Everyday Projects Curriculum Lesson 3

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.L.3: Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.3: Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.1.A: Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.1.D: Acknowledge new information expressed by others and, when warranted, modify their own views.

Teacher Preparation


Students will explore different forms of photography to establish a working definition of photojournalism. We’ll start with a quick review of the work they’ve done so far, followed by a discussion of various types of photography. This is a prelude to an examination of local examples of photojournalism, all heading toward the students being able to articulate what kind of photographic project they wish to create as part of this program.

  1. To prepare for reviewing student work, look through the photography they have submitted as part of their Photo Next assignment from last class. Select a few photos that feel like good examples of the elements of photography they have learned, and select a few that could use some constructive feedback, i.e., "this is a nice picture, but the lighting could be stronger."
  2. Teachers should prepare some examples of photojournalism from local news sources. It would be best if these examples covered several kinds of photojournalism, such as news/events, documentary, street photography, and portraits. These different types of photojournalism are defined in Part 1 of the lesson. You’ll use the images in Part 2.
  3. There is a lot of material in this lesson, and it’s possible that you won’t be able to fit it into one classroom session. To help save time, teachers should read the definitions of different types of photography (outlined below in the lesson), and make sure they are comfortable with these terms ahead of time.
  4. Before having your students look at local news sources, you may want to briefly go over a few tips for students to identify reliable sources for news. This is a complicated topic. We've put together this resource that you can look at and decide if it is useful for you and your class.

Online Media:

Lesson 3: Understanding Photojournalism and Becoming a Photojournalist

Length: 60 min
Learning Objectives Students will:

  • Define and gain an understanding of photojournalism

  • Recognize different types of photography and photojournalism

  • Analyze local journalism in their communities

  • Begin to formulate what their own projects will be

  • Compose an artist or project statement

-> Photo review – 5 minutes

Your students should now be making photos outside of the classroom. From this point, begin each lesson with a Photo Review to briefly give some feedback to your students. There will be opportunities for deeper review, including peer review, later on.

Have a few examples of student work ready to show the class – both some very strong examples, and a few that need work. Depending on the size of your class, don’t feel that you need to show one photo per student. These reviews are a chance to give the class overall some encouragement and to show them what they can learn from each other’s work. If you have started an Instagram feed for your class project, another option is to choose one or more student photos and post them before the start of each class, and then explain your selections to your students.

Part 1: what is photojournalism? – 20 minutes

Photo of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo by Jana Ašenbrennerová, (documentary photography); Dar es Salaam, Tanzania by Edward Echwalu, (street photography); and Lagos, Nigeria by Tom Saater, (a portrait used to illustrate a news story).

Now you will examine different kinds of photography with the students. The goal is to make the students understand the differences between, for example, photojournalism and event photography, so that they have an understanding of the kinds of storytelling we’re focusing on in the program.

1. Project the What is Photojournalism? presentation.

2. The slideshow will start by walking the class through the following examples of different types of photography that are not photojournalism:

Portrait Photography: Portraits are used in numerous ways and for many purposes, including family portraits, advertisements, school pictures, magazine covers, at events, and more. They are almost always posed, which means the photographer (sometimes together with the person being photographed) decides how to construct the image, where people should stand, what the background and lighting should be, what facial expressions people should make, etc.

Fashion Photography: Fashion photography is meant to show off a specific style, article of clothing, or accessory.

Fine Art Photography: Fine art photography can mean a range of things, but it generally means photography in which the aesthetic is the most important thing. This can be a landscape or something found in nature, it can be something created in a photo studio or found outdoors, and sometimes it can mean something more conceptual, in which the photographer is using visual elements to get a larger point across.

Advertising Photography: Advertisements are created to entice you to buy certain products, and are generally well-lit and flashy, in an attempt to make that product look as important and powerful as possible.


★ Check-In

Students fold a piece of blank paper so that it has six squares (or use Google Draw). In the first 5 boxes, students quickly draw a basic example of each of the 5 types of photography mentioned. In the last box, they can write which kind is their favorite and why. Do not collect yet if planning to have students complete the next Optional Assessment.

3. Then the slideshow will get into different kinds of photojournalism:

For starters, what is photojournalism? Photojournalism is, at its most basic, the use of photography to tell a story. Photographs can be used to tell news stories, such as the story behind a specific issue or topic affecting people, like global warming or water shortage. They can also be used to document a specific event, like a concert or a basketball game. Or they can tell stories of daily life and more. The photos are almost always unposed, meaning the photographer didn’t direct anyone in the photo to stand a certain way — instead they captured an actual moment as it was happening. (The exception to this is portraiture, which we’ll get into below.) Like all proper journalism, stories told through photojournalism are true stories — that is, they are stories that are based on facts or made with an effort to represent the perspective of one or more people or a group of people.

Different categories of photojournalism:
News Photography: Photographs of a newsworthy event, like a town hall meeting or a politician giving a speech, or photographs of an unexpected event, like a large fire breaking out. You could engage students in a discussion of what is considered “newsworthy” — traditionally things that are new, have a significant impact on many people (or an outsized impact on few people), and are different from normal, everyday events. A common news saying is that it is not news when a dog bites a man, but it is news when a man bites a dog.

Event Photography: Important events can be photographed in a photojournalistic way. These could include sporting events, concerts, parades, celebrations, religious ceremonies, and more. It is important to note that when a photojournalist covers an event, they still follow the rules of photojournalism and do not pose anything, unlike a photographer who was hired by the people organizing the event, whose job it is to make the event look as good as possible. (An example of this difference: if the event is poorly attended, a photojournalist may show this by stepping back and showing how few people are in the audience, whereas a photographer hired by the organizer to photograph the event will likely focus in closer on the people in attendance, not showing the empty seats.)

Documentary Photography: Documentary photographers chronicle issues that are significant and relevant to history, but unlike news photography, they do not have to be tied to specific newsworthy events. For example, they may photograph one town, city, or neighborhood for a period of several months or even years to show the changes taking place there. Or they may spend time photographing one person – it could be an entrepreneur, athlete, unhoused person, anyone with an interesting story to tell – to show their life and communicate their challenges and hopes to an audience. Or, they may focus on daily life, including photographing a family or a school.

Portraits (used to illustrate a news story): Sometimes, when you are telling a story about a specific person, you simply want to show the reader who that person is. In these cases, you can make a posed portrait of someone that then accompanies a news story. (Note that it should be obvious that the photograph is a portrait. You still cannot set up a completely fake event or action and photograph it.)

Street Photography: Street photography is similar to documentary photography, but is generally less tied to a specific issue or story. It happens when a photographer observes their surroundings and photographs an interesting moment as a result of their observations. While street photography often has the appearance of being a chance encounter (and often it is), sometimes street photography is very carefully planned. For example, in one of the sample Everyday Africa photographs provided, the photographer likely saw the curtain hanging, saw the woman with a similarly patterned dress approaching, and stopped to wait for the exact right moment to make the photograph.

A woman and girl walk past a curtain for sale at Waterside Market in Monrovia, Liberia. by Ricci Shryock


Of course, these categories often overlap, and a single photograph can be defined multiple ways. These are guidelines, useful for helping students understand what sets photojournalism apart from other types of photography, but are not rigid or mutually exclusive categories. A photograph of a politician giving a speech, for example, could easily be described as a news photograph, an event photograph, and a documentary photograph. Students may pick up on this, and you could encourage this conversation.


❖ Teacher Note

In general, the point is to help the students begin to understand what goes into making a photograph that will be used in a journalistic context. This will help them think about how to make their own photographs for this project, as well as help them think critically about the many thousands of images they see every day of their lives.

4. Here’s a quick activity you can do with your class to demonstrate the differences between these forms of photojournalism, and the ways in which they frequently overlap. 

Project the photographs below so that your class can see them. Examine each image as a class. (You can click each one individually to make it fullscreen.) The students should decide which of the above photojournalism categories (News, Events, Documentary, Street Photography, Portraits) each photo fits into and why. Then, click the yellow text to reveal the answers. This activity will likely spark some debate among the students, which will help them understand the different kinds of photojournalism and their uses.

The Ken Fac Troupe march through the streets at the Minstrel Carnival in Athlone, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Charlie Shoemaker / Everyday Africa.

What type of photo is this?

This could be considered Street Photography, Documentary, Event, or even News

A girl competes in a dance competition in Bronx, New York. Photo by Rhynna M. Santos / Everyday Bronx.

What type of photo is this?

Event, Documentary, News

Children and their babysitter play a game of Twister in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Photo by Tasneem Alsultan / Everyday Middle East.

What type of photo is this?

Documentary – even a photograph of your own family can be a documentary photo

A woman walking with an umbrella in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by Orlando Barria / Everyday Latin America + Everyday Dominican Republic.

What type of photo is this?

Street Photography

Quique getting a little shine after his haircut in Bronx, New York. Photo by Rhynna M. Santos / Everyday Bronx.

What type of photo is this?


A girl reading at home in Accra, Ghana. Photo by Nana Kofi Acquah / Everyday Africa.

What type of photo is this?


Biking as the sun sets in Bronx, New York. Photo by Rhynna M. Santos / Everyday Bronx.

What type of photo is this?

Street Photography

Papi exercising his constitutional right to vote in Bronx, New York. Photo by Rhynna M. Santos / Everyday Bronx.

What type of photo is this?

News, Event, Documentary

★ Check-In

On the back of the folded paper used in the previous assessment in this lesson, ask students to answer the following questions: What is photojournalism? What is an example of a photojournalism project?


Part 2: looking at local news – 15 minutes


Now that your students have learned about different kinds of photojournalism, it’s time to see if they can apply what they’ve learned to some local examples. Students will look online for images from local news sources, labeling the images they find according to the various descriptions of photojournalism we went through above, and using the images to begin to think critically about representation as they start to contemplate what they might focus on in their own projects.


1. Have students pair off or work in small groups. They will then look at local news sources online to find local examples of photojournalism. The images could come from high school sports events, a city council meeting, a local court case, a multi-photo spread from a cultural feature in the weekend paper, or any number of other news pieces you might find online.


❖ Teacher Notes

❖ Have the students gather examples by getting screenshots of the photographs they find. Be sure they include the captions in the screenshots.
❖ If students are having trouble finding enough variety in local examples, they can expand their search beyond the local level.
❖ If you're going to use it, this would be a good time to discuss and perhaps handout the Identifying Reliable Sources of Information document that we have prepared as an additional resource.

2. Once students identify a few examples of photojournalism, they will look through them twice. The first time, they will be identifying which category (or categories) of photojournalism each image belongs to, as they did above, in Part 1, with the examples we provided. The second time, they will start to have a deeper conversation about how the images represent their community.

a. Have the students determine what category (or categories) each photo could fit in: News/Events, Documentary, Street Photography, or Portraits.

b. Looking at the images a second time, this time with a more critical eye, students should begin to think about how to apply these lessons to their own projects. Direct them to think about what these examples of local coverage are saying about their community or hometown. Do these photos and news items accurately capture what the students’ lives are like? What is the message delivered about their community through these examples of photojournalism?

3. Ask the class as a whole to discuss what’s missing in these examples of local photojournalism. What’s not being covered or portrayed about their community? What kinds of images aren’t there? What kinds of images could the students make to fill some of these gaps?

A student brainstorm of things to photograph for an Everyday Flint project in Flint, MI.


❖ Teacher Notes

❖ Have the pairs/small groups give some examples to the class from the images they were working with.
❖ This step will get the students to begin transitioning from simply critiquing what they see to a point of action — what photos could they themselves make that would tell a better/more accurate story of their community? How can they improve upon the photojournalism they consume?
❖ As students discuss what they want to photograph to change the coverage of their community, you could make a list on chart paper, a whiteboard, or anywhere that they can continue to think about and add to as a class.


★ Check-In

Was each student able to find a quality photojournalism story? Were they each able to label the article in the correct category/ies (News/Events, Street Photography, Portraits)? A checklist with student names can be used to record this learning check.


Part 3: artist statement – 15 minutes

Photos of Mombasa, Kenya by Yasmyn Ntege (left and center photos) and Genesis Mungufeni (right photo), students in the Everyday Mombasa high school photography workshop.


As mentioned previously, the hope is that this unit will culminate in an exhibition of photography made by the students. There are numerous ways this can happen, and there’s no wrong answer. It will depend to some degree on the size of the class, how much room you might have for an exhibition, and your interest in doing something that can be projected as a slideshow on a wall instead of (or in addition to) a physical exhibition. Your class’s Everyday project might result from having all students photograph a variety of things, or from having each student work on their own personal project based on a theme or activity (sports, music, art, community news/events, etc.). Either way, if each student has one or a few images included in the class’s project at the end of the unit, the result would showcase a range of activities which, taken together, exemplify the everyday life of your school/community. 

No matter how the class decides to proceed, the students will need to craft artist or project statements to describe what they intend to accomplish. Whether individual students decide to photograph their own take on a local news story, focus on a theme, or capture a variety of images of everyday life, an artist statement of their own, as well as for the overall class project, will help them focus their work and communicate their goals to their audience. There will be time to adjust the statements over the next several lessons, so they shouldn’t worry that things might change or evolve as they proceed. They also shouldn’t feel that they are locked into what they decide now — it’s common for ideas to shift as you work on a project based on what you discover as you work. The students should always remain open to new ideas and the possibility of shifting their goals according to what they learn as they go. 

There are many ways of writing an artist statement, but at a minimum, it should include what the artist (in this case, the student individually and the class as a whole) intends to do, and why. What will they photograph? Why are they focusing on this, and why is it important to them?

Students can write their Artist Statements on the Lesson 3 Activity Document. You should keep these to refer back to as the projects evolve.

Sample Artist Statements < click to expand >

From an Everyday Bronx student exhibition: The photographs taken by these students from Immaculate Conception School stand as a statement against the commonly held perceptions of what life is like in the Bronx. Brought together by a workshop created by Everyday Africa, The LAMP, and the Bronx Documentary Center, these students have learned about the dangers of stereotypes and the power of photography. As ambassadors of their borough, they have produced images that are a quiet revelation.

From an Everyday Bedford student exhibition: Through Everyday Bedford we use photography to depict the communities we come from – tracing the lines of our families from old homes to new. We aim to capture the uniqueness of our everyday life, showing the beauty in everyday moments we often fail to notice.

From an Everyday Africa exhibition: The photographers of Everyday Africa seek to transcend long standing stereotypical views of the continent by using Instagram to share moments of daily life with a wide audience in real time. Our work confronts the image of Africa’s past even as it documents the present and looks toward the future.

This is, on the surface, a simple concept. But it has deep impact: for centuries Africa has been imagined falsely — a place of the poor or the exotic, but with no middle ground — and the repercussions of this reverberate in headlines worldwide. Everyday Africa serves to redirect focus onto that which is most constant and most often ignored: the familiar. We seek beauty in the mundane.

We know — in fact, we embrace — that the term “everyday” is loaded. Whose view represents reality? Which “everyday” is valid? The answer is found in an acceptance of photography’s limitations, its partial truths. We can’t pretend that this is a holistic depiction of a continent; the best we can do with these social media tools is to create a barrage, a never-ending stream of images that announces normalcy in many forms.


❖ Teacher Notes

❖ Some students will nail this right away and others will fret over it. No pressure — this does not have to be set in stone right now. But it’s important that they begin the process of figuring out what photographic project they want to work on. This can be adjusted as you go – each student should refine their focus over the next class or so, but the final overall artist statement for each student and for the class’s Everyday project should be decided upon at the end, before launching the exhibition.
❖ Make sure the students understand that the ultimate goal will be to give some kind of presentation of their personal work. Perhaps that will mean a presentation to their class, perhaps their images will be part of a school or community exhibition — the nature of the final product is up to you and the resources you and your school have.
❖ Help the students begin to think about how they will accomplish their goals. Will they be photographing news? Incorporating portraiture?
❖ It may make sense to put your students — or some of them — into pairs, depending on the size of your class and the specific needs of the students.


★ Check-In

Does the artist statement identify what they plan to photograph, why they are focusing on that, and why it is important to them?

photo next -> 5 minutes

It’s time for your students to try out being a photojournalist for the first time. Have them photograph one event as a photojournalist would. This can be a community or school event, and it doesn’t have to be something big. It could be a school football game, or even a practice; it could be something interesting happening in one of their other classes; it could be something they’re doing with their families or in their community over a weekend.

Challenge your students to accomplish two things:

  • Tell the story of that event in one photograph. If they could only tell someone about the event using a single image, through a single moment, what would that photograph be, and can they make that photograph? Maybe it is a key moment, like a team celebrating after a victory. Maybe it is an overview of an event, so that the reader can see what the whole scene looked like.

  • At the same time, don’t let this stop your students from making many photographs of the event. What if, instead of one photograph, they could tell the story through five or ten? What are the different things they can photograph that give a full sense of what the event was like?

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

If you have time – 5 minutes


Show the students the video Photographing with Edward Echwalu. This will give them a sense of how one particular photographer goes about making a photojournalism project. Echwalu is from Uganda, and this video was made in Kenya, so the substance of what he’s saying might sound a bit far afield from your students’ daily lives, but that’s OK — it’s a good opportunity to learn how this is done in other parts of the world.

The video is short — just under three minutes long. After the video, spend just a few minutes asking students: 

  • What is the nature of Edward Echwalu’s photojournalism project?

  • How might Echwalu’s work on this project in Kenya differ from (or be similar to) photojournalism in the United States?

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