Photo journeys

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This lesson can be used on its own or as an intro to the following photography lessons. The lesson has students photograph and construct a storyboard of an organism's journey. It focuses on the connection to place, how people view and perceive things in a different ways as well as the importance of choosing carefully what you are taking a photo of.


Formative Assessment

  • Students are able to construct a storyboard for an organism of their own choice
  • Students are able to write a story about another student's set of photos and compare their story to that of the photographer's
  • Share ideas about what it means to have different perspectives

Age group: 4th - 12th grade

Venue/s: Outdoor spots for students to choose their frame location, tech lab


  • Camera
  • Journal/pencil

Set up: Instructor should be familiar with the functions of the camera and camera handling before lesson


The Lesson Plan:


Human Camera

  1. Break the kids up into pairs. One person will act as the ‘photographer’ and th other the ‘camera’.
  2. The camera closes his/her eyes and the photographer leads them by the shoulders to a spot they find interesting, then poses the camera as they see the shot. (Make sure to go over safety for this activity and remind students to respect one another.)
  3. Once the image composition is in place, the camera opens eyes and takes a picture in his/her memory.
  4. Allow the photographer to compose several photos and then switch roles.
  5. At the end of the activity have each student describe their favorite picture that they composed and took. Have students compare viewpoints with their ‘photographer’ when they were the ‘camera’. Discuss the ideas of perspective, point of view, and angle of the shot and how these things can change the appearance of the “story” of the photo.



Basic digital camera use

This part of the lesson will either be an introduction to the use of the digital cameras or a review if you have already used them in previous lessons. This section may vary depending on the type of cameras you are using. The most important part of introducing the camera is to show proper modeling. It is possible that students have dealt with cameras, but maybe not in the same way you hope them to use them in the activity.

1. Discuss respecting the camera with students. Explain that the neck strap should always be around someone’s neck. Do not stress how expensive the camera is… this will only make the student nervous.
2. Explain how to hand the camera from one student to another with both hands and have a volunteer come up and demonstrate.
3. Explain where the basic functions on the camera are that students will definitely need. You can get into more detailed explanations of features depending on the camera, the activity, and the age of the students.
4. Also introduce transferring files and saving photos on the computer at this point. You will probably have to review this again later.
5. Explain how the viewfinder works and that we shouldn’t use it to define our photos. Make sure to look at the big picture first before defining the photo with the viewfinder. At this point you can give students paper frames to act as viewfinders and have students walk around the room, changing how far away they hold the frame to see how that changes the “photo”.
6. Have students get into partners and practice turning on and off the camera and taking a few photos.


Photo Journey

  1. Students will choose an organism whose story they will be telling. Allow students to be creative choosing everything from an animal to a seed pod. You may want to localize to an organism that would be in the area you are using.
  2. Have students journal about how they will show the perspective of that organism ans what that organism might see in its journey.
  3. Have students go out and take a series of photos that depict that organism’s journey. Explain to students that they may want to take multiple photos of the same shot, just in case one doesn’t turn out as well.
  4. Have students upload photos to the computer and use photo editing software to choose favorite photos and create a sequential storyboard for their organism’s journey.


Formative Assessment and Conclusion:

  1. Display student storyboards throughout the room.
  2. Choose or assign students to a storyboard other than their own.
  3. Have students write a story about the photo journey they are observing. Have students compare their written story to that of the photographer’s perspective.
  4. Discuss how different people can see different stories and points of view from the same exposure to a photo or place. What does this mean? Why does this happen?
  5. Discuss how these organisms have different visual perspectives in their journey… does this happen to humans as well?


Safety Considerations: 

-       Camera Safety and Respect

-       Set clear boundaries for outdoor venues, pointing out specific areas that students should not go into.


Background information: 


Different angles can produce some special pictures.

There is no law that says all pictures have to be taken from eye level and straight on. By taking a picture from a different angle, you can produce a totally new feeling, mood or effect.

The worm's eye view can be pretty interesting. By lying down on your stomach, you can get flowers in the foreground to frame your subject. If you are taking pictures of small children or pets, getting the camera down on their level can improve results. You can also avoid cluttered or ugly background by changing your point of view.

Climbing up on things and looking down from a high point of view offers lots of different opportunities. With people looking up at the camera, you will see just their faces without having to pose their bodies or lining them up. From above, you can also use grass or flowers as a background.

Speaking of lineups, rather than having your subjects lined up all the time, position them in a relaxed or informal manner. Have them turn their shoulders slightly so they do not appear so stiff. Use something like a rock or fence for a prop to position them around.

Remember: There is no law that says all pictures have to be taken from eye level and straight on.



Additional Information: