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Digital Photography 1b: Creating Images with Impact!

Let’s further develop your photography skills by learning more professional tips, tricks, and techniques to elevate your images. Explore various photographic styles, themes, genres, and artistic approaches. Learn more about photojournalism and how to bring your photos to life, and using this knowledge, build a portfolio of your work to pursue a career in this field!

Review Course Outline

Units at a Glance

Unit 1: Photojournalism: Real Life in Pictures

Who takes those photos that appear in the news every day? What about those in magazines or on television and the internet? The answer is photojournalists—they’re the professionals charged with the challenging task of finding the best angle on every story they cover. Related to photojournalism, street photographers and documentary photographers also strive to tell the truth of the real world in arresting visual images. These days, anyone can be witness to a historic event by snapping a cell phone photo that may even be featured around the world. So whether you want to be a citizen photojournalist and document the happenings in your town or a jet-setting war photographer, photographing real life can make headlines near and far.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Apply the ethical rules of photojournalism
  • Create photos using the “decisive moment” idea of Cartier-Bresson
  • Connect the history of photojournalism to the Pictorialist and straight photography movements
  • Analyze the use of citizen journalists by professional news organizations

Unit 2: Context is Everything: Style and Genre

Can you tell a stock photo from a propaganda photo? How about the difference between a glamour and a celebrity photo? All these photo genres have stylistic cues that might provide some clues, but many of them inspire each other so it’s entirely possible to find elements of one genre in another entirely different genre. How about a fashion wildlife shot? Or an ethnographic product shot? Read on to find out how context, aesthetics, cultural sensitivity, and ethics come together in the wide world of photography.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Discern the difference between creative and editorial photography genres
  • Compare and contrast stylistic characteristics of different genres of photography
  • Differentiate between ethnographic photography and authentic cultural expression
  • Analyze photographs by using aesthetic, historical, and contextual cues

Unit 3: There’s an App for That

In the days before digital photography, people often spent a great deal of time printing and organizing their photographs. This process could be time consuming, potentially pricey, and often required a good amount of storage space and materials. Enter the era of digital photography—we’re going to dive into how you can be a far more efficient digital file clerk for your photos, keeping them safe, polishing them to make them perfect, and sharing them with the world. And the great part is that you don’t have to lug big boxes and risk paper cuts! Organization, of course, is a huge part of being a great photographer. Working with your digital files—which will multiply to the thousands before you know it—is what can make or break a professional career. But don’t stress! Together we’ll uncover how to best manage this beast, and when you need to find that perfect photo, you won’t have to search under every rock—you will have it all organized at your fingertips!

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Choose an appropriate workflow and image editing software
  • Describe and use three different types of photo metadata
  • Experiment with post-processing tools like white balance, tone, and color settings
  • Set up a photo gallery on a photo-sharing website that can function as a digital portfolio

Unit 4: Words and Pictures: Composing Meaning

We have delved into how to organize your photographic process technically, but what about the creative side? What is your creative process? Perhaps you would benefit from developing a sketchbook to work on ideas. Or, dive into studying the elements of visual art and the principles of design so that you have tools to talk about your work. Together, we’ll begin to find new ways to go deeper into your artwork by using your verbal skills along with your visual creativity and your technical skill. While we’re at it, we’ll also learn a bit from some famous artists who combined photography and text in their work.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Analyze the visual elements in a photograph or other work of art
  • Apply the principles of design to the creation of photographs or analysis of composition
  • Compare and contrast ways of thinking about visual perception in photography
  • Implement an open-ended creative process in photography

Unit 5: Don’t Listen to the Haters: Productive Critique

People are often all too glad to share their opinions. Everyone loves to pipe in with “I love it!” or “that stinks.” But uninformed or quick opinions are not likely to help you improve your photography skills and artistry. However, a solid critique (covering both objective and subjective points about your photos) can make you see your photos in a whole new light. Together, we’ll discover how to both critique other people’s work as well as how to request and respond to feedback we receive. Last, we’ll learn a bit about different styles of interpretation so that we can pull meaning from photos in different ways.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Define the term critique and differentiate it from criticism
  • Critique photos and photo series with multiple tools
  • Utilize constructive criticism to improve photographic artistry
  • Interpret the meaning of photographs through multiple perspectives

Unit 6: Finding Your Peeps: Photography and Community

We humans are social creatures. Getting together with other photographers is one way to find community, learn new things, get critiques, and share your photography. While online photo communities have a lot to offer, finding your peers in person is a great way to go deeper into developing a community to support you in your work. Plus, you need to learn how to collaborate if you want to work with a group to develop exhibits or projects. Photography can also be a tool to bring together other communities too, giving voice to those who are often unseen in the media. Community-based photography projects offer a way to collaborate or cooperate with community groups to bring new content to the public eye and give back with your developing photography skills. Let’s take a deeper look at this, as well as how to develop your own artistic voice and recognize the voice and style of other photographers.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Discuss the importance of photography clubs, today and throughout photographic history
  • Connect the changes in photography to the technological changes that have happened in the medium
  • Distinguish between collaboration, cooperation, and teamwork and integrate the collaborative process into group projects
  • Engage community members in photography projects
  • Assess the artistic voice and style of famous photographers and peers

Unit 7: Digital Video: Production and Post-Production

Digital photo overload! How do the professionals handle the thousands of photos they create? You know how to organize them in folders, but how do you pick which ones to show in your portfolio? As you’ll quickly see, it’s important to learn strategies for culling the masses of photos into a concise, organized portfolio with a theme. Putting together your portfolio with a theme, an audience in mind, and good formatting will allow you to apply for art schools or gallery shows, bringing your photography to the next level. Developing skills that will support your professional career, including soft skills and business skills for the budding photography entrepreneur, is also key. After all, by keeping your photography ideas organized you’ll be better set to inspire new ones as you continue as a student, amateur, or even professional photographer.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Analyze and organize your process for choosing portfolio photos
  • Tailor your portfolio to the intended audience, whether it is art school, a gallery show, or a client
  • Apply soft skills like adaptability, interpersonal communication, and time management to support a photography career
  • Develop a plan to continue to learn technical skills, business skills, and to grow as a creative photographer, whether amateur, student, or professional

Unit 8: Presenting Your Portfolio

Ready, set, take a bow! It’s time to reflect on your photography, linking it to other photographers both past and contemporary, and also contemplate how far you have come during this course. Remember to take inspiration from other photographers and your own progress and use it to propel you to finalize your portfolio, making it as polished and fabulous as you can. Finally, take a deep breath and look forward to the possible ways that you can incorporate your photography skills into your life—whether as a career, a useful addition to your job skills, or a satisfying hobby.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Connect your photographic work to that of famous photographers of yesterday and today
  • Analyze your progress and creatively write and revise your artist’s statement
  • Sequence your portfolio in an aesthetically pleasing way
  • Research, identify, and pursue job or avocational opportunities in photography

Required Materials

  • Computer with:
    • Internet access
    • Ability to download photo programs and applications
    • Slideshow program
    • Word processing program
    • Properly labeled folders to organize photo projects
  • A digital camera that offers both automatic and manual control
  • A video recording device
  • Appropriate camera cables
  • Several friends, family members, and peers to volunteer as subjects/photo assistants and participate in peer reviews/critiques
  • Sketchbook or blank (lined or unlined) notebook
  • Miscellaneous objects to use for photography subjects (soccer cleat, baseball hat, a piece of jewelry, etc.)
  • Various lighting (overhead lights, table lamps, clamp lights)
  • Examples of photographs you’ve taken (complete, almost complete, and incomplete)
  • Access to a community of people in your area that are willing to participate in a community art project
  • Ability to explore and photograph areas outside of your home (public locations, outdoor nature spaces, etc.)
  • A variety of media sources (CF, SD, or DVD formats)
  • Photo/image editing software
  • A variety of art supplies (paint, scissors, glue, posters, paper, magazines, etc.) to communicate ideas, themes, and concepts visually without photography



  • Printer
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