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Photo organizational systems


In this lesson on developing a strategy and process for organizing large amounts of photos in a newsroom setting, students will spend time pretending that they are the photo editor for their school yearbook.  Then, students will develop a system for processing, storing, organizing, and naming digital photos as they get taken by photographers. Students will share these strategies via a “gallery walk” format with the class, then reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their own strategies.  Teachers who have and utilize Adobe Bridge may also choose to take time during this lesson to share the software with the class.


  • Students will think critically about how to develop a photo organizational system for their high school yearbook.
  • Students will participate in a discussion with their peers and then evaluate and revise their own thoughts on a topic.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.9 Compare and contrast findings presented in a text to those from other sources (including their own experiments), noting when the findings support or contradict previous explanations or accounts.


45 minutes


Construction paper & art supplies

Lesson step-by-step

1. Instructions — 5 minutes

Tell students: Imagine you are the editor, the head honcho for the photography department at your student yearbook.  Every week, you have hundreds of photos being submitted for the publication, and even though, proportionally, very few will make it to the final book, you need to develop a system for organizing, storing, and editing photos.

As a whole class, brainstorm the different things that you need to take into account when developing your policy. (In this step, brainstorm key “things to think about” rather than specific strategies for organization.) Possible list items include:

Unedited v. edited photos

Photos to use for publication v. photos not to use

How to name photos


Location in the publication (issue/section/page#)

When should photos be uploaded

Who is responsible for upload

Who picks the “best” photos & how to tell everyone else

2. Group work — 15-20 minutes

Have students work in partners or groups of three to develop strategies for the ways in which they would organize photos.  They should design a mini-poster that contains a condensed version of their strategy, then hang the mini-poster somewhere in the room.

3. Gallery walk — 5-10 minutes

Students should walk around the room and view all of the other groups’ mini-posters with their photo organizational strategies.

4. Introduction to Bridge software — 10 minutes

If you have the Adobe Creative Suite software, now is a great time to show Adobe Bridge to students.  Bridge is part of the Adobe software and allows users to “find, sort, filter and rename” all photos on a computer.  It also allows users to rename entire groups of photos at once, and it makes photo metadata easy to access/retrieve/view.

**Note: If you don’t have Bridge or don’t want to take the time today to show it to students, just give them more time for working on their posters and the gallery walk.

4. Debrief — 5 minutes

Ask students to share thoughts about today’s activity: do any of the posters need clarification to understand? What parts of other students’ plans did they think were effective? Were there any consistent patterns in the strategies that students came up with?

4. Homework — 5 minutes

Ask students to write a reflection in which they summarize their original photo organizational strategy, then reflect on if they would make any changes to it after hearing about other students’ strategies.

Possible extension activity

Consider contacting a photo editor or photographer at a local news media outlet and ask him/her to speak to your class about how that media outlet organizes photos, then ask the students to reflect on how that strategy differs from (and, presumably, is more effective than) the one they suggested.  This gives your students another real world application and extends their critical thinking.