Learn How to Take Pictures

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11828

Click. Snap. Selfie. Whee. Your photo's frozen a moment in time. Would you like to make the best of that photo? Learn the simple steps that make memorable moments into memorable photographic artwork!


History, Visual Arts

Fine Arts
learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


With the rise of the smartphone, people take and share more photos than ever. Most of the time, they use their camera to commemorate a special moment or to update their selfie, but don't think much about the art of photography.

  • What qualities make a good photo, not just a snapshot?

Photography serves a practical function, and that is to enable us to share important or amusing moments with friends and family.

They also help us remember important events and people in our lives. Like nearly everything else that deals with the eyes, people have turned photography into a fine art form. Great photographers like Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and others helped establish photography as a legitimate art form in its own right in the early 20th century.

Those people would have been shocked to see a camera in nearly every pocket, with the rise of the modern cell phone. After viewing Snapchat or Instagram for just a few minutes, they almost certainly would want everyone to learn just a few basics about how to take a good photo! There are, however, some amazing photos taken with simple cell phone cameras. Let's take a look at a few just to prove what kinds of photos can be created with very basic tools.

Browse this article, 395 Photos That Prove Cellphones Make Great Cameras, by Mark Wilson, courtesy of Gizmodo Media Group. As you browse, select the five photos you think are the best. Then do some analysis, and write down notes on the following for each:

  • What is the subject of the photo? In other words, what object or person was the photographer focused on?
  • How did the photographer frame the subject? Was it off to one side or another, or was it directly in the center of the frame?
  • Describe the lighting of the image. Was it very brightly lit, or mostly dark? Was there a mix of light and shadows?
  • What makes the photo or its subject interesting to you?

Write down your responses and share your findings and the photos that inspired them with your parent or teacher. Then, reflect on the following questions and discuss:

  • What makes an interesting photo?
  • What makes a photo artistic ?
  • What do you think it takes to become a good photographer?

The ease with which we can take pictures these days has resulted in a lot of low-quality photos. Learning a few basic principles, however, can turn an ordinary cell phone into a tool for great art!

In the Got It? section, learn some of the guidelines for transforming picture-taking from awful to awesome!

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