Arts ESU2
Visual Arts, English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Media Arts
  • Mulitple Literacies
  • NE ELA
  • NE Visual Arts
  • Nebraska Department of Education
  • Writing
  • media-arts
  • mulitple-literacies
  • ne-ela
  • ne-visual-arts
  • photography
  • writing
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike

    Education Standards

    Photo Essay

    Photo Essay


    This resource was created by Katie Mace, in collaboration with Dawn DeTurk, Hannah Blomstedt, and Julie Albrecht, as part of ESU2's Integrating the Arts project. This project is a four year initiative focused on integrating arts into the core curriculum through teacher education, practice, and coaching.

    Content Area: English

    Fine Arts Area: Media Arts - Photography

    Grade Level: H.S.

    Teacher:  Katie Mace


    Standards and Alignment

    Content Area Standard:

    LA 10.2.2 Communication informations and ideas effectively in analytic, argumentative, descriptive, informative, narrative, poetic, persuasive, and reflective modes to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.


    LA 8.4.2.b Use appropriate digital tooks to communicate with others for conveying information, gathering opinions, and solving problems.


    Fine Arts Standard:  Media Arts

    FA 8.1.1.b Expand media arts vocabulary along with elements and principles of design in the creative process


    FA 8.1.1 c Utilize available tools, techniques, and conventions in the creation of media arts.

    Key Vocabulary:

    Elements of design

    Light, subject, composition as it relates to photography

    Materials List:

    Electronic Resources (see handouts), Cellphones, personal cameras, or computer camera, solar/battery operated portable lights, computers (Google Docs & Canvas)


    Lesson Delivery

    Day One:

    1. Take a day to teach simple elements to photography. Students should have their phones or partner up with someone who does.

    2. Basics of Photography

    3. Photos of Felines & Canines

    Using “Felines & Canines”-have students identify some of the basics of photography in the photographs. The teacher can have the link on the screen for their room. Or, have the photographs printed off and have students wander the room and identify the different basics like an Art Gallery.

    4. Give students a “photography pass” to wander indoors and outdoors. The pass should have the rules/expectations of them as they wonder.

    5. Have students set a 20 minute timer on their phone, and then leave to wonder and practice the “Basics of Photography”.

    6. Once students return, give them 5-10 minutes to look through their photos taken in the last 20 minutes. They may choose 2-3 of their favorites.

    7. Share a google folder with them on their emails. Have them upload their top photographs to the folder.

    Day Two: Questions & Links from The Power of Images in Storytelling at Nat Geo

    1. Art Gallery: The teacher should print off photographs saved in the Google Doc and “mounted” around the room. Students are to walk around and discuss the basics of photography. They only discuss what they see in basics and what they find attractive about the picture.

    2. Activate background knowledge about the purpose of story telling

                                                i. How do people tell stories?

                                              ii. What method of storytelling might a storyteller use if he or she wants the audience to do or feel something?

    2. Introduce the use of photography in storytelling

    3. Click through the photo essay by Amie Vitale (Photo Essay Amie Vitale & Trout Without Feathers )

                                                i. What story does this series of photographs tell?

                                              ii. Does it tell one story or more than one?

                                             iii. What does using only photographs to tell a story add to the story itself?

                                             iv. How would this story be different if the storyteller only used words and no photographs? Would it add to the story if the storyteller used both words AND photographs?

    Day Three:

    1. Using the “basics of photography” & the concept of a “photo essay”, students will be given a project to utilize both.



    Assessment and Reflection

    Content Assessment:

    Rubric that will assess knowledge of a story

    Arts Assessment:

    Rubric that will assess knowledge of photography

    Student Reflection:

    Presentations in the form of an art gallery where students present their photography essay to peers.

    Teacher Reflection:


    Visuals and Handouts