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Photography and Image Manipulation

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Language Arts And English +6 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

Guiding Questions:

What should a photograph look like?

Why might someone want to alter, change, or edit a photograph? What is the goal?

What are the ethical considerations regarding image manipulation?

Time- 1-2 class periods with optional extension activities

This collection includes images related to the topic of image manipulation and artistic photography, and includes a lesson plan for teachers as well as images and students activities related to media literacy across the curriculum. The collection of images and articles is designed to facilitate conversations around how and why images might be manipulated and for what purpose. Discussion questions and thinking routines allow for students to critically analyze the images as whole group and in small groups to consider why and how a photographer or artist might alter an image. Extension activities and resources are also included.

Day 1:

Warm Up/ Engagement:

What should a photograph look like?

Have students do a think-pair-share together addressing the question. Alternatively, this could be done as a silent chalk talk.

Debrief as a group.

Background:

Discuss:

Why might someone want to alter, change, or edit a photograph? What is the goal?

Have you ever altered or changed a photograph? How? Why? (Think Shapchat, Instagram, Photoshop, etc.)

Is it ever a problem to manipulate a photography? Why?

As critical viewers of media and images, students should always consider the audience and purpose of photographs. For example, an artistic photograph doesn’t have the same audience or purpose as a journalistic photograph.

Explain to students:

We’re going to look closely at the work of two photographers (Jerry Uelsmann and Robert Weingarten) to see how photographers might manipulate their images (digitally or otherwise), why they might do this, and the effect it has on the viewer.

Close Looking:

Lead students through a discussion of one of Uelsmann’s images by looking closely at one image as a group using the Visible Thinking routine, “See Think Wonder.”

Discuss the photographer’s likely message, audience and purpose of the image. Then have students consider how Uelsmann might have created the image.

Then, read an article about Jerry Uelsmann in Smithsonian Magazine, “Before Photoshop.”

Debrief the article and have students journal on their reactions to Uelsmann’s quote, “The camera is a license to explore.”

Alternatively, students can read and discuss the article,"Photography Changes What We Think 'Reality' Looks Like."

Have students share responses with the group as a closing activity.

Day 2

Warm-Up: Recap learning/connections from last class.

Explain that in today’s class we’ll consider the work of another artist and photographer, Robert Weingarten. Weingarten’s work is a “non-traditional” form of portraiture. Before looking at his images, have students brainstorm their ideas on what is a portrait. Students could engage in the 3-2-1 Bridge Routine on this topic.

Close Looking:

Lead students through a discussion of one of Weingarten’s  images by looking closely at one image as a group using the Visible Thinking routine, “Zoom-In.” After looking at the image as a whole, have students consider the image as as whole using the “Connect-Extend-Challenge” routine.

Weingarten’s portraits of Colin Powell and Celia Cruz are linked in the collection.

Discuss the photographer’s likely message, audience and purpose of the image. Then have students consider how Weingarten might have created the image.

After discussing the image, watch the video about Weingarten’s process.  

If time allows, group students into small groups to visually compare/contrast the works of Uelsmann and Weingarten on chart paper.

Exit Ticket:

How do these photographs change your understanding of photography and what can be done with images?

I used to think…

Now I think….

Possible Extension Activities:

Have students create a composite image (surreal landscapes or portraits)  inspired by Robert Weingarten or Jerry Uelsmann with their own photographs and Photoshop.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmwrWCMdYqI

Have students explore other historical images that have been manipulated (intentionally or unintentionally) that are included in the collection.

Article on historical image manipulation from the ClickIt Exhibit

Have students look at the ethical issues in digitally manipulating photographs

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/lesson/retouching-reality-9-12

Have students consider other ways in which the evolution of technology has influenced the images we create.

Using Agency By Design, a design thinking framework, have students complete the following activities:

Parts-Purposes- Complexities Routine-- Digital Camera

Take-Apart Activity w/ digital cameras/analog camera

Have students research different topics in the history of photography including camera obscura, daguerreotype process, Muybridge and moving images, and Kodak.

Readings/Videos:

Additional reading on Uelsmann:

https://www.digitalphotopro.com/profiles/jerry-uelsmann-the-alchemist/

#visiblethinking

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Smithsonian American Art Museum

Think Pair Share Routine: Project Zero Visible Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

See/Think/Wonder: Project Zero Visible Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian American Art Museum

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Smithsonian American Art Museum

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Smithsonian American Art Museum

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Smithsonian American Art Museum

Robert Weingarten Builds Hank Aaron's Portrait

National Museum of American History

Robert Weingarten: "What makes you who you are?"

National Museum of American History

[Pipe-smoking bachelor imagining his future wife : stereo photonegative.]

Archives Center, National Museum of American History