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Photography I: Introduction to Photography

Reservoir High School

Evan La Londe, Instructor

Course Description:

In this course, students will apply the language of art in producing fine art photographs. Primary experiences will concentrate upon the use of a 35mm single lens reflex camera, film processing, darkroom techniques, print manipulation and the presentation of work. Technical skills evolve through the introduction of pinhole photography and contact printing. Experiences throughout the course will include composing, exposing, processing, enlarging images in the darkroom, and basic experiences in digital imaging.

Course Objectives:

1. Identify the use of the Elements of Art and Principles of Design as they appear in the work of master photographers.

2. Practice the appropriate and safe use of photographic equipment, chemistry, and materials.

3. Utilize basic black and white photographic processes including composing, exposing, processing, enlarging images in the darkroom, and matting/presenting photographs.

4. Construct and practice the use of early photographic techniques, including pinhole photography, cliché-verre, photograms. and other alternative processes.

5. Recognize various conceptual approaches used by master photographers for personal and public audiences that elicit emotional/societal responses in the world.

6. Demonstrate the appropriate use of 35mm SLR camera to control exposure.

7. Utilize basic digital imaging equipment and software in the production of photographic works.

8. Employ visual and written critical responses in a personal photographic journal/sketchbook to develop a contextual and historical understanding of photography.

9. Maintain and organize a portfolio of photographic prints and contact sheets neatly and professionally within a 3-ring notebook binder.


All basic photo materials for this class will be provided by the instructor. However, photographic materials that are lost or misused must be replaced at cost by the student. Provided materials will include: 100 sheets of 5x7” photo paper, 25 sheets of 8x10” photo paper, and 10 rolls of B&W film.

Traditionally, the following materials have been required for this class for the organization of negatives, prints, and notes. If students are unable purchase these materials on their own, they may need to make or borrow used ones in class:

9”x 12” spiral or hardbound sketchbook/notebook (students may use an older sketchbook from a previous class) Please, no tape-bound tablets, they will fall apart in a matter of weeks! 3-ring notebook binder with sections (protects and stores all negatives and prints which are easily damaged) (Optional) thumb-drive or disk on key (for saving Photoshop assignments in-progress, not needed until 2 nd semester)


A student is not required to purchase a camera for this class. The photo department at Reservoir is fortunate to have 24 cameras that can be signed out for a period of up to 10 days. However, when learning how to use a camera, it is very beneficial to learn by consistently using the same camera. I highly recommend that all students make an attempt to find a 35 mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR) or rangefinder camera with a MANUAL exposure camera on their own by asking friends, relatives, or family members. Often used cameras can be found online (eBay, KEH, etc.) at a fraction of the cost of being new. Please visit the art department website for more information on how to find/purchase a camera.

Photographic Equipment Expectations:

Because photography requires the use of many expensive, complex equipment and tools, you must treat all tools (cameras, enlargers, filters, darkroom equipment, chemistry, laptop computers, dry-mount press, etc.) with utmost care and respect. Equipment that can be signed out for out-of-school use is used at your discretion. The cost of lost, damaged, or broken cameras, tripods, etc. will be the responsibility of the student who signed out the equipment. Failure to comply with

proper use and responsibility of any or all photographic tools and equipment will result in a phone call home and may result in loss of privileges in signing out or using the equipment.

Photo equipment can be signed out for 5 days, (if one student signs out), or 10 days (if two students team-up). For each day past the date the equipment must be returned, the student will be penalized 5 points of his/her studio skills total for that current unit grade.

Studio Guidelines:

All students are expected to observe and adhere to all policies defined in the Student Agenda Book regarding lateness and conduct. Lateness will not be tolerated. As a studio class, attendance and promptness are critical to the success of the student in Photo I. Students will abide by all darkroom and safety procedures. Students are expected to maintain the studio and darkroom. Students are responsible to be where they are assigned during the class period. Students are expected to participate in all class discussions, critiques, and activities. If a student is late, the following procedures will follow:

1 st Late: Verbal warning

2 nd Late: Lunch detention (with me!)

3 rd Late: After-school or Morning Detention/Conference with student

4 th Late: Disciplinary referral/parent phone call

Assessment and Grading Procedures:

Grading and assessment will take various forms in Photo 1. Since this is an introductory photo class, it’s not expected that every student will become a “master” right away. You will be graded on all parts of your process, with the greatest number of points allotted to how well your final product meets the criteria of the assignment. You will be graded only on your own performance and progress on your individual effort, growth, and improvement-NOT on how your finished work compares to the rest of the class. At the completion of each problem you will assess your own progress through written reflection before submitting the work for a grade.

Students will be assessed by participating in small-group and class critiques, as well as by completing a self-assessment based upon the criteria clearly stated when the assignment is given out. This criteria is based upon several main categories:

Objective – Successfully solving the problem in a unique or elegant way. Critical thinking, brainstorming, and the concepts expressed through the work will be assessed in this category. Studio Skills – Handling/using the photographic tools and equipment in a way that helps effectively communicate the student’s solution to the problem. Studio skills may include actual physical processes like “correctly selecting the right aperture and shutter speed on the camera,” as well as implied skills like “demonstrating correct application of principles of composition.” A student’s management of studio time and care for all classroom studio materials will also be assessed in this category. Craftsmanship / Presentation – Neatness and respect for your work should be evident in the appearance of a completed assignment. This grade addresses overall presentation and physical care for the artwork and materials in all stages, especially when matting final photographic prints. Design The use of the photographic principles of composition to create an elegant, “visual pathway” in a photograph. Consideration of how the arrangement of the subject matter and the overall composition of the photograph helps to clarify the concept or idea behind the work. Most times the sketchbook is the tool used to pre- visualize a strong composition in a photograph.

This system will allow the teacher and the student to evaluate specific strengths and identify areas that need improvement. Grades will be based upon percentages:

A=90-100% B=80-89% C=70-79% D=60-69%


In Photo 1, the bulk of your homework will involve completing shooting assignments. Please plan your time accordingly to complete all shooting assignments on time, especially those students who are borrowing cameras and equipment from the photo department, as other photo students may need to use it as well. In addition to shooting assignments, Photo 1 students will be required to research, critically analyze, and visually/verbally respond to various sketchbook problems that pertain to further understanding the historical events surrounding photographers and their work. It is in the student’s best interest to use their regular class time wisely to complete assignments. If in-class time is not used wisely, more out-of-class work may be the result. Parents can check on all due dates and assignments at any time by logging onto the classroom blog!

Quarterly grade break-down and approximate percentage weights

60%: Classwork Studio time in darkroom/digital lab for completion of all shooting assignments 30%: Homework/Quizzes Homework includes sketchbook and shooting assignments. 10%: Participation during in-progress and final critiques and written self-reflections

Deadlines and Missed Work:

Assignment deadlines are set at the discretion of the instructor when the assignment is given. It is the student’s responsibility to make up any missed work due to excused absences, and to collect daily objectives, handouts, and notes. Students are also responsible for scheduling appointments with the teacher to discuss make-up work. If the student is absent on the day an assignment is due, the assignment should be handed in on the following day.

Late work from unexcused absences or otherwise will not be given full credit. For each day late you submit any assignment (homework and class-work), after the deadline, you will be deducted one letter grade, (or 10%).

Academic Integrity

Each student is responsible for upholding and maintaining academic integrity. If there is a question in reference to a student’s academic integrity, they will be referred to their administrator by way of a disciplinary referral, given due process, and receive the appropriate consequence based on Reservoir High School’s Academic Honor Code. Any violation of academic integrity will impact a student’s eligibility for credit in this course.

Excused/Unexcused Absences & Denial of Credit

According to county-wide policy, students are not to miss more than 5% of any credited class for the entire school year. Missing studio art classes can place a student in a difficult position for making-up work. All students are responsible for making up missed assignments on their own accord. Only students who provide blue notes documenting an excused absence will be given exemption from the daily letter grade penalty. Students are responsible for keeping all necessary blue notes to defend their excused absences.

Reservoir High School Visual Arts Department Syllabus Contract

This syllabus is a contract. By signing below, you and your parents/guardians are acknowledging that you have read the entire Photo 1 course syllabus, and will abide by and support all of its stated policies.

Student signature

Student Name (Printed)

Today’s date

Parent / Guardian Signature

Parent / Guardian Name (Printed)

Today’s Date

I would like to provide an email address that can be consistently used if the instructor needs to contact me regarding my child.

My email address is:

I would like to provide a reliable phone number for which the instructor can use to contact me regarding my child.

My home phone number is:

My work phone number is:


We, the art department are currently in the process of building a school-based visual arts website and documenting student work for art educational research articles. For this purpose, I, the teacher will photograph some of your artwork, students working in class, and use select quotes from students’ reflective statements about their artwork that may be used on this website and publications.

As most of you are under 18 years of age, please ask your parents / guardian to sign below giving permission for documentation of classroom experiences to be used/reproduced in the school based websites and art education publication. (I can publish and post only student work for which parental permission has been granted.) Permission is not required, and this website and research project will in no way affect the assessment and/or grading of student work throughout the year.

I grant permission for the Reservoir Fine Art Department faculty (Evan La Londe, Greg English, and Jennifer Moon) to photograph my child, their artwork, and reflective statements for publication on school-based websites and art education journals.

Parent / Guardian Signature

Parent Name (Printed)

Parents, you can check all classroom activities, assignments, examples, and obtain handouts via the Photo 1 classroom blog at

Please feel free to contact me anytime through email at:!