Course Description, Overview, & UBD Framework

Course Description

The Digital Photography course is designed to be an introduction to the aesthetic and technical theories of photography. Students learn the basics of using a digital single lens reflex camera and the technical components of photography. They work on developing a critical eye for composing photographs, as well as explore how to post-process their work in Adobe Photoshop. Using project-based assignments, students photograph and edit, collaborate, review and critiquing each others’ images.

A strong emphasis is placed on experimentation, exploration, and how to use photography as a form of creative expression. The class focuses on answering the question of how to develop a critical eye and evolve from picture takers into image makers, as well as what makes a successful photograph.


Unit 1: Camera Basics and Photography as a Visual Language

Understanding camera basics: aperture, shutter speed, depth of field, focal points and exposure. Exploring techniques in taking photographs and the effects of perspective and angle while shooting. Beginning to explore post-production in Photoshop.

Unit 2: Composition using Black & White Photography

What is composition? An introduction to composition fundamentals; balance, point of view, lines, shapes, repetition, rules of threes, perspective, and symmetry. An emphasis on looking vs. seeing, using black and white photography to see tone, line and form. Using focal length, camera position, and depth in your photographs. The use Photoshop to enhance and change your composition.

Unit 3: Light

How do we capture and shape light? Direction & finding light, shadows and negative space, using exposure, and how to light a subject with reflectors and flash. Post-production techniques to change and enhance exposure.

Unit 4: Color

The basics of color and color composition. The fundamentals of color theory and exploring purposeful usage of color.

Unit 5: Individual Projects

Utilizing all that has been learned over the course of this trimester, students will be working on an individual project to create a series of photographs that is a cohesive body of work. Each student will present their portfolio to the class for a critique session.

Understanding By Design Framework

Essential Questions

  • What is photography?

  • Why is photography art?

  • What makes a photograph meaningful?

  • How can we develop a critical eye and evolve from picture takers into image makers?

  • What makes a successful photograph?

  • How are images used as a visual language?

Enduring Understandings

  • Students will know the basic functions of a camera.

  • Students will know the basic elements of composition, light, and color.

  • Students will understand that color, form, and composition are used to create meaning.


  • Use of a DSLR camera

  • Use of tripods, flash, and reflectors in photography

  • Basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop

Transfer Goals

  • Students will develop the ability to discuss and critique photography.

  • Students will be able to create work that utilizes the principles of photography to express meaning.


  • Students will understand how to actively participate in the creative process

  • Students will learn the workflow involved in photography shoot

  • Students will understand the terminology of photography

  • Students will understand basic color theory