Photography: What Makes a Good Picture?

Grade Level: 
Student Level: 
Middle School

Why do some photographs intrigue us more than others? In this program, students are introduced to the science and art behind this extremely popular form of visual communication. Accompanying materials include an in-program activity guide, as well as teaching extensions for getting students launched on their own photographic projects.

In Photography: What Makes a Good Picture? students explore what makes an interesting photograph by viewing the works of contemporary and historical photographers in the museum's collection. Using an activity sheet to discover how focus, framing, timing, point of view, and subject matter can influence meaning in a photograph, students lay the foundation for their own creative view through the camera.

Program Format: 
  • Review elements of a camera.
  • Discuss focus, lighting, point of view, framing, timing, and subject matter using examples by master photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz, Larry Fink, Aaron Siskind, Edward Weston, and others.
  • Elements of photography interactivity throughout the program-students rate which elements are important to various photos from the museum's collection, using the viewing guide provided in the Teacher Information Packet.
  • Answer remaining questions.
  • Students will understand how considerations such as focus, framing, point of view, lighting, timing, and subject matter can influence meaning in a photograph.
  • Students will compare and contrast images taken by contemporary photographers to photographers of historical significance.
  • Students will learn and understand how to use photographs as a stimulus for the creative writing process.
  • Students will learn how photographs can help people recall moments in personal history.