Students spent part of one class investigating how to create photos inspired by the theme of "Things We Fear". This exercise was a short, group project intended to serve as a inspiration/ development stage activity to help students work through ideas for self-directed work with the theme.
We started this mini lesson by looking at Hoffine's work to identify important element of images that include an element of fear: the unknown, dramatic angles and heightened contrast were all on our list. I asked groups to create an image to share in 30 minutes, and required that they used a prop and edited the images.
Some groups easily created effective images with no help from me. Other groups needed more support. The most effective part of this experience for students came when I conferenced with groups that had images that needed editing. I was able to ask them questions that helped guide them to better communicating the theme.
"Do you need so much of the wall above the figure?"
"I notice you're smiling in the image - does that communicate what you'd like it to?"
"I wonder how adding more contrast would impact the mood?"
I loved how students were easily able to edit photos and see how much these changes impacted the image. Composition is something that students often struggle with and this activity made the impact of compositional changes very tangible in a way that sketching ideas for a drawing or painting can't. Next year, instead of a mini lesson, this will be a multi day experience, with groups having a few days to create props and stage scenes to create a series of images that tell a story. I think it will be a perfect bridge between learning about media and processed in Explorations and the more open ended, self- directed work I'm asking for in addressing themes.
I'm interested in creating a student student centered space for my high school students through choice and abundant opportunity for self expression. I'm also a writer for SchoolArts co-author of The Open Art Room.