Visual Narrative and Photography

Visual narratives are everywhere. They not only reflect but can shape our daily experiences, our thoughts, and even our values. They can present information, demand our attention, and construct our realities. As educators, our call to action is to support students as they discover the types and purposes of visual narratives, the elements that distinguish them, and the tools to effectively construct their own visual narratives. This five-lesson series will focus on the art of storytelling through photography.

Unit 1 - Lessons VN

Introduction to Visual Narratives: Definitions and Purposes

Begin your exploration with a focus on the power and the purposes of visual narratives in photography. The questions for inquiry are: What is a “visual narrative?” and for what purposes do artists create visual narratives?

The “Visuals” in Visual Narratives

Students will identify photography skills that lead to effective visuals. When students learn to analyze the work of other artists, they can begin to incorporate new techniques and ways of expression into their own works.

Imagination and Visual Narrative

Students discuss how the traditional elements of narrative fiction can be found in photography, using examples from the Getty collection. Following discussions of a single photograph and a photo series, students explore imaginative narratives, and practice turning them into visual storyboards.

Information and Visual Narrative

Students will consider the elements of informational text and narrative nonfiction in writing. Then they will analyze how narrative nonfiction elements are found in photography, using examples from the Getty collection Then they will study how photographs that document real situations can become powerful and motivate social activism.

Visuals and Narratives

Students will apply skills gained from previous lessons. They will experiment with purely visual storytelling and move to text-based nonfiction narratives to create a final project. Students can use single or multiple photographs to create a meaningful point of view about the issues most important to them.