Students will learn about how lighting and subjects work together to create the overall composition by translating the content of photographs into basic visual shapes. By cutting out basic shapes that approximate those within the image and then overlaying them and pasting them to a new piece of blank paper, students learn about subject and ground relationships, contrast, and negative space.
National Core Standards
Before Class Activity: Teachers should gather and photocopy numerous black & white photographs to be used during class. Color photographs can be changed from color to black and white by photocopying them. Using black and white images heightens the visual affect of lights, shadows, and contrast and also simplifies the visual elements in the images into their basic forms. Some possibilities are listed above (Butler and Cunningham photographs).
In-Class Activity: Students will select a photograph they like, then cut out black, white and gray paper shapes— large generalized shapes—to represent the darks and lights in the images. Students will then paste them onto a separate page. (See inserted image of man with bicycle wheel).
Discussion: You can investigate the following during discussion: figure-ground relationships; proximity; similarity of size, shape, position; continuity; closure; positive and negative space; contrast; symmetry & asymmetry; line continuation; layout; closed and open shapes; contours & lines; organic & inorganic shapes. Teachers and students can discuss how the darks and lights work together to create lines and shapes in the images. Where is the focus? How do the darks and lights interplay to focus our attention on this area? How do they create a composition? How do different shapes make you feel?