Wednesday, August 07, 2013

2013-2014 High School Photography Class Syllabus

I have had the privilege and blessing to be hired as the teacher for the photography class in one of the schools in Riverdale, UT. 
As part of my responsibilities I had created a syllabus that meets the basic needs of learning photography for students from 12 to 18 years of age (and older).
You, as parent and/or student, will have questions in regards of assignments and other information for the class... those questions are most welcome to be addressed at any time, but most likely, they will be answered regardless during the school year.

Basic Photography Class 2013-2014

Instructor : Alvaro Aguayo (AL)
Contact : 801-603-9837
Website :
Email :
Blog :

About the Teacher
I enjoy the practice of professional photography as much as teaching photography skills to energetic, enthusiastic students of every and any age.
I finished a minor in photography in the “Saint Mark University” while I was studying Veterinary Medicine in South America in 1997. Decided to follow the career of photography and opened my company in 1998, working as a full time photographer since then until, so far, today.
I did several internships for 1 year long each, in: Portrait studio photography (1999), Wedding photography (2000) and Printing and Laboratory processes (2005).
I've done studio work as well as on-location, including, but not limited, to: family portraits, children and high school seniors, wedding photography, traveling and landscape photography, fine art, commercial portraiture and products, etc.
I enjoy spending time with my family and experiencing outdoor sports like mountain biking, road cycling, hiking, kayaking, camping, etc.

Course Description and Objectives
  • Hands-on” and practicing Photography in every lesson.
  • Students will, generally, receive basic instruction, demonstration, and see samples of the desired outcomes, at the beginning of each class. They will shoot assignments, based on what they are learning. Perhaps the most useful part of classroom instruction will be the reviews of photos students have shot during the assignments.
  • Introduction to the Business of Photography including but not limited to portraits and weddings.
  • We will talk about an “Introduction to Video work flow”.
  • This course also includes some investigation, reading, writing, and presentations.

Course Requirements and Materials
  • A digital camera per student (DSLR is preferred), with enough battery power and memory card space, placed in camera (the school does not provide cameras, so students are expected to bring one themselves).
  • A notebook and writing utensils.
  • A Flash Drive (8Gb or grater) or an SD Card (8Gb or grater) to transfer photos, assignments images, etc. for class analysis
  • Enthusiastic participation.
  • Demonstration of knowledge through quizzes and/or class presentations.
  • Respectful conduct to peers and teachers at all times during class and good behavior.

Daily Procedures and Conduct
  • Each student will use their own camera. Failing to bring camera will decrease class participation.
  • The class will be given and the principles taught.
  • Questions and concerns are always answered. A proper student/teacher etiquette of conduct is expected and enforced (like raising their hand before asking questions, referring to the teacher as “Teacher” or “Mister”, or if use with respect, I will allow students to call me “AL”).
  • Some assignments will be given to work as small groups; other assignments will be given to work individually during class. Some assignments will be demonstrated by the students in front of the class; other assignments will be presented to the teacher to be graded.
  • Near the end of the lesson I will try to resolve any question or confusion still remaining.
  • The students will remain in their seats until the teacher dismisses them and not when the bell rings.
  • No electronics other than their own digital camera, will be allowed to be used during class, like cell phones, iPods, mp3 players unless is used directly for the benefit of the entire class. Needless to say texting will be prohibited at any time unless is expressly permitted by the teacher only in case of an emergency. First warning will allow the student to put the device away without any further consequence other than losing participation points for that day. Second warning, the teacher will confiscate the device plus the lose of participation points for that day. Third warning, the student will lose participation points and the teacher will confiscate the device and will not returned it until student bring at least one of their parents, to whom it will be given back, regardless the potential importance and/or cost of the device in their personal life.

  • To be successful in this course each student must demonstrate the skills required to complete each project during class, have a passing grade on the quizzes and to have a positive attitude.
  • Additionally, each student will be able to increase grading points when present assignments, which are optional, and at the end of the school year they present a portfolio of “one-representative-photograph-per-each-assignment” for the final review and grading.
  • Grading will be using the official scale for grades (ex. 93 – 100 A, 90 – 92 A-, 87 – 89 B+, 83 – 86 B, 80 – 82 B-, 77 – 79 C+, 73 – 76 C, 70 – 72 C-, 67 – 69 D+, 63 – 66 D, 60 – 62 D-, 59 and below F Grades are NOT rounded. For example, 89.9% is B+).
  • Students will have all aid possible from the teacher:
    • During class time they can ask all their questions related to the subject being taught.
    • Right after class students can stay to resolve personal/class related questions or issues.
    • During the week students can communicate with the teacher via email, stating their concerns and questions. The teacher will answer them in the same fashion.

    1. Appropriate Subject Matter
Photographs must be in compliance with school rules and policies. If the students are not assigned to a subject is the student responsibility to select a subject that is appropriate and double check with the teacher in case of not being certain (i.e., no drugs, paraphernalia, gang activity, violence, sexual conducts, sexually explicit or implicit conduct and dressing, etc.). Assignments will get a failing grade if the subject chosen is inappropriate, regardless the quality of presentation.
If you are unsure whether or not something is appropriate, please ask before starting the assignment. You might be surprise how much misunderstanding happens for only supposing or assuming things.
  1. Outside-the-Classroom Photo Assignments
    When students are outside the classroom on photo assignments during class time, they are expected to observe classroom and campus rules at all times. Additionally:
    - A photo pass must accompany students at all times on campus.
    - Stay on task. Students engaging in any activity other than the assigned task, including loitering, will be escorted back to the classroom (consequences will apply including loss of privileges which could cause grade to be affected).
    - Students will not enter or disturb other classes while taking photos or walking to location.
    -Students will stay in the approved shooting location. Leaving the campus during school hours is strictly prohibited and will be penalized if happens.
  1. Home Assignments
    When students are assigned to do home work, they have an entire week to complete it, by themselves, before the next weekly class. Failing to do this, the students will receive a failing grade for that particular assignment.
  2. End of Year Presentation
    Out of each assignment, the student must select one best representative photograph, which at the end of the school year, each student will present as a portfolio (a group of photos) including a written brief explanation of the chosen subject, exposure used, lighting used, rule of compositions achieved, and other important information for each individual photograph.
    It will be graded and pondered averaged with the final test.
    The portfolio, in order to have maximum scoring, can be presented in either of 2 different ways:
    a) Digital Presentation: the student must create a Power Point Presentation as elaborate as possible, showing the different photographs taken during the school year including some technical information as described above.
    b) Printed Presentation: each photograph should be printed on a photo paper or art paper, in an 8x10 size or larger and presented in a nice professional folio. Each photograph should include some technical information as described above.
      Both presentations will have the same grades if are done to the best of the student's abilities and are suitable to the teacher's criteria. The portfolio will be scored for:
      - exposure (up to 15 points) - overall presentation (up to 10 points)
      - lighting (up to 10 points) - personal effort (up to 15 points)
      - subject (up to 10 points) - creativity (up to 10 points)
      - composition (up to 15 points) - complexity in the elaboration. (up to 15 points)

      Things that will decrease your score are:
      - Your home work was done by someone else.
      - Poor overall presentation.
      - Lack of personal effort.
      - Poor photography quality in exposure, lighting and composition.
      - Wrong choice of subject.
  • Each student will be solely responsible to her/his equipment. The school will not be responsible to compensate, restitute or replace equipment even if the damage had happened during class time and/or on school property.
  • If the teacher is responsible for the direct damage, the teacher will replace the equipment damaged, not the school.
  • Damage to school property by students will be penalized and it will require
  • Damage to personal property by the owner-student or other students due to accidents, miss-use or neglect will not excuse the student for not begin able to give assignments in time.

Please take a moment to read, fill out and sign the attached acknowledgment and agreement form. If you have any questions concerning the syllabus please feel free to contact me by phone or email.
Thank you!
Alvaro Aguayo (AL)

I, _________________________________ (Print student's name), commit to following school and classroom rules. I understand that not doing so could cause me to lose classroom privileges and thus affect my grade. I am aware that when I check out equipment I am responsible for it. I will be held financially responsible for any lost, damaged or stolen equipment.

Student Printed Name_____________________________

Student Signature________________________________

Parents, please print your name and sign acknowledging the above. In addition, by signing this form you are giving permission for your child's picture to be taken, if needed for class purposes, during any given class time, without notification, and to be use for class purposes both in class and online (the address of the class blog will be given during the first day of class).

Parent Printed Name______________________________

Parent Signature_________________________________

Phone Number__________________________________

Best time to reach you ____________________________
Thank you!


Photography Lessons
(still under review and possible modifications)

1.- First Lesson – Aug 19th 2013
  • Getting to know each other
  • Basic Class Rules
  • Introduction to photography
  • Questions and Answers
  • Main Interests to learn from students

2.- Key Camera Controls I – finding them and knowing how to use them. - Aug 26th 3013
  • Working in Manual Mode
  • Shutter settings
  • Aperture (Depth of Field)
  • ISO
  • Raw vs Jpeg
  • Image sharpness
  • Contrast and Saturation

3.- Key Camera Controls II – Getting familiar with them. - Sept 09th 2013
  • Review of previous lesson:
    • Working in Manual Mode
    • Shutter settings
    • Aperture (Depth of Field)
    • ISO
    • Raw vs Jpeg
    • Image sharpness
    • Contrast and Saturation

4.- Exposure Controls and Settings – Playing with camera Exposure Controls – Sept 16th 2013
  • Under exposure
  • Over exposure
  • Perfect Exposure – Main purpose and subject.
  • Using in-camera exposure meters
  • Using an off-camera exposure meter
  • First Assignment – To take 5 different subjects. Each subject will have:
    • One (-2EV) under-exposed photo (record your settings: Ap,ShSp,Iso,Lens).
    • One (+2EV) over-exposed photo (record your settings: Ap,ShSp,Iso,Lens).
    • One perfect exposed photo (record your settings: Ap,ShSp,Iso,Lens+Subject purpose).
    • To present them digitally in a flash drive (the due date) or send it via email (before due date).

5.- Principles of Composition I – To learn How to create interesting photographs. - Sept 23rd 2013

  • Review of previous lesson
  • Review Assignment from previous week.
  • Leading lines
  • Angles
  • Rule of Thirds
  • Practice Rules of Composition I

6.- Principles of Composition II – To learn How to create interesting photographs – Sept 30th 2013
  • Review of previous lesson
  • Mood photos vs Happy photos
  • Golden Triangle Rule
  • Practice all Rules of Composition I & II
  • Second Assignment – To photograph a sample of each different composition reviewed (5 different subjects) and present them digitally in a flash drive (the due date) or send it via email (before due date).

7.- Practice of Rules and Principles of Composition – Oct 7th 2013
  • Review Assignment from previous week.
  • Review of previous lesson
  • Practice

8.- Light I – To learn quality of lights and how to control it. - Oct 14th 2013
  • Review of previous lesson
  • Review different light's qualities: harsh, soft, dim, harsh, etc.
  • Time of day for photos (sunny, overcast, harsh light, too high light, too contrasty, etc.)
  • Direction of light and shadows (back light, front light, side ¾, side split, accent)
  • How light affects the photograph in portraits, landscapes.
  • Using our creativity (Gobos, Walls, Natural reflectors, etc.)

9.- Light II – How to use light in our advantage – Oct 21st 2013
  • Review of previous lesson
  • Reflectors
  • On-camera flash units
  • Off camera flash units
  • Strobes
  • Third Assignment – To create 5 portraits of 2 different subjects (10 photos total) using the 5 different light conditions: sunny, overcast/covered, back light, incandescent and candle.

10.- Review of Composition and Lighting – Oct 28th 2013
  • Putting all knowledge together and combined.
  • Review of all previous lessons

11.- Analysis of classic photographs and Questions and Answers – Nov 04th 2013

12.- Brief review on How to process a photo in Photo shop – Nov 11th 2013
  • Demonstration on projection how to work a photo.

13.- Refining Portraits – Nov 18th 2013
  • Capturing expressions
  • Moving fast
  • Eliminating distractions
  • Changing the angle and height (going to the floor).

14.- Photo walk around the school – Nov. 25th 2013
  • Photographing their peers in the school perimeter

15.- Analysis of photos taken the previous week. - Dec 02nd 2013
  • Class analysis of the photographs taken the previous week

16.- Business of Portraits – Dec 09th 2013
  • Pricing a photo session
  • Pricing prints
  • Advertising

17.- Practice your own business of Portraits – Dec 16th 2013
  • Create your business: name, pricing structure, advertising, shooting, review of samples

18.- Business of Wedding photography – Jan 06th 2014
  • Pricing structures
  • Pricing prints
  • Advertising

19.- Practice your own Wedding business – Jan 13th 2014
  • Create your business: name, pricing structure, advertising, review of samples
  • Assignment.

20.- Questions and Answers, Review of assignment and confusion-solving – Jan 27th 2014

21.- Nature photography – Feb 03rd 2014
  • Principles for a Landscape photograph
  • Composition: Capturing color, lines, isolating subjects, basic rules, etc.

22.- Wildlife photography – Feb 10th 2014
  • Principles
  • Composition.
  • Assignment.

23.- Review of photographs and analysis of assignment – Feb 24th 2014

24.- Using Reflectors, Filters and Tripods – Mar 03rd 2014

25.- Still-life photography (a review of macro) – Mar 10th 2014
  • Lighting for the close up. Mini reflectors and gobos
  • Subject and purpose matters
  • Practice in class.

26.- Create an abstract photograph – Mar 17th 2014

27.- Review of other types of digital photography – Mar 24th 2014
  • HDR (High Dynamic Range)
  • Night photography
  • Macro photography
  • Underwater photography

28.- The Art of Black & White, sepia and other monochrome photos. - Mar 31st 2014

29.- Quick review of Composition Rules – Apr 14th 2014

30.- Quick review of Lighting and Uses – Apr 21st 2014

31.- Introduction to Video and Motion pictures – Apr 28th 2015

32.- Final Questions and Answers – May 05th 2014

If you have any questions about this syllabus, please contact me at : 801-603-9837