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Manual DSLR Photography 101 for Teens

Katherine Causbie - Photography
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Explore how to use shutter speed, aperture, and ISO in order to make creative choices and take more compelling photos. Work in a small group to go in-depth into the science and art of manual photography!

Class Experience

US Grade 9 - 12
Beginner - Intermediate Level
5 lessons//5 Weeks
 Week 1
Lesson 1
Introduction to the Camera's Manual Mode (Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO) 📑
Understand the foundational mechanisms of photography, working on manual mode.
 Week 2
Lesson 2
Troubleshooting and Feedback 📑
Review project #1 together and troubleshoot any questions or issues that arose while completing the project.
 Week 3
Lesson 3
Composition 📑
Explore the interaction between form and content, looking at specific techniques to craft visual appeal and guide the viewer's eye through an image in a compelling way.
 Week 4
Lesson 4
Final Project Plans 📑
Learn about setting visual intention: encoding photographs with personally significant message and meaning. Design a final project.
 Week 5
Lesson 5
Final Presentations
Share completed final projects.
  • - Understand the Camera: Learn how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO affect exposure and the appearance of the photograph, and work towards using these settings to make technically sound and creatively compelling photographs.
  • - Engage a Creative Learning Process: Students will be supported in practicing experimentation and embracing the freedom to make mistakes along the way with self compassion and persistence.
  • - Explore Targeted Photography Projects: For each lesson, applying the ideas exploring in class in the most important part of learning photography: taking lots of photos!
  • - Share Their Work: Considering their work with a growth mindset, and speaking about their processes with pride (this process will be very scaffolded, and a growth mindset modeled!).
  • - Talk Like Photographers: Practice the vocabulary and concepts covered in class through a positive, pragmatic discussion of everyone's photos for each project.
  • - See The World Differently: Apply and describe principles of effective photograph composition, learning to see the visual forms of the world around us and “think like a photographer.”
  • - Set Visual Intention: Understand context, and consider how to encoding meaning into photographs by creating a mini-portfolio around a personally-selected visual goal in a final project.
  • - Study the Masters: Expand conceptualization of the creative possibilities of photography, through learning about the work of specific photographers from history.
I hold a BA in Studio Art/Photography and Psychology, and am trained both as a photographer and as a Montessori assistant teacher. As an educator I have experience teaching children pre-K through high school. 
1 - 2 hours per week outside of class
Frequency: 3-6 throughout the class
Feedback: as needed
Details: Photography projects will be assigned each week. Projects are set up to encourage discovery, experimentation, and exploration, and help facilitate the photography learning process of applying what is covered in the lesson. The following class, each student will turn in their work to share and discuss their experience and any questions around the assignment. They will also share positive feedback with each other as a way to practice the language around the new terms and concepts. Small class sizes ensure plenty of 1:1 support and discussion of each student's work.
Frequency: 3-6 throughout the class
Details: Assessment is informal and growth-centered. Learner progress is evaluated through review and discussion of their images using manual photography technique and the terms/ideas from class. Material is cumulative, so assessment is always done for the purpose of clarification and refinement moving forward (rather than memorization or correction).
Letter Grade
Frequency: available upon request
Details: The focus of this class is on exploration and discovery through experimenting with the various skills and techniques. Class is not usually graded, but I can offer a grade if needed for your schooling system based on effort and participation upon request, simply message me (can be before or during class, or any time within a week after class ends).
🖇️ Prerequisite: None

Learners who thrive in this class range from those who have just gotten their cameras, to those who have explored manual mode on their own and want a structure to make sure they're thinking about it all correctly. 
 1 file available upon enrollment
All learners will need: #1 A DSLR camera and lens, or other camera with a manual exposure mode to adjust the settings for aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. (Make sure you have a memory card and battery + charger, too!) #2 The means to upload the photos to a computer, tablet, or cellphone with an internet connection and web browser. For example, with a cable for the camera or a memory card reader. Please make sure your learner can upload photos to the device prior to class, so they are ready to complete your projects and focus on learning how to use their camera. If you are unsure if your camera has a manual exposure mode, you can check the camera instruction manual, or feel free to message me! A film SLR camera could also be used, but the photos must be scanned to digital files, and with developing time learners would have less time to complete the projects each week. Many introductory DSLR cameras are available for relatively low cost used or new. Examples: - Nikon D3400 or D3500 - Nikon D5500 or D5600 - Nikon D7000, D7100, D7200, D7500 - Canon Rebel T8i / 350D - Canon Rebel T7 / 2000D - Canon Rebel T6 / 1300D - Canon Rebel SL3 / 250D - Canon Rebel T100v/ 4000D (Canon camera with lowest recommended retail price) A few old edition options that are still great to get started with learning manual mode on a budget: - Nikon D3000, D3100, D3200, D3300 (old versions of D3500) - Nikon D5000, D5100, D5200, D5300 (old versions of D5600) - Nikon D70s, D70, D80, D90 (old versions of D7000) - Nikon D40, D40x, D50, D60 (old versions of D3000 and D5000 series) - any older Canon Rebel
In addition to the Outschool classroom, this class uses:
Some photographers and/or photo theorists who we learn about may have photography work or analysis that involves nudity and themes of sexuality, much like you might encounter in an exhibit at an art museum or in fashion photography. We will not explore these in class, but there is the possibility that students come upon them during further research. 

External Resources Details:
Padlet is used to submit work, no sign in is required.
Pinterest is used for project inspiration and examples, no sign in is required. 
International Center for Photography Artist Info Pages are used for additional resources, no sign in is required.
Joined May, 2018
Star Educator
Teacher expertise and credentials
Bachelor's Degree in Fine/Studio Arts from Wittenberg University
Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Wittenberg University
🍎 First Outschool class? Welcome, glad you're here! Coupon code KATEC20 will apply a $20 discount on your first class. 

👋 Hello! I am a teacher on Outschool who loves to share artistic photography and human-animal psychology classes! My goal is... 
Group Class


weekly or $130 for 5 classes
1x per week, 5 weeks
60 min

Completed by 209 learners
Live video meetings
Ages: 13-18
3-6 learners per class

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