Think about your favorite photo. Who is in it? Why is it special to you?
What do you think people could or should learn from this new photographic exhibition?
Imagine that the photographic exhibition featured in the article only included snapshots taken in the past year. What would those snapshots reveal about culture and society today?
Why is it so important to consider historic context when analyzing photos? What other contexts do you think people should consider to accurately interpret what they see?
- Inform students that photographs are a type of art. They make us feel. They make us think. And the same photo can communicate different messages based on the viewer's interpretation.
- Point out that in the article, curator Anne Wilkes Tucker said she initially selected images for this exhibition based on her gut reaction. Talk about what that means. Then discuss how she used artistic, technical and historic aspects of the photos-and the cameras used to take them-to make her final picks.
- Invite students to visit the Annenberg Space for Photography's site featuring the Not an Ostrich and Other Images from America's Library exhibition. Encourage them to examine the featured photos and those included in the brief video. Instruct students to select one photo.
- Give students time to observe and analyze their photo. Have them take notes about what they feel, think and see from artistic, technical and historic perspectives. Invite students to write a short story based on the photo and their interpretation of it.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
This lesson plan from the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access focuses on important steps in the development of photography in the nineteenth century. Students make observations and inferences about historical photos. Then, they use their deductive skills to place photographs in a historical context.
In this activity from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, high school students will use photographs to research the history of New York’s Lower East Side and to predict the future of the neighborhood.
Invite students to watch this Smithsonian magazine video to learn about events leading up to the development of the first commercially viable color photographic process.
This National Air and Space Museum online exhibition demonstrates how views of our planet from above have helped us better understand it. The site provides examples of satellite imagery and aerial photography used for urban planning and more.
This exhibit from the National Museum of the American Indian presents the pictures and stories of the Huatulco and Huamelula people of Mexico as they talk about their families, the beliefs and practices that sustain their sense of who they are, the ceremonial landscapes to which they remain rooted and the development and migration now changing their world.
This online exhibit form the National Museum of American History features the photographs of photojournalist Fred Maroon, who was granted unusual access to the Nixon White House to document the 1970 reelection campaign as well as major events of the Watergate controversy.
Invite students to view this online exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries to examine the photos of frontier photographer Edward Curtis. His work was an attempt to capture images of American Indians as they lived before contact with Anglo cultures. The site includes biographical details, images and accompanying primary document quotes.
Invite students to watch this Smithsonian magazine video to learn about the multi-layered path of 3D imagery, from its invention in 1841 to the blockbuster movies they see today.