This past summer I attended a funeral. When one reaches their retirement years, it seems only natural to attend more funerals of friends and loved-ones.
However, as friends of his grandparents, my wife and I attended the funeral of a 19 year old youth. Scott Wachal left his family and friends much too early but he also left me with an important message.
Scott’s unique talents and creativity were demonstrated by the wealth of memories shared through objects in the vestibule of the church together with the inspirational video tribute. Regardless of whether it was his violin that he played as a 9 year old busker, or his Irish dancing tap shoes, or his skate-boarding and free-style skiing tricks, it was his creative images, sketches, and photographs that caught my eye.
I believe that Scott’s view of life was influenced greatly by what he observed and what he captured in his photos. In fact, the following assignment, which was shared in his Order of Service, reinforced in me the importance of pictures:
8 Describe an event or idea that has become very influential on your life.
When I was in the sixth grade, my grandpa passed away due to liver cancer. My grandpa loved me deeply and I loved him back, however I didn’t see him all that often and I wasn’t super close with him.
I remember at his funeral, and throughout the following years, hearing endless stories and memories about my grandpa. Everyone has such positive things to say about him, and there was so much about him that i never knew. I remember feeling really sad that I hadn’t spent more time with him and really appreciated all his good qualities.
I think my feelings of regret and sadness after my grandpa’s death have sparked a need inside me to take in as much as I can from the people around me. I carry my camera around with me everywhere, trying to capture my friends and family living and breathing to the fullest extent. I pay greater attention to the character of a person and try to appreciate all aspects of their personality.
~ Scott Wachal
True … not everyone has the same passion for capturing life through a camera as Scott, but I do believe that all students today can learn much more about life when they view the world through a camera lens.
Today it seems that more and more students have access to a digital camera or smartphone. Although a past Panasonic ad campaign declared that “If it has a ring tone, it’s not a camera”, most students would disagree. Having immediate access to these pocket-sized, picture-taking devices allows one to capture many unique and serendipitous moments.
The question that remains is … “How can we, as educators, help students express their creativity through their photos?”
To help readers, I have a arranged below a variety of resources to help engage students in taking and sharing creative photos:
- Darren Kuropatwa’s SlideShare entitled “Don’t Just Shoot” – Although today’s students have the opportunity to take more pictures, they still need to understand what makes a photo look really good.
All educators are encouraged to review, download, and share this presentation which illustrates “five photographic composition techniques: the rule of thirds, framing, fill the frame, lines and forced perspective.”
- 13 Lessons To Teach Your Child About Digital Photography – These great illustrated tips complement Darren’s SlideShare resource identified above.
- Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide Want an extensive resource on how a digital camera works, its automatic and manual settings, together with composition and editing tips? If so, check out this online Lifehacker night school resource.
- DS106 – Daily Create – Photography Archives – Educators may want to stimulate students to take a creative photo each day or once a week and share them with the class. The DS106 Digital Storytelling course includes a number of creative prompts to engage students in taking pictures from different perspectives.
- See The Good: A 365 Photo Project – From the dedicated educator who shared her creative free, motivational, educational posters, Krissy Venosdale invites one to take a picture a day which focuses on “goodness” and to share such inspiring photos.
- Quick! Get the (Digital) Camera! – Two dozen activities for using digital cameras in the classroom.
- Taking Photos of Curious George: Exploring Character Through Images – This K-2 lesson focuses on creating a digital class book about the possible adventures that Curious George might encounter if he visited your school.
- Ideas For Using The Digital Camera In The Primary Classroom – This SlideShare resource, of 17 frames, includes such innovative ideas as “What am I?”, digital portrait flip-book, and images taken from an ant’s perspective. Each activity displays an important “WALT” (We Are Learning Today) prompt.
- The Digital Camera in Education – This site focuses on how the digital cameras in today’s mobile phones can be integrated into the educational process.
- 100 Ways to Use Digital Cameras – A comprehensive list of different ways digital cameras and their photos can be used in your classroom.
- Integrating Digital Cameras into the Language Classroom: A Sample Project – Capitalize on spontaneity in your class by encouraging students to take pictures to illustrate a story chain activity.
- Using A Digital Camera in the Classroom – This resource includes projects to spark your imagination in both general as well as specific subject areas.
- Using Smartphones During Classes: Lesson Ideas – Descriptions of activities in which a smartphone can be used to enhance learning in an English Language Arts classroom.
- Picture This: 5 Ways Teachers Can Use Instagram in the Classroom – Harness the versatility of Instagram through photo essays, writing prompts, document learning, raising funds, and showcasing progress.
- Image with a Message – Rather than have students search online for a Creative Commons image, challenge students to use a camera to capture their own background photo to which their favourite quotation is added.
- #WhileWalking 100: MeThinks Selfies – Darren Kuropatwa suggests a unique way in which student “selfy” images can be used with quotations, thoughts, or speech bubbles.
- Small World Pictures – Innovative ideas in both the blog post and comments that demonstrate how interesting images can be created by introducing small (HO gauge) figures into the picture.
- Photoshop Project Ideas – Have students take photos and manipulate them using image-editing software such as Gimp, PhotoPlus, or Photoshop to produce unique creations.
- 65 Very Creative and Funny Photoshopped Images – Get inspired by images that will motivate you to learn how to manipulate photos in a creative manner.
- Displaying & Sharing Your Digital Photos – A short course on digital photography and how to share creations through slide shows, publishing e-books and sharing online.
- Using Pictures to Create Rubrics – Although this “Picture Rubric” is shared as a primary assessment tool, this strategy can be applied to many subjects at different grade levels.
- Digital Photography Rubric – This extensive Word (.doc) file provides a detailed photography project rubric to provide students with important feedback on original images.
- Photography Rubric – This PDF document was used by the Markville Secondary School’s yearbook team to help students improve on their photography techniques and documentation.
In closing, I began this post with an “eye-catching” photo created by Rachel Chapman. Not only does this manipulated image capture my imagination, it also reminds me of the important proverb that Scott Wachal believed in … “Beauty is in the ‘eye’ of the beholder”.
Take care & keep smiling 🙂
Credits: – Flickr – Creative Commons image “Look at us through the lens of a camera…” by Rachel Chapman