Photo Composition

And How It Works


In searching for creative ways to stimulate a student’s curiosity about a new topic, I chose the Think-Puzzle-Explore (TPE) technique to achieve this purpose. This provides an avenue for the student to consider his current knowledge base, then pushes the student to contemplate about what he would like to learn and finally, to encourage the student to investigate the topic to achieve full learning potential. This technique was developed as part of the Visual Thinking project from Harvard’s Project Zero with it’s purpose to encourage more process thinking by students.


  • In my Photography class, one of the topics that we study is Photo Composition. I would ask the students to fold a piece of paper into three equal columns and label them as Think, Puzzle and Explore. The students would be given 10 minutes to list all of their ideas and prior knowledge that they have about photo composition. They would then share that information with a partner and they could add any new thoughts from this peer-to-peer conversation.
  • Next, the students would list any questions that they have about photo composition and what they want they want to learn about this topic. They would also share this information with a partner and modify their findings.
  • Then, the students would list ways to learn about this topic in the third column. Some of the questions they might use would be: Where could you go to get more information? Whom might you ask? What sources could you use? How can you find ways to answer your own puzzles?
  • We would then view this video on Photo composition and the students would review their TPE chart to assess if their questions were answered. They would list the information on their chart.
  • The students would then be required to do this reading assignment,, and again review their TPE chart for more information to be added.
  • As an assessment of the level of learning, I would then hand out an additional assignment with numerous pictures on it. The students would be required to identify the types of photo composition in each picture. They would then have to find examples of each type of photocomposition and post this to Educreations in a video slideshow, illustrating all of the composition principles. This would demonstrate that the students have achieved the appropriate level of understanding of this topic and be able to identify it in other media forms.

What Photo Composition Principles Do You See?

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