photography for the Classroom
What you will need for Digital Photography
You will need at least one digital camera. Encourage students to bring their own camera from home. Depending on the age of your students, you might need adult assistance. An assistant can help the students on a one-on-one basis, if needed.
If you have easy access to a computer, a USB cord is necessary to show the students their digital photos. For printing, a color printer and photo print paper can be used. Use cheaper card stock paper for proofs and black ink for black and white photography.
A photo editing program like Photoshop, or even a standard program like i-Photo, can be used to digitally enhance and crop photos. A few computer stations can be set up with the photo editing software, or the instructor can opt to do the work on their own station with each student.
Before you begin
Talk to the students about the history of photography. Depending on the age and ability level of the students, this digital photography introduction can take anywhere from five to twenty minutes. Bring in samples of age-appropriate photography, such as Ansel Adams or Dorothea Lange.
Discuss composition and framing with the students. Other photography aspects to consider include different types of angles, focus, photography shots (medium shot, wide angle, macro, etc.), choosing a subject, shadows, lighting, color, filters, contrast, and perspective.
Demonstrate how to use the digital camera. Have different students try the digital camera before you begin. Keep the camera settings simple at first, then add features like white balance or changes in camera shutter speed.
Digital Photography 101
Limit the subject matter for the students. I usually do not allow shots of other students to avoid a mass of “cheese!” photos of the students. Instead, I encourage the students to see aesthetic beauty in the simple things around them.
Have the students explore the surrounding environment for good photography shots. For example, soap bubbles on a metal sink, an outdoor park, everyday objects with interesting lighting, and animals can all make easy photography subjects. If you have more than one day to work on digital photography, try to take advantage of different natural light situations by taking photos at different times of the day.
Let the students see their photos on a computer or in print. Explain cropping to them. An easy way to do this is to have several pre-cut cards with squares cut out of them. Use these cards placed over the printed photos to identify ways to make the photos more convincing by eliminating extraneous details that detract from the photography subject.
If you have access to a photo editing program like Photoshop, you can help the students crop their photos digitally and apply digital photography effects.
Experiment with black and white photography, human subjects, lens flare, different photo effects, contrast, and photographing tiny subjects like insects. For younger students, have a box of costumes and props ready and encourage them to photograph portraits of each other.
Digital Photography Album
Once the students have taken several photos, you can begin making a photography album online or a physical photo album. An easy photography journal can be made using cardboard decorated with various fabrics and held together with wire. You can even help the students make their own digital photo album DVD using computer software or post the photos online on an online photography site like Photobucket.