Photography Unit Study


This lesson is ©Copyright 2008 by Cindy Downes. All rights reserved. Permission is given to homeschooling parents to use this unit free of charge in their own homeschool only. This unit may not be reprinted in any other form, for any other purpose (commercial or otherwise) without permission from Cindy Downes. Contact:

A Twelve-Lesson Unit for Grades 7-12


This unit is designed to give teens a brief introduction to photography. It is designed to be completed in twelve lessons, one lesson per day for twelve days or one lesson per week for twelve weeks; however, you can customize it to any schedule depending upon how much material you cover and how long you take to cover it. Read over General Directions for Cindy's Unit Studies for information on how to teach multi-level units.

This Photography Unit is written in the same format as The Checklist and is therefore organized according to the scripture, Luke 2:52, “And Jesus increased in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and man.”

Please note: I have tried to include only links that are family-friendly. However, when researching the Internet on photography, you may be presented with links that include objectionable photos. Before the lesson, bookmark any links that you wish to include in the lesson to help eliminate this problem.

If you need photography books or camera equipment, please visit my Photography Store. Sales from this store provide me with a referral fee which I use to help finance this Web site. Thank you in advance!

Wisdom, Part I: Acquire knowledge about God and His story

Bible, History, & Geography

Lesson 1: What does the Bible say about photography? Read the following and discuss.

Leviticus 26:1, “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.”

We are not to create images to worship; however, Ezekiel 4:1 says, “Now, son of man, take a clay tablet, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it.” This shows that art is to be used for God's purposes.

God expects us to use a gift of art for His Glory. See 1 Kings 7:13-45 as an example. Huram was gifted in bronze work and created pomegranates, lilies, gourds, bulls, and lions to decorate the Temple. Photography is just another form of art which is to be used for God's glory.

Lesson 2: How does photography fit into His story?

Learn the history of photography:

History Timeline of Photography. The art of photography began in 1839 with the Daguerreotype and continues today in many forms.

A History of Photography. Read how photography began.

Learn about the life and work of famous photographers. Pick two or three of the following photographers and research their life and work. Use Famous Person Report form if desired. See if you can discover what their relationship with God was and how it affected their work. Click on Significant People from A History of Photography site and any other resources you can find. Some other sites have been suggested below.

  • Louis Daguerre - Daguerreotype

  • William Henry Fox Talbot - Calotype

  • Frederick Scott Archer - Collodion process

  • Richard Maddox - Gelatin, dry process

  • William Henry Jackson & Carleton Eugene Watkins - Photos convinced Congress to set aside National Parks

  • William Hyde Wollaston - camera lucida

  • Adam Clark Vroman - Photography of Indian Missions

  • Peter Henry Emerson - First photos of ordinary scenes of everyday life

  • Paul Martin - First candid photography, concealed camera as pile of books or in a leather case

  • Alfred Stieglitz - Established photography as an art form (

  • Lewis Hine - First social photographer - Ellis Island immigrants, war-relief work, victims of the depression

  • Erich Salomon- Pioneered techniques of photojournalism, candid photos of diplomatic conferences, criminal trials, Supreme Court in session

  • Man Ray - mocked literal realism, used double exposure, photo montage, solarization, manipulation to express scorn for the world, Dadaism & Surrealism, Rayographs (put objects on photo paper and expose with light).

  • Lazlo Hoholy-Nagy - Avant-guard art, Academy of Radical Art, Design and Social Thinking

  • Dorothea Lange - Photograph of bread line in 1932 started her career, compassion

  • Paul Strand - people portraits

  • Edward Weston - Photographer of Hollywood stars, dancers, 1st photographer to receive Guggenhelm Fellowship, photographed American West, archetypal

  • Walker Evans - “world's greatest expert at photographing empty rooms in houses and making them echo with the people who live there.”

  • W. Eugene Smith - “record events in a way that showed his own compassion for the joys and suffering of humanity.” Sense of mission, help increase people's sympathy for fellow human beings, Depression, WWII heroism, the horror of modern warfare

  • Bill Brandt - Surreal photojournalist

  • Henry Cartier-Bresson - Most influential photographer of his generation, had a talent for remaining invisible to people he photographed (used black tape to cover metal shine on camera). Noted for great timing, photographing the "decision moment"

  • Ansel Adams - foremost photographer of the American land - particularly the West.

  • Minor White- Visual poems, a metaphor of something else, Introduced the "Sequence"

  • Harry Callahan - extreme tonal scales, designs in black and white

  • Yousuf Karsh - specialized in flawless portraits of famous men

  • Philippe Halsman - imaginative portraits of famous people (Albert Einstein, Adlai Stevenson made into stamps)

  • Irving Penn - America's foremost fashion photographer, 1943 Vogue cover launched career

  • Ernst Haas - Noted for talent of photographing color, panning, intentional movement to mix color in background, underexposure

  • George Eastman - Invented "American Film", camera came preloaded with film, you take shot, send camera back, they process and send camera back with new film in it. Invented a system. "you press the button, we do the rest"

  • James Clerk Maxwell - Additive colors

  • Louis Ducos du Hauron - Subtractive theory

  • Eadweard Muybridge - develops a fast shutter that aids him in making photographs of objects in motion

Wisdom, Part II: Acquire knowledge about God's Creation

Lesson 3: Reading. Read a book about photography or a biography of a photographer.

Choose one or two of the following books, search the Photography Store, or use your library.

Lesson 4: Communication - Do an oral and written project on one or more of the following:

  • Select one famous photographer and write a biography or give an oral report.

  • Glossary - Research and write the definition of: Daguerreotype, Calotype, collodion process, f/64 Group, Camera Lucida, Camera Obscura, subtractive theory, wet plate process, tintype, color photography, panchromatic film, Kodachrome, archetypal

  • Visit a photo lab to see how film is developed and how enlargements are made. Write a paper or give an oral report on what you learned.

  • How are photos restored?

  • Learn the difference between film cameras versus digital camera. See Science below. Write a report or give an oral report.

  • Explain depth of field, film speed, and exposure. See Science below.

  • Create a list or database of community resources for photographers: stores, labs, courses, galleries

  • Make a list of camera equipment: tripod, lenses, filters, etc.

Lesson 5: Math

Lesson 6: Science

Lesson 7: Art

  • Pick a shape (triangle, square, circle) and take a series of photos of everything you can find that contains this shape. Mount as displays and then ask others if they can identify the theme.

  • Take four pictures that illustrate: shape, lines, rhythm, texture

  • Take a series of pictures based on a theme or idea: unusual architecture, flowers, reflections, circles, etc. and create a display.

  • Visit a photography studio

  • Attend a photography exhibit

  • Learn to frame and display photos.

  • Learn to analyze a photo.

Lesson 8: Music

  • Take pictures that represent these moods or feelings: happiness, loneliness, sadness, pride, fun, anger, confusion, boredom, fear.

  • Create a slide show with music to accompany the photos.

Stature: (Physical Development & Care of the Temple)

Lesson 9: Learn how photography can be used to improve health. Choose one or two activities.

  • Take a nature walk and shoot photos of what you see.

  • Shoot photos at a sports event - involves lots of walking!

  • Learn about photography careers in the medical field: Biomedical Photography

  • Learn about advertising and fashion photography. How does the knowledge of skin care, clothing, and food help in this area?

In Favor with God

Spiritual Growth, Doers of the Word, Stewardship

Lesson 10: Stewardship

  • Learn how to maintain, clean, and store your camera.

Lesson 11: Develop your God-given gift of photography, if applicable:

  • Enroll in a photo course at a local vo-tech program or on the web at: or

  • Practice portrait photography: Take a "head shot" of a friend

  • Ask to go along with a professional photographer as an "assistant" or even to just watch.

  • Create a portfolio.

  • Create a business card.

  • Careers: Fine Art, Portraits, Wedding, Commercial (Fashion & Advertising), Architectural, Sports, Newspaper, Forensic, Biomedical, Law, Travel, Public Relations

  • Select one of the photography careers that interests you and research it. Find out what type of work they do and what training is needed. If possible, ask to spend a couple of hours with them and perhaps develop this into an internship program.

  • Get a part-time job in a photo store or lab.

In Favor with Man

Serves the church, family, & community, hospitality [decor], crisis intervention [abortion, substance abuse], respect for life [adoption, eldercare, handicapped], biblical counseling

Lesson 12: How can photography be used in social issues and missions?

  • Take pictures that tell a story or that illustrate a book or poem. Prepare an exhibit of your photos.

  • Create a photo greeting card or calendar to send to shut in.

  • If you are involved in a homeschool organization that has a graduation and yearbook, get involved!

  • Photograph a community event and send it to your local chamber of commerce. Offer to let them use it in their brochures.

  • Offer to photograph a special event for a nonprofit organization (outreach project, mission trip, event,etc.)

For information on scheduling, see Sample Schedule.

Be sure to enter these topics on your copy of The Checklist.

Please let me know if any of these links do not work. Email:



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