As educators, whatever the grade level or subject area, we must deal with students who are exposed to a complex media rich culture. This media rich culture drives business, politics, news distribution, entertainment, and cultural values and norms. To assist our students in navigating this array of media and the messages they convey, we must build our own media literacy skills and effectively impart those skills to our students.
Consider this, the image has become the central focus in media literacy. You cannot discuss the topic of toys without discussing toy packaging and the presentation of toys in commercials; you cannot discuss the topic of music without talking about the music video or the staged concert or the constructed “character-image” of the singer-artist. These visual elements of various media are based on the codes and conventions of the medium of photography.
In order to either interpret or compose a photograph/image there must be an understanding these codes and conventions – camera angles and camera-subject distance, as well as the relationship between foreground and background content in pictures. To deconstruct images and compose photographs the individual must be aware of the three types of photographs used to create illusion and reality in media.
The handout (PDF) Codes-and-Convention_Photography provides examples and explanations to assist in both deconstructing and composing an image/photograph.
Reading Photographs_Intro handout (PDF) provides students with a series of questions to guide them through the process of analysis of a photograph.