8 Educational Photography Resources to Spark Creativity

Advice and insight from the world’s top photographers, free photography curriculum, and more.

Aperture is invested in providing resources for photography enthusiasts looking to develop their knowledge of the medium, as well as to educators who want to teach their students visual literacy skills. From educational titles written by the world’s top photographers to Aperture’s free twenty-lesson photography curriculum (Aperture On Sight), we’ve gathered a variety of educational resources and activities to inspire those who are eager to engage with the craft of photography.

Activities for kids:

Go Photo! An Activity Book for Kids
By Alice Proujansky

Go Photo! features twenty-five creative hands-on activities inspired by photography. Aimed at children between eight and twelve years old, this playful and fun collection of projects encourages young readers to experiment with their imaginations, get messy with materials, and engage with the world in new and exciting ways.

Try “Little Me,” a fun and engaging activity from Go Photo! today.

two images of sports balls side by side
In this student example of Visual Dominoes, both images include a sports ball.

Visual Dominoes Activity
From Aperture On Sight

Visual Dominoes is a game that challenges students to create a sequence of images by finding visual connections. To play, download, print, and cut out the deck of cards provided by Aperture. Once you have all of the images, find a specific color in one of the photographs (like red), and place it next to another photograph that has the same color in it. Now find a shape in the second photograph, and place a photograph that has that same shape in it next to that one. Keep going like this, trying to find harder elements as you go, like composition or focus (color and shape are usually the easiest to notice).

A child's bedroom full of colorful toys
James Mollison, Tristan, 7, New York, USA; from Where Children Sleep (2010)

Signs and Symbols Activity
From Aperture On Sight

Lesson Five from Aperture On Sight introduces signs and symbols and how they contribute to meaning in photographic images. Understanding that photographic content can function like a symbol—representing things not seen in the picture—encourages students to look for elements in their own work that stand in for something else. Have your students look at James Mollison’s book Where Children Sleep, part of which you can view in the Lesson Five slideshow. Have each student choose an object from their bedroom, and ask them to photograph the object against a colored poster-board backdrop to create a still life “self-portrait.”

Resources for college students and adults:

A white house at night, surrounded by snow, with light coming from the windows
Todd Hido, #2479-a, 1999, from House Hunting (2001)

PhotoWork: Forty Photographers on Process and Practice
Edited and introduced by Sasha Wolf

Curator and lecturer Sasha Wolf was inspired to seek out and assemble artist responses to specific questions about their craft after hearing from countless young photographers that they often feel adrift in their own practice, wondering if they are doing it the “right” way. The responses, from both established and emerging photographers, reveal that there is no single path. PhotoWork is a collection of interviews with forty artists—Robert Adams, Dawoud Bey, Elinor Carucci, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Paul Graham, Rinko Kawauchi, Richard Renaldi, Alec Soth, and more—about their approaches to making individual photographs and a sustained a body of work. Structured as a Proust-like questionnaire, each individual answers the same set of questions; the resulting interviews provide essential insights and advice from both emerging and established photographers.

Aperture Conversations

With wide-ranging conversations and inspiring artist talks, we offer over one hundred Aperture Conversations online. To list just two examples: hear from Elinor Carucci, Paul Graham, and Gus Powell on their processes of making photographs; or delve into Diana Markosian’s exploration of immigration and identity through family.

Resources for educators:

The shadow of a man holding a child is illuminated on a wall, with a couple embracing in the foreground
Alex Webb, Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, 1996; from Alex Webb: La Calle (Aperture/Televisa Foundation, 2016)

Free Visual Literacy Curriculum

The Aperture On Sight curriculum is designed to teach visual literacy through working with photography and creating photobooks. It builds students’ abilities to communicate as visual storytellers and develops their creative and critical thinking, as well as building their capacity for academic and professional success. Educators can download all twenty lesson plans, plus a variety of resources, for free through Aperture’s website.

An elephant wrapping its trunk around a man's neck.
Mary Ellen Mark, Ram Prakash Singh with His Elephant Shyama, Great Golden Circus, Ahmedabad, India, 1990; from Mary Ellen Mark on the Portrait and the Moment (Aperture’s Photography Workshop Series, 2015)

Workshop Books by Leading Photographers
With Free Learning Guide Companions

For The Photography Workshop Series, Aperture Foundation works with the world’s top photographers to distill their creative approaches to, teachings on, and insights into photography—offering the workshop experience in a book. Our goal is to inspire photographers of all levels who wish to improve their work, as well as readers interested in deepening their understanding of the art of photography.

Aperture has created free learning guides for almost all of the Workshop Series titles. Aperture’s Education Department staff have organized each guide thematically, highlighting salient topics from the text. Within each theme, relevant chapters, passages, and vocabulary are noted, along with guiding questions to accompany specific images. You can download the free guides here.

Virtual Professional Development

Alice Proujansky, Aperture’s community partnerships coordinator and the author of Go Photo! An Activity Book for Kids, is available to provide direct educational services virtually, or over the phone. Aperture is also available to assist educators and schools in developing best practices and strategies on how to work with students who are learning from home. Proujansky was the lead curriculum writer for the Aperture On Sight program and is currently coordinator of the online program and all professional development activities. If interested, please email Alice Proujanksy and Emily Stewart, manager of education and engagement programs, at [email protected].

Browse Aperture’s collection of educational publications.

Access free learning guides to accompany Aperture’s educational titles.

View and download the full Aperture On Sight curriculum here.