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Managing equipment and collaborating with reporters


During this lesson, students will address the question, “If I were in charge of the photography section of a publications lab, what would the photo gathering process look like?”  Students will see examples and evaluate the positives and negatives of different systems for planning photography, communicating with writers, working with the Maestro process and checking equipment out and in.


  • Students will think critically about what an equipment checkout policy needs to address.
  • Students will learn how to work with a writer to develop specific needs and ideas when it comes to planning photos.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.IT.9-10.7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


Two 45-minute classes


Video: “Camera Checkout Procedures” from Whitney High School

Class set: Developing an equipment checkout procedure handout

Class set: Photography planning sheet

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1 — Developing a checkout/in procedure; tips for photographers

1. Think/pair/share — 10 minutes

Have students Think/Pair/Share to answer the following question: what are the important areas of concern when it comes to checking photography equipment out to students? What procedures does a checkout policy need to address?

Students may mention: security of equipment, what classroom storage is available, a sign-out-sheet, a contract where students agree to take care of equipment, who uploads the photos or clears the memory card, how to check out a camera with multiple lenses, etc.

2. Video — 10 minutes

Watch sample video from Whitney High School. Instruct students to watch this video and pay particular attention to the parts of this policy that would or wouldn’t work for their high school publications room. Then, discuss.

3. Brainstorm — 20 minutes

Working with a partner, have students brainstorm their own equipment checkout process.  They should complete the worksheet entitled “Developing an Equipment Checkout Procedure.”

4. Debrief — 5 minutes

Ask students to share what they learned today about developing a checkout procedure. If students in this classroom already know the checkout procedure of your publication, you can ask them to evaluate the current procedure as a homework assignment.

5. Homework

Give students this scenario: You are a photographer for the community newspaper, which has decided to write a feature article about high school academics.  Between right now and class time tomorrow, your job as photographer is to take a photo for the article.

NOTE: This is intentionally not enough information. Students will probably ask questions, but do not answer any of them – ONLY give them the information that is listed above.

Day 2 — Communicating with writers & photo planning

1. Homework review — 5 minutes

Working in groups of 3 or 4 students, have students share the photos that they took for their homework assignment (the feature article about high school academics).  Ask them to discuss what similarities & differences they see.

2. Discussion — 5 minutes

Discuss as a class: What was your experience like when taking the photo?  Were there any really unique photos that you saw in your group?  What challenges did you face when it came to taking your photo?

3. Evaluations — 10 minutes

In the same groups, ask students to evaluate the appropriateness of their photo given many different foci for the feature story. For instance, if the story was about the rising number of students sleeping in class, does that fit any of the photos you took? What about an increase in science lab classes at the high school? Or the importance of project-based learning over traditional lecture classes?

Explain: a general photo of students sitting in a classroom doesn’t really fit most stories about high school academics, nor does it appropriately tell a story.  And yet, that is exactly what many high school photographers do when they take photos for their publications – they get the “idea’ of the story (like “high school academics” or “boys’ soccer”) and then they haphazardly show up in a classroom or on a soccer field to take a photo.  Then, both the photographer and the writer get frustrated that the photo doesn’t work.

4. Activity — 15 minutes

Working in partners, have students complete a “Photography Planning Sheet” for a fictitious story idea (go ahead and use the example “high school academics” if you’d like).  Before thinking about photo ideas, though, students need to develop a focus for their story in order to decide how a photo can best communicate a clear story.  Give them time to complete the sheet, and instruct them to give as much detail as possible about the type of photo they would take and what strategies and techniques they would use.

5. Share — 10 minutes

Have each group trade their photo planning sheet with another group.  After spending 2-3 minutes reading over the information, ask for volunteers to share exciting or cool examples of photo ideas that students had for their fictitious stories.  Students can turn in their handout for a grade or keep it for future inspiration.