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The Art of Photography Lesson Plan

Click here for a PDF version of the lesson plan.

With the popularity of smartphones and tablets, photography has become one of the easiest ways to document daily life. In this lesson plan, students will explore their surroundings and take pictures that show examples of the elements of art and principles of design using PPHM archive photos as an introduction.

Art Elements

The elements of art are the building blocks used by artists to create a work of art.


Line - The most fundamental of the art elements. A moving point in space Can be real—a yellow line on a road—or implied— geese flying in a “V”Objects in your photo such as a rectangular door, a round tree, or square tiles add “shape” to an image.
Click here for an example of line.


Shape and Form - what takes your two-dimensional photograph and makes it appear life-like and three-dimensional. This is usually achieved by controlling the light on your subject.
Click here for an example of shape and form.

Color - Saturation: The intensity or purity of a color. Value: The lightness or darkness of a color. In photography value is created by the amount of light and the range of tones, or light and dark areas, in a scene.
Click here for an example of color.

Tone - The quality of light and dark, both in terms of color and shades of gray in a composition. Light and dark values give you visual clues about the shapes and forms of objects. Black and white photos rely completely on tone because of their lack of color.
Click here for an example of tone.

Space - the area between and around objects. The space around objects is often called negative space; negative space has shape. Space can also refer to the feeling of depth. Real space is three-dimensional; in visual art, when we create the feeling or illusion of depth, we call it space.
Click here for an example of space.

Texture - Appealing to the sense of touch In photography, a sense of texture can help to make a photograph look more realistic or to enhance a 3-D feel
Click here for an example of texture.

Principles of Design

The principles of design describe the ways that artists use the elements of art in a work of art

Balance - The appearance of equal visual weight within a composition. Symmetrical—Mirror image composition, similar on either side. Asymmetrical—still looks balanced by objects, are not centered in the frame (Rule of Thirds). Radial—Circular style composition, all objects radiate from a central pointThe relationship between the sizes of objects or components in an image
Click here for an example of balance.

Proportion - Helps to indicate an object’s size, distance, and location
Click here for an example of proportion.

Repetition of elements helps to create a sense of rhythm or movement in a photograph.
Click here for an example of repetition.

Contrast - the scale of difference between black and white in your images. Without contrast you wouldn't have an image because there wouldn't be any differentiation between light and dark; everything would be black, white, or a single shade of grey somewhere in between.
Click here for an example of contrast.

Variety - all the different elements in the photograph Variety helps to add interest to the work and keeps the viewer’s eyes moving around the piece
Click here for an example of variety.

Movement and rhythm - real or implied motion (think action photography). Movement can also refer to how a viewer’s eye travels through a picture. Rhythm can be created by the organized repetition of art elements of objects.
Click here for an example of movement.

Emphasis refers to the focal point of the work.
Click here for an example of emphasis.


Unity occurs when all of the individual parts of the photograph come together and support each other to make one unified image.
Click here for an example of unity.

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Student Worksheets


Copy these worksheets so your students can have a guide while out taking photographs.
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Lesson Plans

Art of Photography TEKS

Art, Grade 6

(1) Perception. The student develops and organizes ideas from the environment. The student is expected to:

(A) illustrate themes from direct observation, personal experience, and traditional events; and

(B) analyze and form generalizations about the interdependence of the art elements such as color, texture, form, line, space, and value and principles such as emphasis, pattern, rhythm, balance, proportion, and unity, using art vocabulary appropriately.

(2) Creative expression/performance. The student expresses ideas through original artworks, using a variety of media with appropriate skill. The student is expected to:

(A) express a variety of ideas based on personal experience and direct observations;

(C) demonstrate technical skills effectively, using a variety of art media and materials to produce designs, drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, fiberart, photographic imagery, and electronic media-generated art.

(4) Response/evaluation. The student makes informed judgments about personal artworks and the artworks of others. The student is expected to:

(A) conduct in-progress analyses and critiques of personal artworks; and

Art, Grade 7

(1) Perception. The student develops and organizes ideas from the environment. The student is expected to:

(A) illustrate ideas from direct observation, imagination, personal experience, and school and community events; and

(B) compare and contrast the use of art elements and principles, using vocabulary accurately.

(2) Creative expression/performance. The student expresses ideas through original artworks, using a variety of media with appropriate skill. The student is expected to:

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(A) create artworks based on direct observations, personal experience, and imagination;

(C) produce drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, fiberart, photographic imagery, and electronic media-generated art, using a variety of art materials and tools in traditional and experimental ways.

(4) Response/evaluation. The student makes informed judgments about personal artworks and the artworks of others. The student is expected to:

(A) analyze and compare relationships, such as function and meaning, in personal artworks; and

(B) analyze original artworks, portfolios, and exhibitions by peers and others to form conclusions about formal properties, historical and cultural contexts, and intent.

Art, Grade 8

(1) Perception. The student develops and organizes ideas from the environment. The student is expected to:

(A) illustrate ideas from direct observation, imagination, and personal experience and from experiences at school and community events; and

(B) define a variety of concepts directly related to the art elements and principles, using vocabulary accurately.

(2) Creative expression/performance. The student expresses ideas through original artworks, using a variety of media with appropriate skill. The student is expected to:

(C) select appropriate art materials and tools to interpret subjects or themes when producing drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, fiberart, photography/film making, and electronic media-generated art, traditionally and experimentally.

(3) Historical/cultural heritage. The student demonstrates an understanding of art history and culture as records of human achievement. The student is expected to:

(A) analyze ways in which electronic media/technologies have influenced art;

(B) identify cultural ideas expressed in artworks relating to social, political, and environmental themes; and

(4) Response/evaluation. The student makes informed judgments about personal artworks and the artworks of others. The student is expected to:

(A) analyze with the teacher or peers personal artworks in progress, using critical attributes, and participate in individual and group critiques; and

(B) analyze original artworks, portfolios, and exhibitions by peers and others to form conclusions about formal properties, historical and cultural contexts, intents, and meanings.


Art, level 1

Perception. The student develops and organizes ideas from the environment. The student is expected to:

(A) illustrate ideas for artworks from direct observation, experiences, and imagination; and

(B) compare and contrast the use of art elements (color, texture, form, line, space, value) and art principles (emphasis, pattern, rhythm, balance, proportion, unity) in personal artworks and those of others, using vocabulary accurately.

(2) Creative expression/performance. The student expresses ideas through original artworks, using a variety of media with appropriate skill. The student is expected to:

(A) create visual solutions by elaborating on direct observation, experiences, and imagination;

(3) Historical/cultural heritage. The student demonstrates an understanding of art history and culture as records of human achievement. The student is expected to:

(A) compare and contrast historical and contemporary styles, identifying general themes and trends;

(B) describe general characteristics in artworks from a variety of cultures; and

(4) Response/evaluation. The student makes informed judgments about personal artworks and the artworks of others. The student is expected to:

(A) interpret, evaluate, and justify artistic decisions in personal artworks; and

(B) select and analyze original artworks, portfolios, and exhibitions by peers and others to form precise conclusions about formal qualities, historical and cultural contexts, intents, and meanings.


Art, level 2

Knowledge and skills.

(1) Perception. The student develops and organizes ideas from the environment. The student is expected to:

(A) interpret visual parallels between the structures of natural and human-made environments; and

(2) Creative expression/performance. The student expresses ideas through original artworks, using a variety of media with appropriate skill. The student is expected to:

(A) formulate multiple solutions to expand personal themes that demonstrate intent;

(B) apply design skills in creating practical applications, clarifying presentations, and defining choices made by consumers; and

(C) select from a variety of art media and tools to communicate specific ideas in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, fiberart, jewelry, photography/filmmaking, and electronic media-generated art.

(3) Historical/cultural heritage. The student demonstrates an understanding of art history and culture as records of human achievement. The student is expected to:

(A) study a selected historical period or style of art;

(4) Response/evaluation. The student makes informed judgments about personal artworks and the artworks of others. The student is expected to:

(A) select and critique artworks in progress, making decisions about future directions in personal work; and

(B) select and critique original artworks, portfolios, and exhibitions by peers or others.


Art, level 3

Knowledge and skills.

(1) Perception. The student develops and organizes ideas from the environment. The student is expected to:

(B) analyze visual qualities to express the meaning of images and symbols, using precise art vocabulary.

(2) Creative expression/performance. The student expresses ideas through original artworks, using a variety of media with appropriate skill. The student is expected to:

(A) solve visual problems by planning and attempting a variety of solutions;

(C) select from a variety of art media and tools to express intent in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, fiberart, jewelry, photography/filmmaking, and electronic media-generated art.

(C) analyze a selected career opportunity in art, identifying the training, skills, and plan of action necessary for realizing such a goal.

(4) Response/evaluation. The student makes informed judgments about personal artworks and the artworks of others. The student is expected to:

(A) select artworks for a personal portfolio based on evaluation of developmental progress, competency in problem-solving, and a variety of visual ideas; and

(B) analyze original artworks, portfolios, and exhibitions to form conclusions about formal qualities, historical and cultural contexts, intents, and meanings and to show innovation and provide examples of in-depth exploration of one or more themes.

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