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Photographic and Digital Media Years 7–10: Advice on Programming and Assessment

Teaching, learning and assessment activities


Critical and Historical Interpretations


Students produce a series of photographs that explore the nature of light and still-life traditions.

They experiment with setting up a number of still-life compositions in the classroom and lighting them with studio lights from different angles.

With reference to Cotton’s Tea Cup Ballet students are instructed to choose interesting objects and to attempt to create a narrative approach to their composition. The collection and combination of objects can represent ideas and interests about a person, situation, cultural tradition or event.

Students record these experiments with thumbnail sketches in their Photographic and Digital Media journal. Different compositions are chosen and shot under studio conditions using SLR camera and tripod.

Students experiment with different camera angles, viewpoints, depth of field and different exposures in shooting the composition

Film is processed, a proofsheet and 2–4 provisional photographs printed.


The preliminary images are discussed with teacher before 2–4 final photographs are produced for submission.

Experiments, test strips, diagrams, annotations and decision-making about compositions, special effects and exposures are recorded in the Photographic and Digital Media journal.

The final submission will form part of the student’s Photographic and Digital Media portfolio.


Teacher provides a range of examples of photographers who represent objects and still life compositions in their photographs and how light and shadow have been used. These could include Olive Cotton, Max Dupain, David Moore, Roger Fenton, Adolphe Meyer, Sasha Stone, Imogen Cunningham, Marcel Broodthaers, Edward Weston, Paul Strand, as well as photographs that incorporate objects and still life compositions made for advertisements and magazine articles.

Students investigate examples of lighting and shadow in the work of Olive Cotton.

In a class discussion, students analyse the use of studio lighting and composition in works such as Windflowers. They discuss the atmospheric effects of the image, analyse how these were created and the responses to the world of inanimate objects communicated in these images.

Students use a scaffold to construct a response to Cotton’s Tea Cup Ballet.

The scaffold guides them through a structural response to the image and requires them to open this out into a consideration of the relationship between the image and the broader cultural concerns of modernism as a response to the world communicated by the image.

Students write a critical interpretation of Cotton’s work Tea Cup Ballet for a newspaper article about an exhibition of Australian photographers. They use the structural frame and aspects of the conceptual framework to explain Cotton’s intentions, studio and darkroom practices, her use of codes and conventions to communicate meaning, and the significance of her work.

Evidence of learning


Student’s understanding of the language of the use of studio lighting to convey a mood and create atmosphere is demonstrated in class discussion and written responses.


Student understanding of camera use, studio lighting, darkroom practice, composition aspects and creation of a narrative is demonstrated in the provisional prints submitted. Student understanding of how ideas about the world of objects and how the photographic image can be manipulated is demonstrated evident in photographs and discussions with teacher.


The student’s ability to successfully rework photographic images to reflect clearer artistic intentions is evident in final submission.



Oral feedback from teacher during class discussion of photographic images. Teacher provides written feedback about written response.


Teacher provides oral feedback about the students’ intentions and photography practice in the studio and darkroom.


Teacher provides written feedback about the final submission of still life images.


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