Photojournalism Course Outline

Instructor: Greg Keller

*This page is meant to be an outline of the basic course taught at Lincoln High School.
The course may be modified, and details may be changed by the instructor at any time during the semester.

Photojournalism is a course designed to introduce students to the basic principles of photography and to provide them with opportunities to apply those skills to the more specific practice of journalistic photography. Although the class will cover core concepts associated with traditional SLR and print photography, (composition, focus, exposure, etc.) the student’s practical experience will be exclusively with digital photography and its applications to the field of journalism.

Film photography in the world of photojournalism is all but completely gone. In the majority of newsrooms of all sizes across the country photography for print and/or online publication is 100% digital. With the advances in imaging technology, today’s digital cameras equal (and in some cases surpass) the quality of 35mm film. The versatility of the cameras and the speed at which an image may be produced and printed make it the standard for today’s photojournalist. The photos students take during the school year may appear in the school publications or on the Advocate website.

There is no prerequisite for this class, and it is open to experienced and beginning photographers alike. All photographic and computer equipment will be provided by the school, and cameras may be checked out for specific purposes such as covering events for the school newspaper or yearbook. Photos for all other assignments, however, will be taken in on the school grounds during the school day.
This class fulfills a technology requirement for graduation credit.

Target Skills/Objectives:
Students will be able to:

-Recognize basic photography principles in the work of professionals
-Recognize and utilize basic photography principles in their own work
-Set the camera properly to produce desired photographic effects
-Take photographs that have news value for the purpose of journalistic publication
-Gather information from the people photographed: name, grade, job title, etc.
-Write captions for all of their photos using correct journalistic form
-Correctly batch rename and caption photos using Photo Mechanic
-Write a story and captions for a photo essay
-Convert photos for print/web using Adobe Photoshop
-Design and create web pages, including a Portfolio, using Adobe Dreamweaver
-Place photos in layouts for print using Adobe InDesign
-Meet deadlines for all assignments
-Resubmit assignments until a satisfactory grade is achieved

Because the Lincoln Public Schools website is open to the internet public, and because we are now searchable on the web, security and privacy have become issues. To ensure that only authorized persons are able to access the site, since it may contain photos of students, the Photojournalism portion of the website will be password protected.

These are suggested assignments which demonstrate basic functions of the camera and illustrate practical applications for journalism. They may be altered, substituted or eliminated by the individual instructor. The assignments emphasize the student’s ability to manipulate the camera to produce desired effects, interaction with people, and taking photos for publication. Students will be assigned specific areas/subjects to cover for individual assignments and for overall coverage over the course of the semester.

All photos should have clear journalistic value. (e.g. they must be photos that could reasonably be used in the Newspaper or Yearbook.) Please avoid photos of trash cans, exit signs, clocks, etc. Also no photos of children or animals unless they are doing something really newsworthy. All photos should be of people outside of class, except for the Student Portrait assignment.


Cropping/Composition – Submit two versions of the same photo – one full frame and one cropped to improve composition and aesthetics. (2 photos) Before & After crop. Photos should be good examples of the Rule of Thirds.
COB (Cut Out Background) – Use Photoshop to select a person from a photo and remove the background, blur the background, and place the person in another image.
Stopped Action (Sports Assignment) – Manipulate shutter speed to freeze the action of a moving subject.
Depth of Field (Portrait Assignment) – Manipulate aperture/distance to the subject to cause the background to appear in and out of focus.(2 photos)
Special Effect – Create an interesting visual effect (blur, filter, time exposure, etc.) by either manipulating the camera settings or using Photoshop Elements. Include both original and manipulated versions. (2 photos) Include description of process used.

Student Portrait
– Submit posed portrait photos of a Photojournalism classmate. The image should be along the lines of what senior portraits look like (not a mug shot). The subject should be posed naturally with appropriate lighting and composition. Get basic facts from the subject including name, grade, and any other interesting information.
Fashion  Take photos of students and staff that appropriately demonstrate their particular style including clothing, hair style, accessories, tattoos, piercings, etc.
Feature – Capture images of interest to a general audience. (10 Photos) The photos should be of (or including) people. No photos of just objects unless it’s construction related. Subjects should NOT be posed. You should capture them doing what they are naturally doing.
Opinion Feature – Using the video setting on your camera, take a short video of 5 different people answering a question. One of the people needs to be a staff member. Try to get a variety of people to respond – males, females, all grades, various races and opinions.
Staff Environmental Portrait – Take a photo of a faculty or staff member posing naturally (with appropriate lighting composition) in her/his natural environment at school. The environment should tell something about the person. Get basic facts from the subject including full name, job title, and any other interesting information.
Person at Work – Take a photo of someone in the school building actively doing her/his job. The person’s specific job must be identifiable by looking at the photo and they should NOT be posed.
Sports – Take photos of a school sport. (2 photos – High Action/Low Action). The High Action photo should be of the players actively involved in playing the sport. The Low Action photo should be of players/coaches not actively playing. Example: huddles, stretching before the game, coach shouting from sidelines, etc.
Photo Illustration – Given a specific topic, the student must illustrate it either by physically setting up a photo or by digital manipulation.
Video News Package – Interview people, film various types of shots, and edit the video into a two-minute video news package.

Photos for Publication:

Advocate Photo – You will be assigned a specific photo to take that will accompany a story in the last issue of the Lincoln High Advocate newspaper.
Photo Essay
– Create a photo essay (a collection of at least 5 photos) that tells a coherent story about a single person/event/issue/concept, etc. The Photo Essay will include captions for all photos and a story of approximately 500 words. It will be laid out using Adobe InDesign and printed for display.
Portfolio – The student will create a collection of her/his best 10 best photos from the semester and place them on web pages. The photos should include complete captions and may or may not consist of photos turned in for assignments.
Website – Students will design and create their own web pages which will include all of their assignments for the semester including their portfolios and photo essays. The website itself will be evaluated on the basis of completeness, functionality, and aesthetic appeal.

Students will take a small number of quizzes and tests in order to assess understanding of terminology and principles. They may also be required to pass a performance test of basic practices such as downloading photos to a computer, adjusting camera settings, etc.

In addition to tests and quizzes, the majority of the student’s grade will be based on her/his ability to create photographs that demonstrate their understanding of the principles introduced in class. Students will submit assignments by placing them on the pages of their individual websites. Assignments will be graded on a variety of specific criteria depending on the requirements for the assignment and on the organization and formatting of images.

The student’s semester grade will be determined by the percentage of the total possible points earned throughout the quarter/semester. Adherence to classroom procedures and expectations may also effect the student’s final grade. Semester grades are not necessarily an average of quarter grades.

Students will be able to resubmit the first five assignments to improve their grade, but only if the original deadline for the assignment was met. For example, a student who submits a photograph which didn’t turn out well may resubmit another photograph to replace it, and the higher score will be recorded. However, a student who misses the original deadline for an assignment (without an approved excuse*) may not resubmit it, and that missed assignment will receive a zero. The student has one week to resubmit assignments. *Approved excuses include illness accompanied by a doctor’s note, or prior permission from instructor.

The instructor may require a student to resubmit (a) particular assignment(s).

Plagiarism will result in an automatic F for the semester
and removal from class.

Classroom Behavior/Use of Class Time:
When you are out on assignment, it is my expectation that you are on your best behavior at all times. Be courteous to staff members. Be only where you are supposed to be. Do only what you are supposed to be doing.

If you are found in a location other than where you are supposed to be, or if you are observed doing something that you’re not supposed to be doing, you will be dealt with severely. You may even be removed from the class.

When you are out of the room I need to trust you. Please earn that trust by doing your work to the best of your ability.

When you are working in the classroom, it is my expectation that you work quietly on your assignments wthout disrupting the class.

Use of equipment: 
Students are expected to use the cameras and equipment with the greatest of care at all times. Students and Parents/Guardians must sign an Equipment Responsibility Agreement before the student is allowed to use the cameras. Students are also expected to return checked-out equipment before school on the day after they have checked it out.
Click here to see a copy of the agreement.

Making Deadlines:
Since deadlines are a major part of any area of journalism, students will be expected to make specific deadlines for all assignments. Missed deadlines will result in a loss of points. Students will submit their assignments by placing the photos in the correct format on their web pages. The pages will then be uploaded by the instructor to the live website and evaluated from there. The photos should be placed in the appropriate location on the site, in the correct format, and all links should function properly to be considered on time. Every photo submitted must also contain File Information (in Photoshop go to File and select File Info) embedded in the image including Title, Author, and Caption information.