Learning English by Doing: Photography

Taking pictures has become really easy with sophisticated digital cameras available for a more than reasonable price and mobiles, especially smart phones, incorporating good quality cameras. And we love to share these pics, that’s partly the reason behind the success of social networks like Facebook, Twitter and the latest craze Pinterest. People want to share all their moments.

And taking a photograph seems to be as easy as to push a button. But is it really that simple? There are certain rules of composition that have to be followed for the photo to be of a decent quality. But, how can we learn about them easily?

The Internet is an amazing source of videos teaching you almost anything you can think of. One of the best websites to find them is Videojug, where you can find thousands of videos of professionals giving you tips on their particular field of expertise (law, driving, cooking, etc) and other videos with a hint of humour explaining the steps to follow in orden to be better at different aspects of life. A very funny example of these kind of surreal videos is The Rules of Pavement Etiquette.

And, of course, there is a video teaching the rules of composition in photography that we were looking for:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The activity is designed to be carried out with students who like social networks and are ready to share personal photos, so it might not be suitable for all groups. The best thing to do with Facebook and students is to create a private group specifically for our lessons, a good way to communicate with those who are connected but without creating the awkward situation of having to “befriend” each other, teacher and studentes, mixing worlds.

Step 1. Post the video in your facebook group. If the level of students is not advanced, help them with vocabulary. Set a deadline for the activity giving students plenty of time to get involved.

Step 2. Students have to take a couple of pictures: one breaking the rules explained in the video and another one following the tips, and post both onto the Facebook group.

Step 3. Everybody writes a comment for each photograph and “likes” the one they consider is well done according to the rules explaining why they believe so.

Step 4. We take the best pictures to class and the authors talk about them.

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