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Did you take a photography class in college? If you are like me, that means you spent a lot of time in a darkroom trying to get a perfect image. Needless to say, photography has changed a lot in the last few years. I would never consider teaching my middle school students how to develop film, but with all the digital photo apps available, I love using photography in my classroom.
If you want your students to focus on telling a story with their photography then PicTapGo might be the app you are looking for.
This app really is as simple as it sounds. You take a photo or “pic,” you “tap” to add filters and edits, and then you “go” send your image to another social media site or save it to your phone. I love that this app learns your preferences and will save them as your personal “recipes” to use over and over. It doesn’t come in an Android version yet, but according to their Facebook page, it’s coming.
Get it Here: Apple
If you want your students to create a collection of images, then PicCollage is the app for you.
This app allows you to select a group of photos and combine them in many different ways. You can change filters, borders, and more to get the exact look you want. You can even add stickers and text. The app is super easy to use, it is FREE, and it is available for Apple and Android. We used this app last year for our “elements of art photo hunt.” Here is an example of one of my student’s images.
The app is so easy to use that the whole lesson was taught in one 47-minute class period. Check out their website to learn more.
If your students are more advanced and starting to focus on lighting and composition, then I recommend Snapseed or VSCOcam.
Both apps take a little more time to learn to navigate, but what they offer is worth the extra 20 minutes.
You can check them both out and make a choice for yourself. Both are available for your Apple and Android devices and both are FREE!
Get Them Here
Finally, Instagram. Most of us have heard of this app and a lot of us probably already use it.
Instagram is an app that lets you quickly take a photo, edit it, and upload it to social media or share in private messages.
Instagram is great for a quick snapshot of what is happening in our classrooms, but we can use it for more. Check out this blog post where Erin Klein’s second graders created imaginary Instagram accounts for their book characters. I see a meaningful art history lesson in the making!
Why not have your students use Instagram and snap a “what I did in class today” photo? It would make for an effective and easy advocacy piece for your artroom.
Finally, what if we offered our students a hashtag challenge like Jimmy Fallon does every week? Have your students complete the challenge and upload their Instagram images showing how they answered the challenge. If you don’t have it yet, download it now!
Get it Here: Apple / Android
Even with all these lesson ideas, don’t forget the inspiring artists who work with photography. Photographers range from Dorothea Lange and her Migrant Mother to David Hockney and his photo collages to all the modern artists featured on Colossal’s photography section.
The truth is that photography is becoming more and more an everyday part of our students’ lives. As creative art teachers, we can easily incorporate their piqued interest into our lessons. No matter which apps you use or how you incorporate photography in your classroom, give it a try.
How do you use photography in your classroom? What apps do you recommend?
Do you have a favorite photographer you like to teach your students about?