Students will analyze photographs individually or collectively.
National Core Standards
- Perceive and analyze artistic work
- Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work
- Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work
One class period
- Photographs, prints or projections
- Possibly cards, for written response
This lesson is more of a suggestion for guided discussion. Use the following questions, as needed, to delve into analysis or any photograph. These questions were developed in conjunction with the “Embracing Eatonville” exhibition, to help analyze historic photographs. They are meant to initiate critical thinking and discussion about your interpretation of the photograph as well as an understanding of the choices that each artist has made in his or her work.
Questions to ask about the photograph:
- What is the subject of this photograph? What is being depicted?
- What is familiar to you about this subject? What is unfamiliar or unusual to you? How/why?
- Did the photographer place herself (or her camera) close to or far from this subject? Why do you think she might have done this?
- How do you feel looking into this scene from such a distance/from such proximity?
- What did the photographer put into focus? What is not put in focus? Why do you think the photographer would have done this?
- If there are people in the photograph, how are they being depicted?
- Are they active? What does their body language tell you?
- How are they relating to other people?
- Do they know that they are being photographed?
- What kind of relationship might they have with the photographer, if any?
- What could their facial expression tell you about them?
- Can you figure out where or when they are from by how they are dressed? Why/why not?
- What could their environment tell you about them?
- Did the photographer choose to photograph in black and white or color? Why do you think so? Did he have this choice? What effect does using black and white (or color) have on your interpretation of the image?
- Where is the light coming from in this photograph? What does is illuminated? What is more hidden by shadow?
- How did the artist use color? What color do you notice first? Second? Does this influence how you understand the image? How so?
- How did the photographer compose this image?
- What is included in the frame? What might have been excluded?
- Where is the subject or main focus of the image? Center, off-center?
- How does she draw your attention to certain parts of the image?
- What evidence can you find that would help you figure out when or where this photograph was taken?
- What do you know about the photographer that might influence your understanding of the image?
- What do you know about the subject that might influence your understanding of the image?