Foundational Photography Skills

No matter what type of camera a student has, this lesson plan series will teach them the basics of photography as a set of skills. From composition to light to perspective, students will learn the principles of the medium to inform how they “read” photographs and to enable them to hone their creative practice.

Unit 1 - Lessons FP


What makes a photograph visually compelling? How does one take a photograph with an interesting composition? What is composition? This lesson guides students through the basic elements of composition in photography focusing on the rule of thirds and the elements of visual art while focusing on four significant photography examples.


Students will explore three compositional techniques that can be used when experimenting with perspective in photography. They will explore photographs that utilize perspective in innovative ways and will then create three photographs where they reimagine ways they can frame an image.


This lesson guides students to explore color in photography by briefly reviewing foundational color theory principles and examples. Students will be instructed to create four images, one with warm colors, one with cool colors, one with complementary colors, along with an image that is intentionally black and white.


This lesson will introduce students to photography lighting techniques. Students will be instructed to create four photographs that incorporate the following lighting techniques: hard light, soft light, golden hour light, and back lighting.


This lesson explores scale in photography. Students will create three photographs that explore techniques of scale: leading lines, diminishing effect, and depth of field. Then, students will be encouraged to digitally enhance images of their choosing from this lesson or prior lesson assignments in preparation for curating a body of work.