There are a number of ways you can incorporate critique sessions into your photojournalism classroom.
• Project student photos onto a Smartboard or whiteboard and discuss each image as a class. When a student’s photo appears on the board, that student explains the assignment, the circumstances behind the image, and the strengths and weaknesses of that image, both for its technical qualities and its visual rhetoric.
• Students print out their best photos or display them at their computer and then gather in small discussion groups.
• Students critique each other’s work online, through a classroom-sanctioned chat board. Here’s an example:
Use Edmodo to start a critique session
Edmodo is a platform for a digital classroom, free to use and a great way for students, teachers and parents to connect and collaborate. I learned about it a few years ago.
Feel free to join my Edmodo discussion group:
Student Critiques – Photos With Impact
Another option is to start your own Edublog using the WordPress platform. It’s free and easy to learn. You can give students access to the blog to add their comments, and you can moderate the content.
Examples of student critiques from visits to classrooms for my master’s degree research:
This yearbook student at Paradise Valley High School critiques her own swimming shot: “It’s hard to plan a sports shot. You shoot as much as you can and hope to catch the right moment.” She likes the stop motion of the splash and the fact the swimmer is recognizable, despite his goggles. She cropped it in the computer to employ the rule of thirds.
This shot by Madison at Horizon High School captures a moment in the school’s production of “Seussical.” Madison says she purposely waited for the actor to lower his arm so that she could get a profile of his face, and that she likes the added interest of the lens flare. One of her self-critiques is not framing the photo to get more of the actors’ bodies.
Also from “Seussical” is John’s photo, which he likes for the actors’ facial expressions and for the sense of movement. He employed the rule of thirds and likes how the black background eliminates distraction from the relationship between the two actors. His self-critique is that he could have cropped the image in the camera a bit differently, yet still have kept it a horizontal one, to get a sense of the stage.
Alyssa, an advanced video production student at Paradise Valley H.S., discusses the visual rhetoric of this still image, part of a film project in which the actor needed to convey loneliness and trepidation in an imagined dystopian future.
Rachel describes how pleased she is with this shot of her favorite math teacher (right) caught in conversation. Usually he just poses for photos whenever yearbook staff members approach him, she says. Here, Rachel gives the image an eye-catching setting — a backlit building behind her subjects and the silhouette of a desert tree.