On Sight

Lesson 5

Content: Signs and Symbols

Lesson five introduces signs and symbols and how they contribute to meaning in photographic images. Students discuss and interpret different symbols in works by James Mollison, Nan Goldin, and Robert Frank. 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. Making “backpack portraits,” students photograph an object found in their backpack that symbolizes something about themselves.

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