Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lesson: Photo Portfolio Ideas


Wasn't it just yesterday that I posted to say HI again after such a long hiatus? Okay, I suppose it has been longer than I thought... once again. Now that my first year teaching is completely complete, it is time to show you all the really cool stuff we (my students) did this past year. I plan on going a little out of order, so I hope you don't mind. This post is all about the portfolio, well, mostly.

I need to take a moment and get all schmaltzy for those teachers out there and reflect on my year.... and boy, what a year it has been. At the beginning of the year, I found out that my "mentor" was due with her 2nd in December. As happy as I was for her, I certainly was freaking out about the idea of not having her around to really guide me through this first year. Most of my learning had to happen right away while I could pick her brain as her belly grew larger by the day (sorry mlm, but it was a really cute belly!). Negotiating the first year teaching, what works, what was a flop, how to truly balance the scaffolded learning of photography, and grow eyes in the back of my head and ears like a hawk as I gracefully zoomed from darkroom to classroom to film changing room to developing stations. Yes, I said gracefully. Let me have my own memories, please.

Regardless, the really sappy part is that I really did enjoy each and every one of my students. Sure, sometimes they knew exactly how to test those limits (specifically push my buttons, thank you 9th period), but truthfully they are all such great kids that I fell for each one of them. By the end of the year, I got to know each student more deeply than I anticipated, and I saw those kids create photographs and artwork that I know they did not think they could create.


(Now back to the real post...)


That has been the glory of the portfolio. Each semester, I held on to the students' artwork along the way, and then had them create 3 additional knock my socks off photos. The first semester, as they were still learning to create excellent photographs, they had to show me that they could, indeed, do that. The second semester was geared more towards individual aesthetic and creativity. The students had a choice to create pieces from a list of options. Some options were "worth" more than others as they were more labor intensive, but students could choose any combination from the sheet that piqued their fancy, plus one amazingly perfect, creatively composed, knock my socks off, straight up photograph. Giving the students the choice of which projects to attempt really gave them the option to choose what they were interested in personally, but also to choose a project that was challenging to them- which the students really know their own readiness levels, and these projects still allowed them to be creative with a new technique without any being easy. At the very end, we were able to look at where they started (yikes!) and where they ended. Even the students were blown away with their progress.

Here are a few examples of what the students came up with for their 2nd semester 'artistic' portfolio pieces (thank you for the suggestions and advice, Mary Lee and Melissa!):

Straight print

Painting with Developer





Scratch Print (or scratch negative)







3D Pop-Out



Burnt Negative


















Zoom the Enlarger






Photo Collage



















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