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10 questions to ask before taking a photo


This lesson will encourage photographers to move away from simple point-and-shoot, selfie-rich photography to making several critical decisions before taking each photo.



  • Students will describe their thought process behind a selected photograph.
  • Students will produce a series of images representing slightly different decisions made.
  • Students will suggest improvements to a photograph.

Common Core State Standards



Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons and evidence.


Develop the topic thoroughly by selecting the most significant and relevant facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.


Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to task, purpose and audience.


Present information, findings and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance and style are appropriate to purpose, audience and a range of formal and informal tasks.


2-3 days (50 minutes each)



Slideshow: “10 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Photo”

Slideshow: “30 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Photo”

Camera with flash

Computer and software to view and modify image metadata

Rubric: “10 Questions”


Lesson step-by-step

Day 1
1. Direct instruction — 30 minutes

Present the “10 Questions” slideshow, pausing as needed for discussion or questions.

2. Application — 20 minutes

Assign student photographers select a photo taken previously. Have them describe in writing their thought process when taking that photo. Their writing should address all 10 questions.


Day 2-3
1. Tap prior knowledge — 5 minutes

To begin class, invite students to share what they recall from the 10 questions lesson. Review briefly as needed.

2. Practice — 60 minutes

Assign a photo shoot to each student. These could be necessary images for publication or practice photos. Students may suggest their own assignment as long as they can demonstrate their thought process behind the photo. Have student photographers explain their thought process in preparation for shooting the assignment by answering the 10 questions. (Note: This requires a bit of advanced planning in order to coordinate activities and/or give students adequate time to photograph their chosen topic. If teachers are open to having students enter their classes for on-the-spot photo shoots, and depending on camera availability, students can shoot during class. If not, the photo shoot may be homework with the next part as an in-class activity on the following class period.)



After shooting the photo assignment, the photographer should submit five images. Choose one of the five photos, or assign an editor to choose one. Assign each photographer to create and share a Google Doc (or similar) and describe or explain their thought process in creating the chosen image using the “10 Questions” set as a guide.



One modification based on ability level or to accommodate students who struggle is to eliminate the second day and ask students to analyze a photo they have already taken. Another option is to pair a beginning or struggling student with an advanced one to photograph and analyze together.

Advanced students can be shown the “30 Questions to Ask” presentation and will analyze their photos using this set of questions for higher level thinking.

In addition, students who need an extension activity can spend another day researching a professional photographer they admire. Invite them to choose a photo and contacting the photographer to ask about their thought process in producing that particular image.