Inside: An examination of the teen-oriented social platform Getty Unshuttered and how its challenges can be used for high school photography lessons. This post is brought to you by WeAreTeachers and Getty Unshuttered.
Our lives were inundated with images long before the internet or smartphones came along. We’re a visual species and we’ve been creating images for as long as we’ve been human, but never before have our lives been so dominated by photographs.
A World of Images
One estimate says we’ve gone from seeing about 500 ads a day back in the 1970’s to as many as 5,000 a day now. And that’s just ads! Spend a few minutes scrolling through Twitter or Facebook and you’ll be above 500 images in no time. Our students spend a significant amount of time looking at screens and every day there are more photo-based apps clamoring for their attention.
The popularity of apps like Instagram and Snapchat have passively educated our students to how photos communicate messages about the world and about themselves. They know that a single photo can make or break a reputation. They’ve seen it happen. The ability to take 20 selfies in 2.5 seconds has awakened them to the storytelling power of photographs. They know how their expression and setting can change the mood and emotion of a photo. They know that others will judge them based on what they show. Our students speak the language of photography, but a lot still gets lost in translation.
Advertisements and memes regularly rely on editing to change the meaning of a photograph. The internet is littered with arguments about the veracity of images because it is getting harder to determine the authenticity of the media we see. In this confusing and often dishonest landscape, I think we art teachers have a responsibility to help our students navigate the world of photography.
That’s where Getty Unshuttered comes in. Getty Unshuttered is a new social platform built specifically for teens. Each week, they introduce a new photography challenge that includes a video of a teenager sharing their own photographs and personal story. The concept introduced in the challenge video is explored further with written tips and explanations.
Teens are encouraged to post their own work in the free Getty Unshuttered app. I love that the photographs in the app can be favorited but not commented upon. We all know how cruel comment sections can be. Eliminating that aspect allows students to share their work free from unnecessary negativity.
High School Photography Lessons
Getty Unshuttered is the perfect tool for high school photography lessons because it pairs a medium that our students are hyper-familiar with and educates them on how it can be shaped and manipulated. By teaching the fundamentals of composition, light, and color, students will better understand why a photograph is good and what makes a photo memorable. Looking at and critiquing artworks inspired by the challenge and created by peers will make it easier for them to dissect the choices the artist made and how those choices impact the final photograph.
Getty Unshuttered can easily be used as the basis for a complete high school photography unit. The lessons will be a hit because they’re hands-on, fun, and incredibly relevant. Each week, you can choose a challenge to share with your classes. After watching the video and going over the written concepts, you can show students photographs that other teens have shared for inspiration and to critique in a controlled setting. Then, you can give students a homework assignment to complete the challenge using their own cameras or smartphones.
Once they’ve paired their knowledge and stories with the fundamental skills lessons available on Getty Unshuttered, students will be more discerning and observant of the images around them and become better artists themselves.
There are several challenges already available on the Getty Unshuttered website, including features on skills like perspective, color, and composition. One of my favorites so far is the Light Challenge.
Getty Unshuttered makes it easy to empower students with the knowledge they need to take great photographs, tell their stories, appreciate the work of their peers, test their skills, and understand the increasingly visual world around them.
This post is brought to you by WeAreTeachers and Getty Unshuttered. While I was compensated for this post, all reviews and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.
I’d love to hear about how you’ll use Getty Unshuttered in your classroom in the comments below!