Beginning Photography for Student Publications
Billie Lou Rickard
Sharon High School, Sharon, Kansas
Grade: 10- 12
"Since the school does not have a darkroom, my equipment
was set up in a small closet, with no water and only room for
two people to squeeze into. But enthusiasm did not falter."
Purpose and Description of Project
This yearbook journalism project was designed to give students
the necessary skills to shoot effective color and black-and-white
photos and to process prints suitable for use in student publications.
This goal was to be reached through a combination of demonstrations,
group discussions, lectures, slide shows, assignments, and lab
work- and, more important, through photographing student life.
Students used a 35 mm
to practice loading and unloading
, holding the camera steady, and focusing, framing, and
shooting with the proper meter reading. Next they were instructed
in and practiced darkroom and developing procedures with their
own pictures. Student knowledge was reinforced by labeling photos
with the film speed, shutter speed, and aperture setting, and
negatives with the printing time, filter number, and aperture
setting. A professional photographer visited the class twice to
critique the students' camera-handling and composition skills,
and to discuss guidelines for photographing people. A yearbook
consultant then instructed students on cropping and layout techniques
and led a question-and-answer session on the procedures and problems
of printing a student publication. Following their instruction
and practice, the class produced a mini-yearbook to demonstrate
their newly acquired skills-and they shot, developed, and printed
all but the group photos for the school's 68-page yearbook. Their
work was evaluated on their ability to use the camera and to produce
good-quality prints. Rickard used worksheets, quizzes, and tests
to determine where students needed reinforcement.
Materials, Resources, and Expenses
Students used a 35 mm camera, film of various speeds, and typical
darkroom supplies. The teacher also provided reference books on
photography in general and on student publications and developing,
printing, and enlarging photos in particular.
Acting as consultants were a photography instructor from Northwestern
Oklahoma State University who helped with photo developing and
printing, a local teacher (and photography buff) who critiqued
photos and introduced composition techniques, and a yearbook sales
representative who assisted with yearbook layout and publication
Outcomes and Adaptability
Rickard believes that "Because successful photography depends
on the photographer's perception and style, the students sought
subjects that interested them; therefore, they communicated their
thoughts and feelings." Dubious at first that they could
provide quality photos, the students gained self-confidence, patience,
and self-discipline as they were trusted to use the camera and
prepare their own prints. Enthusiasm remained high as students
worked together to meet a common goal, and their judgment and
sense of impartiality improved as they became more selective in
taking challenging and inspiring photos.
While the original project was carried out with borrowed equipment,
the Board of Education responded to student interest by building
a school darkroom and purchasing photo equipment. A Yearbook Journalism
course was also established to stimulate more student creativity.
Rickard states that this project can be easily adapted to any
form of journalism-mass media, newspapers, or photography-by altering
the photo assignments. Rickard also finds this equally appropriate
for science, art and creative writing classes at the junior and
senior high school levels.