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It’s never been easier to share what you do in the art room with others. From blogs and online portfolios to classroom websites and social media sites, there are infinite ways to use technology to promote your art program. But, almost all of these strategies also require the same time eating task: capturing photographs of student artwork.
After all, the National Art Standards specifically ask teachers to help students “interpret and share artistic work” through the “Presenting” standard. But, as you may be well aware, younger kiddos don’t always have the skills they need to capture great images of their work. Let’s look at ways to change that.
From an advocacy perspective, is vital that we represent our art programs in the most professional way possible. Our websites, blogs, and newsletters need to reflect our deep commitment to quality visual arts education through their content and design. Our “hand,” as a teaching artist, should be evident in these publications.
But, these tech-based advocacy platforms are also the place to showcase a student perspective, through both text and image. Allowing student-directed photography at the elementary level requires you to let go of your adult aesthetic and embrace the beauty of age-appropriate photography. Just as we inherently see the beauty in developmental mark making, we need to recognize the same in photographs, as our youngest artists learn to master their craft.
This means you (and your program stakeholders: parents, administration, and colleagues) need to be comfortable with a portion of your photographs being student-quality. Educate them with a short explanation accompanying the student photographs, articulating the benefits of student-led artwork documentation. Over time, adult viewers will see the value in allowing students to practice this process.
One roadblock to getting a good artwork photo is that there are so many variables to consider. It’s a lot for an elementary artist to manage! You can give your students a jumpstart by creating a station for them. In this way, you can make some smart choices that will influence their photos before they even begin.
You’ll want to consider the following:
Artists have spent lifetimes learning and refining the art of photography, so it is tempting to include dozens of technical details and examples. But, for presentation purposes, our elementary artists only need to “focus” on a few. Teach them some very basic ideas, and let them grow their photography from there! Download the guide below to share with your students! It would make a great anchor chart for your station.
Here are 4 suggestions:
Now your students have been introduced to the fundamentals of photographing their artwork! Over time, you can help them to improve and fine-tune their skills. With practice, your elementary students will develop their craft. Eventually, the reward will be more significant student involvement in the digital presentation of artwork.
What tips do you have for getting successful artwork photography from your younger students?
If you already have an artwork photography station, what tips do you have for starting one?