Help me keep the shutterbugs happy!
November 22, 2009 5:27 PM   Subscribe

What should I include in a 3 hour photography workshop aimed at 30 12-15 year olds?

This is an activity designed to keep kids interested and busy at school for the final week of the year. The kids weren't picked because of their love of photography, but if they signed up for it we can assume they would rather do this than go bowling.

I'm planning to start off with a compostition workshop, looking at some basics and getting kids to think about what their pictures are of.

I then want them to split off in to groups to run around the school (supervised of course) taking pictures with a checklist / scavenger hunt list. The list will include things like "a photo following the rule of thirds", "a photo from a high angle/perspective", as well as some simpler things like "action", "portrait" etc...

We can round things off with a bit of a show and tell, with prizes for the shots of the day etc...

My questions:

What would you ensure was covered in the initial workshop?

What should be included on the checklist / scavenger hunt list?

Is there anything else I should add to this? (It doesn't feel like a three-hour 'shop to me yet)

Is there anything I haven't considered that will make this better?

Thanks for your help!
posted by man down under to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What kind of cameras are you using? Definitely make sure that you cover how to use the cameras as well as how to keep them safe.

In case this gets some kids interested in photography, you might want to talk about other classes they can take (in high school or whatever) or what careers they can go into.
posted by kylej at 5:51 PM on November 22, 2009

What would you ensure was covered in the initial workshop?
From family photographs and Flickr, it looks like a lot of people don't know how to set-up/frame a shot. If you're talking about perspective and angles, you probably have that covered--but make sure students feel free to be experimental with their photographs, not just documentary.

What should be included on the checklist / scavenger hunt list?
You could also include concepts or captions that can interpreted in different ways (I can only think of boring examples like "the best part of school" or "energy" or "confusion", but it's really what image you pick to go with it), then let the students vote for who found the best image for each concept/caption.
posted by ollyolly at 5:52 PM on November 22, 2009

What kind of cameras are you using?
    Some will bring in their own DSLRs others will probably be using 3MP cameraphone!
You could also include concepts or captions that can interpreted in different ways
    Great idea - Titles can be a good addition to their photos...thanks.

posted by man down under at 6:01 PM on November 22, 2009

Ask the kids to pair up or or form small groups and critique each other's photos. How well did they meet the stated goals? What could they have done to improve their photos?

Ask the kids to design a photography exhibit of their best X number of photos, based on a theme, and write captions or design a brochure describing their exhibit. This would be good as a summative assessment, and would make an effective authentic project if the brochures actually got printed in color/BW at Kinkos or the local equivalent.

If you have access to computer, teach the kids a few basic digital touching-up techniques.
posted by msittig at 6:02 PM on November 22, 2009

I'd make sure you talk a little bit about the color of light, assuming you're working with digital cameras in a school with florescent lighting in most places. A lot of great highschool photography is ruined by that sickly green fluorescent cast; you could provide some ways to counteract the color (bouncing natural light off of reflective surfaces) and ways to embrace it and use it to convey meaning. It would be important to have examples for this, and show kids how, for example, a desk lamp with a sheet of colored tissue over it can totally change the look of an object. A lot of the fun I had when first playing with digital involved casting things with crazy colored light, it's easy and flexible and does no lasting damage to the subject.

The idea of splitting up the time and sending kids off to burn some energy in the middle of the class is a great one, but I'd also schedule in about 15 minutes when you first give them the cameras for them to fidget and poke around with them, in the classroom. Take some awful Myspace photos, figure out how to turn off the flash on their own, all that. Then sit them down and explain how to use them. Otherwise you're going to get a bunch of kids who were just handed new toys, told that they have to sit still and listen to a lecture. Most teenagers know how to handle gadgets without breaking them for at least the first 15 minutes.
posted by Mizu at 6:06 PM on November 22, 2009

> Ask the kids to pair up or or form small groups and critique each other's photos.

Sorry to follow up on my own post. For this, a format like The Last Word might work. In this format, the photographer pick a few photos to show and all other participants in their review group must make at least one comment. Then the photographer makes the final comment, and everybody is very strict about having her word being the very last (no more comments from anybody else!). Then move on to the next photographer.
posted by msittig at 6:06 PM on November 22, 2009

Oh blast. I didn't preview. If they're bringing their own cameras, why don't you give them a little time to show them to classmates with different ones? I love the iPhone camera, personally. To me it's like the new polaroid. It has personality! Anyway it could be a bit of a getting-to-know-you plus show and tell in the beginning of the class.
posted by Mizu at 6:09 PM on November 22, 2009

What would you ensure was covered in the initial workshop?

How about a bit on how to hold the camera?

I know my nerdy 12-15-year-old self would’ve gotten a kick out of knowing pro photographers hold their cameras like this.
posted by Garak at 6:32 PM on November 22, 2009

12-15 year olds get DSLRs? Whoa!

Composition, lighting, working with a flash and knowing when a flash doesn't work. Show them how to make the background look larger in a portrait by zooming first then stepping back to fit the subject in. I'd end it with DSLR, and wouldn't allow anyone to use one.
posted by furtive at 6:36 PM on November 22, 2009

I'd make sure you talk a little bit about the color of light

Oooh, definitely talk about this, and talk about how different skin tones look in different kinds of light. (And maybe throw in a brief aside about choosing the right color shirt to complement your skin for pictures?) Maybe even mention how color made from light is different than color made from ink, and that's why your digital pictures look different when you print them?

And this is really more of a personal pet peeve, and I don't know if it's necessary in a photography workshop, but please, won't someone somewhere teach kids that pictures taken of yourself holding the camera at arm's length must be framed just so, so that you don't end up looking like you have the world's largest nostrils?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:17 PM on November 22, 2009

Sorry - another thought about the scavenger hunt - you could have them do some of the standard yearbook / photojournalism kinds of pictures. Maybe that would get someone interested in volunteering for the yearbook or school newspaper?

Another scavenger hunt idea is take a picture of something that best sums up "2009" for you or your school or community.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:21 PM on November 22, 2009

I think a really cool thing, an obvious thing, but something no one probably does, is look at some really great, cool photographs by great photographers. So kids know there is something beyond flickr and facebook, that photography is a longstanding art form.
posted by sully75 at 8:03 PM on November 22, 2009

Depending on how pressed you are for time, the kids could benefit by looking through certain flickr groups. Thinking to how I got interested in photography initially, it might be helpful to ask the kids, before they go out into the school, to find 3-4 photographs each that exemplify a "style" of photography they associate with and would like to try and execute.

I think this is helpful because they will choose photos that they feel "look good", whereas you as a professional can help explain the technical similarities between the pictures ("all three of these are based on the rule of thirds with the subject on the right", or, "all three of these have very stark contrast, be on the lookout for lighting like this").

Helping them understand what their goals are, in terms of style is important. It is also important to make clear how those goals are expressive of their individual choices and personalities. Every garage band in america can tell you what bands they want to sound like, how many of these kids can tell you photographers or photographs they want to take pictures like?
posted by ejfox at 9:20 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

The rule of thirds!

Nothing did more to improve my composition than the realization that it looks better when the subject isn't in the middle of the frame.
posted by Netzapper at 12:21 AM on November 23, 2009

Remind them that a modern camera is a paperweight without good batteries.

Prior to the workshop emphasize the need for them to have their camera batteries fully charged.
posted by imjustsaying at 1:00 AM on November 23, 2009

White balance
Composition (rule of thirds, clean backgrounds, balance a frame, straight horizon)

And they will LOVE learning how to do perspective tricks, like this, or this or this or this.
posted by twistofrhyme at 1:01 AM on November 23, 2009

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