Youth Program

Designed to cultivate visual literacy through photography and photobook creation, Aperture’s youth programs support the development of observational, reasoning, language-arts, and image-creation competencies. Our curriculum fosters an appreciation for the photographic medium as a vehicle for self-expression and an understanding of photography’s role in documenting history and culture.


Teaching Visual Literacy through Photography



Visual literacy is a set of skills that allows us to construct meaning out of visual information. A visually literate person understands how to read images and use them to communicate with others. In today’s multimodal communication landscape, the primacy of visual information requires that everyone understand how to “read” and “write” through visual imagery.

Aperture’s curriculum for middle school and high school students, Aperture On Sight, offers a hands-on, in-depth exploration of storytelling and visual literacy through digital photography and photobook creation. Working at underserved schools in New York, Aperture’s professional teaching artists and education staff present twenty, ninety-minute classes throughout the school year. Each program culminates in an exhibition of student projects at the Aperture Boardroom in Chelsea.

Aperture’s teaching artists teach visual literacy by guiding students in understanding basic photographic concepts, while simultaneously giving them the skills to discover deeper meanings in selected masterworks, from noted photographers such as Dawoud Bey, William Eggleston, Graciela Iturbide, Gordon Parks, Diane Arbus, Sebastião Salgado, and many others. By observing, discussing, and analyzing photographs, and responding to challenging photo assignments, students learn how to understand an image. Students discover:


Aperture’s goal is for students to strengthen their visual literacy, critical thinking, and communication skills, and to exercise creative habits of mind—all of which are vital to both academic and social success. Teaching Visual Literacy through Photography aligns with the national Common Core Standards for College Readiness and the New York City Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts.

To learn more about our community partnerships click here. If you’d like to read more about visual literacy, please visit our visual literacy resources page.

Please visit our exhibition page to learn more about the 2015/16 student exhibition.

Slide 1

Mikel W., Grade 6, Highland Park Community School, 2015

Slide 2

Devin G., Grade 6, Grand Street Settlement Beacon Center, 2015

Slide 3

Jessica S., Grade 12, Brooklyn Arts and Media High School, 2015

Slide 4

Yunen R., Grade 6, IS 61, 2015

Slide 5

Dwight D., Grade 12, Brooklyn Arts and Media High School, 2015

Slide 6

Nasir D., Grade 7, Storefront Academy Harlem, 2015

Slide 7

Kimani C., Grade 11, Brooklyn Arts and Media High School, 2015

Slide 8

Ataliyah R., Grade 6, Storefront Academy Harlem, 2015

Slide 9

Christian M., Grade 8, IS 61, 2015

Slide 10

Supporters of educational programming

Aperture’s youth program Aperture On Sight: Teaching Visual Literacy through Photography is made possible, in part, with support from The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, The Bay and Paul Foundations, The Pinkerton Foundation, The Reba Judith Sandler Foundation, and a gift from Agnes Gund. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council, and Grand Street Settlement.

If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected].

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