Photographs can tell us about times and places where we have not been or remind us of details we may not have noticed in a given moment. A photographer, like any artist, can bring his or her own point of view into their work by choosing the setting, re-positioning their subject, and even choosing the lighting conditions in which they shoot the picture. All of these choices influence how we see what the photographer wants us to see.
In this lesson, students will use photographs to learn about Jewish life in the former Soviet Union.
Watch the slideshow as a class, then discuss the details. Pick one image or examine them as a collection.
- What components of the images stand out?
- Do you see signs of weakness or strength?
- Do the images appear posed?
- Are there details in the images that tell more of the story?
- Which elements bring up new questions?
Then reflect together using one or more of the prompts below:
- Become a journalist and come up with a headline about the scene
- Ask students to write about the scene, describing what they think happened just before the picture was taken and what they think will happen next.
- Have students write a monologue from the point of view of one of the people in the photograph.
- Have students paste a photocopy of the image in the center of a piece of white paper and ask them to draw what they think is happening outside the frame of the photo.
- Have students assume the physical positions of the figures in the photograph and then ask them to act out the scene.
- After listing the students’ subjective observations, ask them to create poems about the photo, using the language of their observations. Have students share their work and discuss the relationship between visual art and poetry.
- Make a photocopy of the image along with thought-bubbles above the heads of some of the figures. Have students fill in the bubbles with what they think the subjects of the photograph are thinking.
- Have students create a soundtrack for the image, or a “musical collage,” by editing music clips into a medley that expresses something about the photo.
Wrap up: Ask a few students to share their work with the rest of the class.