Everyday Projects Curriculum Lesson 2

Everyday Projects Education Curriculum

Produced by Everyday Projects in partnership with PhotoWings

We’re excited to bring you a new curriculum created in partnership with The Everyday Projects!

The curriculum utilizes photography to encourage middle and high school students to learn about stereotypes, representation, journalism, and truth in storytelling.

Over the course of ten classroom sessions, students will gain a broader understanding of life around the world, and can then apply those lessons to their own lives and help control of the narrative of their own homes and communities. In the process, they will become more aware and discerning news consumers and global citizens while learning practical photography and journalism skills.

In doing this we help create new generations of storytellers and audiences that challenge stereotypes that distort our understanding of the world and recognize the need for multiple perspectives in portraying the cultures that define us.

Common Core Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7: Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.4.1.D: Review the key ideas expressed and explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

Teacher Preparation

Cameras for Students:

Note that students will begin to use cameras in this lesson. The preference is for students to use the cameras on their own smartphones – this helps to demonstrate that it’s not necessary to use fancy gear to effectively tell stories using photography. But if teachers have access to other kinds of cameras, that’s fine, too.


  1. If possible, invite a professional photojournalist/photographer from your community to be a guest speaker in this class — by video if an actual visit isn’t workable. They can draw on the lessons included in the Photography as Storytelling video/slideshow, or they may have their own presentation on the elements of photography. This is also a good way to help the transition of your geographical focus from Africa to your local community as you continue the discussion of photography, stereotypes, and storytelling.

  2. Decide how the students will make pictures. Again, using smartphone cameras is ideal. If your school has a policy forbidding the use of phones in school, you’ll want to figure out how to arrange for an exemption to this policy for the class. Also, there may be students who don’t have their own smartphones — in this case having students pair up to share a smartphone would work.

  3. Watch the Photography as Storytelling video and decide if you would rather show that to students or use the slideshow to give the presentation yourself. Both the video and the slideshow have the same photographs organized the same way, so it’s just a question of whether you feel you can comfortably discuss these issues of composition, etc., with your students, or if you’d prefer to have them watch the video. Be mindful of the time — note that the video is about 12 minutes long. If you stop the video frequently for discussion/questions or give the presentation yourself, it could easily take a lot more time.Note that at the end of this lesson there is a brief section on the logistics of how you will gather the photos your students make. There are numerous ways to do this — it’s essential that you establish a clear process with your students early on, because soon you’ll have all of your students wanting to upload/send dozens of images to you. Having a clear process can help you avoid confusion!
  4. Online Media:






Lesson 2: Learning to Make Photographs and How to Approach People

Length: 50 min
Learning Objectives Students will:

  • Begin to understand the fundamental elements of photography.

  • Learn to interact effectively and respectfully with people they are photographing.

  • Upload and organize photographs to make them accessible for their classmates and teacher.

Part 1: Introduction to the Elements of Photography – 15 minutes

Students will begin learning the elements of photography via a video, a teacher-led lesson with an accompanying slideshow, or a presentation by a local photographer. This is the prelude to the students beginning to make photos themselves.

  • Video: Show the Photography as Storytelling video, which uses Everyday Africa photographs to teach the elements of photography, particularly as they relate to telling a story.

  • Teacher-led: Lead the class through the Photography as Storytelling slideshow, which covers the same ground as the video. You’ll find some basic information with each image in the slideshow — keep the descriptions of each photo brief.

  • Local photographer: If you’ve invited a local photographer to lead this lesson, they can use the same slideshow if they wish. Build in another 10-15 minutes to allow them to add their own thoughts on each element of photography that’s presented.

These elements of photography are also described in this Student Handout. While the handout does not have visual examples, it may be a useful resource for students to keep on hand when thinking about their own photography.


❖ Teacher Notes

❖ Part of your job is to inspire them. If you are a professional photographer who is a guest speaker in this class, talk a bit about your career, how you got started, what your job is like, why you entered this field, etc.
❖ Occasionally in your presentation, ask students to identify elements of the photograph you’re showing. That is, once you’ve covered “distance” or “angle,” you can ask for students to identify those aspects of any photograph you’re viewing as a class.
❖ Students frequently assume that photographers are able to arrive at a scene and magically get the perfect photo right away. Of course this isn’t how it works at all. Stress the importance of making a lot of photos, patience, and thinking about the scene in various ways. Don’t show up, make one photo, and leave — instead, start photographing so that you don’t miss the action, but keep repositioning yourself for a better, cleaner photo. Keep thinking as you photograph, but photograph a lot so that later you’ll have a lot to choose from.


★ Check-In

Use an Exit Slip (half sheet of paper) to have each student write three or more elements of photography they learned. They can either turn this in to the teacher or quickly change slips with a partner and peer grade, turning the graded sheet into the teacher upon completion.


Part 2: Interacting with the People in your Photographs – 20 minutes

Photos of Lagos and Osun State (center image), Nigeria by Yagazie Emezi

Step 1: A big part of learning how to photograph people well is learning how to interact with those people. First we’ll watch a video and/or hear from your guest speaker for tips on how to approach people you wish to photograph.

Have the students watch the video Photographing with Yagazie Emezi, and/or have your guest speaker give a short presentation on how to approach people and ask to photograph them.


❖ Teacher Notes

❖ This video is short — 4:27 — so you should have time for the video and a guest’s presentation.
❖ Talk about the difference between making a candid photograph and making a portrait of someone, as it relates to approaching people. If there is a moment happening that you don’t want to miss, you can photograph it, but you should still approach the people in the photograph afterwards and tell them you photographed them for your class. This is different from a portrait, for which you would first discuss the image with the subject of the photo, and even plan together how they would like to be portrayed.
❖ Touch on some of the lessons from Yagazie’s video:

  • Approach people as you would want to be approached.
  • Don’t be afraid to stay in one place for a long time in order to get one good photo.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover; approach people without preconceived notions.
  • Get the name and contact information/Instagram details of the person you photograph, in case later you need to contact them for any details that you may have missed. Make sure you get the correct spelling of their name! 

Step 2. Now it’s time to begin putting some of these lessons into practice. We’ll do this through a portrait exercise and some role-playing.

1. Because of the constraints of being in a classroom, the easiest way to get going with your students is to start them off with a portrait exercise. Divide the class into small groups of four students or so, and spread them around the classroom, so that each group has its own background — maybe one group is at the whiteboard, one is near a wall map, one is next to a window, etc.


❖ Teacher Notes

❖ Of course this is when the students will need cameras! As mentioned above, mobile phone cameras are encouraged (and the students may already be adept at how to use them), but if you have access to other digital cameras, that’s fine too.
❖ If using a batch of digital cameras, make sure to create a system of assigning the cameras to students. It’s also a good idea to walk them through the basics of how to use the camera, as many students will have never used one. Be sure to underscore the importance of using the camera’s wrist or neck strap so that none of them are dropped and broken!


★ Check-In

Use a checklist with student names to informally assess students interacting with each other effectively and respectfully.

2. There isn’t much time, so the students need to work quickly. Have them trade off between being the photographer and the person being photographed. The seemingly straightforward exercise of making someone’s portrait is actually quite tricky, no matter which side of the camera you’re on — encourage the students to try and do something different from what might pass as a yearbook photo or a snapshot prompted by the photographer saying “smile!”

3. If there’s time, an optional next step is to prepare the students to photograph strangers, as we see Yagazie do in Nairobi in her video. Ultimately we want the students going out into their own community to photograph people — to prepare for this, your students first need to role play with one another to get comfortable with the process. Have the students pair off and follow the script on the Lesson 2 Activity document.


❖ Teacher Notes

❖ You may not have time in the class session to get to this exercise. If that’s the case, have them do the role-playing as homework. The hope is that they’ll consider this fun, and so it won’t be a burden as homework — and it’s a great way to involve their families.
❖ This can be a good starting point for the next class, to discuss how their role-playing homework went. And don’t forget to ask them about the photos they made — getting to the point where they’re making good photos is the whole point!
❖ The students can branch out from the partners they had in the classroom — perhaps they want to photograph members of their family, or their neighbors, or other friends. They should have fun with it!


★ Check-In

Have students answer the two reflection questions at the bottom of the Lesson 2 Activity document.


Part 3: Uploading and Organizing Your Photos – 10 minutes

Photo of Lagos, Nigeria by Andrew Esiebo; Accra, Ghana by Nana Kofi Acquah; and Monrovia, Liberia by Ricci Shryock

Step 1. It’s important to establish a structure/plan to upload and organize students’ photographs. Without a simple plan in place that is followed by everyone, things can quickly become chaotic and confusing, making it nearly impossible to keep everyone’s photos straight.

1. There’s no right or wrong way to do this — you can use Google Drive, Dropbox, or any other file-sharing system you’re familiar with. Keep in mind that using Airdrop or any other method at the beginning of class will eat up a lot of class time — ideally the students should have already sent their images to you before class begins.

2. You may want to consider creating a dedicated email address through which students can send you their photos — something like “everyday_nameofschool@gmail.com”

3. Regardless of the method used to collect images, it will be helpful to organize everything in folders something like this:
Folder: “NameOfProject”
Within that, folders with each student’s name: “Firstname_Lastname”
Within that, every time the student or teacher adds more photos, first create a folder with the date the photos were madeshot: “daymonthyear” (ie “01012020”) — then if there were multiple assignments each day, you can add more subfolders: Assignment1, Assignment2, etc.

Step 2. Use the photos the students made today to guide them through the process of uploading/organizing.

1. Decide whether or not the students will be emailing you photos or uploading them to folders on their own.

2. Have them each upload the best photo or two from their portrait / role-play assignment. These images will be the starting point for Lesson 3.


photo next -> 5 minutes

At this point, your students should be ready to start making photos outside of the classroom. From this point, up until Lesson 7, each lesson will start with a “Photo Review” section, and end with a “Photo Next” section. Photo Review will be used to check your students’ progress making photos as they build their Everyday project, and Photo Next will give suggestions on what they could photograph next.

For this first Photo Next, encourage your students to continue making photos at home, working with friends and/or family. This could be a continuation of the role-play and portrait exercise, accomplished with a family member instead of a classmate — or it might be their first try with these exercises, if there wasn’t time to do them in class. Encourage your students to keep in mind the different elements of photography that they have just learned and experiment with lighting, angle, distance, and other elements of composition as they make these portraits.

Make sure your students send you their best photos ahead of time, using whatever method you have decided on.


This curriculum is produced by Everyday Projects, and presented in partnership with PhotoWings.