Six Applications of Photography in Education

2 mins read

Over the last year I have been turning my attention to Photography both as a personal development project and also as an education focus within school. There are massive learning opportunities within the whole area of photography. My interest in photography is no secret in school at in September I was approached by two pupils about starting a Photography Club.

With the paranoia surrounding UK education teachers are now especially cautious of using cameras in the classroom. This was different, it was about pupils using cameras not the teacher so naturally I jumped and the next day an announcement appeared in the school notices that the first meeting of the photography club would be the following week.

To my surprise (actually horror) sixty seven pupils turned up. In hindsight it was sad that with the throes of curriculum development we had missed an art form so many pupils were motivated to take part in.

I have decided to look at six areas where photography could be used as a learning tool without swaying too far from the curriculum remembering the infinite benefits of introducing students to such an accessible art form.

1. Mathematics

I am not a maths teacher so these are literally off the top of my head and there are probably a stack I have missed. There is symmetry, shutter speed fractions, Aperture and area of a circle, exposure calculations and finally frame rate when thinking of Moving Image.

2. Science / Physics

We probably all remember working with lens and light when we were at school. Photography if considered scientifically is understanding how light works. Curriculum wise we have lens, light, focal length calculations, refraction, spectrums and the list goes on.

3. History

This Christmas I received a number of photography books (including the “Genius of Photography” and the “Icons of Photography” it is amazing just how much history education uses photography.

Photographers such as George Rodger brought photography evidence of the horrors experienced in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp as well as the Normandy Invasions. In fact some consider photography to offer the real documentary evidence of the horrors of World War II.

4. Journalism

Probably the easiest area of the curriculum to introduce the art of photography. From history through to modern day events we have relied on the photo to communicate much of life. In so many ways it is the photo that survives when the actual news story has long been lost. Take a look at these examples of 13 photos that changed the world, and there are many many more.

5. Moving Image Arts / Art

Photography is a stunning accessible art form and if a student is ever going to create a brilliant piece of Moving Image Art then they have to understand the art of still photography.

There really isn’t very much point to labour this point as these are the obvious curriculum areas where photography can be studied in detail from the history of art through to modern day photography techniques.

6. ICT

I was going to leave the list at just five subjects but I think it is important to acknowledge the transferable skills offered through the study of digital photography. Having taught Moving Image Arts for a number of years I am amazed at just how much a student’s ICT skills develop throughout the year perhaps even more than students who study ICT, different skills perhaps but essential ones.

From working with hardware (USB, Firewire) through to file compression, storage issues, file types there is an unseen learning process that takes place. I have one student in mind who had little ICT experience at the beginning of the course yet after two years was the proud owner of a Mac Book and was not only able to use the computer in her creative workflow but was also on her way to start a degree course in multimedia.

Conclusion :

This badly written, unedited and probably riddled with grammatical errors post (I’m too tired to proof read) has a single aim and that is to re-focus. Teachers are so tied to curriculum and have little time to develop and be creative yet often the creative opportunities can be right in front of us. With the expectation of a dozen photographers in the photography club sixty seven was a wakeup call.

The next challenge is to fund and offer opportunities students wouldn’t normally have at home such as access to Adobe Lightroom, or Apple Aperture…. we love challenges though.


David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.


  1. Excellent Post! …. Just to add, I’ve just done my dissertation on the use of Digital Images & Photography as a recording and assessment tool in school (I concentrated on science specifically) & found it enhanced childrens cummalative talk & gave them a meaningful record of their learning that they could easily look back on.

  2. I completely agree — photography is something that can be used across the curriculum; in addition, students love to take photos and should be encouraged to do so for class. They can gather images for social studies to record the events of their neighborhood; they can write about photos or use them for launching pads in blog posts in English; they can apply Geometry to photos of buildings; there is no end to ideas for what can be done with a simple camera, only a lack of initiative on the part of educators.

  3. Im pretty sure image editing comes under ICT, which also comes under graphic design, so theres some more for you 🙂
    Another thing for physics is how the camera works, im always reading up on how my camera does what it does, really interesting tbqh

  4. Great creative article!! I like the idea of integrating photography to education!! Teaching kids needs lots of creative and attractive photoes to creat unforgetable information!!

  5. Superb article and it’s something that I’m getting approached more and more by schools. Over the last few years the number of teaches attending our workshops throughout the UK has risen with a few schools approaching us to teach the children not only the artistic side of photography but the technical side.

  6. Reciprocals (aperture) and ratios (aspect ratio, golden mean). And of course if you go back to film you have chemistry.

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