Students live in a visual culture, and taking photos is a normal part of their everyday life. In order to push students’ work forward and challenge the way they think about photography, it’s important to introduce them to new and interesting photographers.
Here are 10 photographers to inspire you and your students.
1. Ben Thomas
Ben Thomas takes photographs that look like paintings. His work is an interesting counterpoint to photorealistic paintings or drawings.
Challenge your students to look at their environment like it’s a flat painting and see if they can capture this feeling in a photo.
2. Daniel Mercadante
Daniel Mercadante plays with color and light in his photos. When exploring his website, you’ll find both photos and short films. His project Rainbow Road is a great one to share with students when learning about slow shutter speeds and drawing with light.
3. Romina Ressia
Romaina Ressia is a portrait photographer. However, she doesn’t simply capture portraits; she adds an ironic twist to her photos through props, clothing, and expression.
Have students explore how the content of a photo impacts the story by having them stage photos.
4. Sarah Meyohas
Sarah Meyohas’ work often combines photography with filmmaking and performance art. Her project, Speculations, captures images in mirrors creating interesting dimension and repetition. Challenge your students to work with mirrors and see what kind of images they can create.
5. Pedro Correa
Pedro Correa’s photos look like impressionist paintings. The images are often blurred, becoming more about the color and movement than a recognizable subject.
Correa is interested in “capturing” what he sees instead of “creating” it. He does not digitally modify his work. His series, Winter in Youth, best represents this.
Teach students about controlling shutter speed, then have them work to capture photos that look like paintings.
6. Charlies Petillion
Charlies Petillion’s photos will make you and your students want to purchase one million balloons. He has two series titled Invasion. Using white balloons, he creates magical spaces and photographs them. Be sure to explore his website for examples and to view the videos that show his process.
Consider using Petillon’s work as inspiration for an installation at a school event. The piece can work as both a decoration and a photo op.
7. Lorna Simpson
Lorna Simpson explores identity through her work. She often mixes photography and collage to create finished pieces, playing with proportion and juxtaposition.
Have students create a collaborative work inspired by Simpson. You could have four students each contribute one image to a single collage. A project like this could also lead to a great discussion about appropriation.
8. Shirin Neshat
Shirin Neshat’s photographs are powerful and packed with meaning. She explores identity, gender, and political issues in Muslim countries. A lot of her photos are a mix of image and text.
Students can explore a topic about which they feel passionate or reflect on a story they want to tell. Have students take a photo of themselves or another person, incorporating text as mark making and a way to tell a story.
9. Zanele Muholi
Zanele Muholi uses photography as a way to document people and as a form of activism. Her portraits have stark contrast. Careful attention is paid to expression and adornment.
Her portraits make the viewer feel like they’re staring into the eyes of the subject. Have students reflect and journal about how one of her images makes them feel. Go further and discuss the power of an image.
10. Tyler Mitchell
Tyler Mitchell’s photos are editorial and have landed on the cover of Vogue. They have also graced the pages of other magazines like Office, Candy, and The Fader. His photos are bold and carefully posed.
Have students explore his work and then set up a photo-shoot. Next, use the photos to design a magazine cover, learning how to combine text and image.
With evolving technology and resources, photographers are pushing the boundaries of how they create art and images to tell stories. Your students can do the same.
Whom would you add to the list?
After viewing the artists above, what is one new thing you want to try with your photography students this year?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.