AP 2D Studio Art: Digital Photography Syllabus
Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael
This course is a year long, college level exploration of the
principles of design as expressed through digital photography. Students will finish this course with strong
skills in photography, photo editing and manipulation and the theoretical and
practical applications of the principles of design. They will ultimately demonstrate these skills
through a portfolio of photographs that shows the quality and breadth of their
work as well as a planned investigation of an idea of
personal interest to them. It is the
expectation of the class that these portfolios will be submitted to the College
Board for AP credit in May.
This syllabus provides direction for the highly motivated
photography student to take the AP Studio Art 2-D Design Exam and earn college
The 2-D portfolio contains three sections: Quality, Concentration, and
Section I: Quality
Excellence demonstrated in original artwork from either your Breadth or
In the Quality section, you will submit five actual works (prints) of your best
work. You do not need to show a variety of techniques or approaches, but must
show excellence in concepts, composition and execution. Each work must show
mastery of varied media, techniques, approaches and subject matter. The Quality
section can be pulled from the Breadth or Concentration sections, but they do
not have to. They may be a group of related works, unrelated works, or
combination of related and unrelated works.
Requirements: Actual prints can be no larger than 18" x 24",
including matting or mounting. Works for Quality that are smaller
than 8" x 10" should be mounted on sheets 8" x 10" or
larger. To protect the work, all work on paper should be backed or
mounted. Mats are optional.
Section II: Concentration
Students will brainstorm with others and make lists of possible concentration
topics. They will also view work by historical artists to discover in-depth
exploration topics studied by others. Students will write a reflective
paper about their concentration, including what they started out to achieve and
how it evolved. These will be uploaded to the digital submission site for the
The Concentration section is a planned investigation of an idea of personal
interest to you. In this section, you will develop a body of work that grows
from this investigation. You must submit 12 pieces of work in this section.
Section III: Breadth
A variety of experiences utilizing the principles and elements of design in the
formal, technical, and expressive means available to an artist—12 works, each work reflecting the
solution to a visual problem based on the elements and principles of design.
These will be uploaded to the digital submission site for the College Board.
In the Breadth section, you must document your experience with a variety of
concepts and approaches that demonstrate your abilities and versatility with
techniques, problem solving, and ideation. The idea here is to show variety in
your work. The projects below will help to fulfill the Breadth section of the
2-D portfolio. You may have other photographic works that would also fit in
this section from previous photography classes or projects. Twelve pieces
demonstrating your knowledge and mastery of the elements of art and the
principles of design are required for Breadth.
There can be no crossover between the 12 photos for Breadth and the 12 photos
for Concentration. These 24 photos will be turned in digitally and do not
need to be printed.
SCORING OF PORTFOLIOS
All students will work the entire year to complete a portfolio based from
the above sections. At the end of the year, the student portfolios will be sent
to the National College Board for evaluations and receive a final official
AP score. When creating artwork for AP, the student must move beyond copying
and create work that expresses their own ideas. Throughout the year, students will
document their work digitally as well as keep them safe in their own portfolio.
In early May, students will submit their work digitally to the AP Board on a
designated website. The quality section requires that the student send 5 actual
QUALITY works to the National AP Board for evaluation. This takes the place of
an AP written exam. Students who score
a 4 or above, immediately recieve college credit for the class. It is up
to each college policy whether they accept a 3 as college credit.
Students will keep a journal demonstrating their thinking
and process, as well as critiques of their own, other student and professional
Learning to critique yours and other student’s work is an essential
skill for the course and we will do this at the beginning and completion for
every project. For every project, there
will also be individual critiques of work in progress with the teacher. These are not criticisms and in no way
reflect on the value of the work, but instead are intended to be an artistic
dialogue that reinforces the process student’s need to produce the highest
Students will develop their skills
through the following units, using these as a departure point to develop their
own artistic vision. There will be a
written quiz at the end of each unit and cumulative tests at mid-term and final
for each semester.
Unit 1: The Art and Reality of
Through discussion and critique of
examples of photography as art, students will understand the artistic process
that sets intentional photography apart from snapshots. As a group we will begin to learn to critique
examples of photography. We will use
this method to critique our own and other student’s work after each project. Students will understand what constitutes “fair
use” of a photograph and what constitutes plagiarism. Any use of a photograph that is not the
student’s original work will not be tolerated.
Students will understand that ease of access on the internet does NOT
give them any right to use an image.
Students will understand how copy right protects them. Students will develop their own vision and
move beyond any form of imitation throughout the course (with the obvious
exception of Project 30: Movie Poster) .
Students will understand the rights and responsibilities of shooting on
location, obtaining model releases and appropriate use of photographs.
1: Create a photograph of a hand using
the artistic process.
Frames and framing: Introduction to composition
what goes into the frame and how to arrange them is composition. Learning
the guiding principles of design will set student photographs apart and
open up a world of visual possibilities.
Students will learn the rule of thirds, simplicity, leading lines, and
2: For three subjects, take ten
photographs of each, changing the frame each time. Which framings work and why?
3: Take 15 photographs on a theme,
using the principles of composition we’ve discussed. In the notebook, list what principles you
used in each photograph and why.
The History of Photography
will learn a brief history of photography from the camera obscura to the
digital age. Students will understand
how a film camera works and how to set shutter speed and aperture to get a
properly exposed photograph. Students
will understand how developing film and printing work.
4: Design and present a powerpoint explaining
what the student thinks are the 10 most significant developments in the history
5: Students will be assigned a
photographer to research and present to the class. Include a brief biographical sketch, their
impact on other photographers and representative works with a critique.
6: Using a manual film camera take,
develop and print at least 2 properly exposed, focused photographs that use the
guides of composition.
Unit 4: Action and Depth of Field.
will understand how shutter speed and f/stop control the appearance of action
and the depth of field within the frame as well as the exposure. Students will understand and use equivalent
exposures. As always, all photographs
will adhere to the guides of composition.
7: In 12 photographs, suggest motion
through blur, freeze and pan techniques (4 photos each.)
8: In 15 photographs demonstrate
different depths of field that are appropriate for your subject. At least 8 of the photographs must have
shallow depth of field.
Unit 5: Introduction
to the principles of design
will know and use the principles of contrast, balance, gestalt perception,
dynamic tension, figure and ground, rhythm, texture, perspective and visual
weight. Know how to apply these
principles to any photographic situation.
Draw examples of each principle in the notebook.
9: Collect 5 photographs that highlight
each of the principles (40 in all). At
least 15 must be from photographers from the list given in class. Pick two of the photographers and give some
background on their art and explain how the photographs you chose reflect the
personal vision/style of the photographer.
10: Using the principles of design
introduced so far plan and take the following 35 photographs on these
themes. Label each photograph with all
the design principles that apply
a. Feet/Shoes (5 works)
b. Geometric shadows/forms (5 works)
c. Organic forms or textures (5 works)
d, Glass/Transparency (5 works)
e. Student choice. Must include at least two different uses of
11: Concentration. After thinking
through your photographic experience so far and your personal interests, choose
an area to concentrate on. It must be
deep enough that you can explore and grow your vision and your technique, but must also be
specific enough to hold together as a coherent group of photographs. Prepare a 1 to 2 page, typed paper explaining
how your idea might translate into specific photographs and how it will meet
the requirements. You will not be
required to take all of these photos as your vision will change as you continue
your work, but this is the place to start.
Unit 6: Graphic and
will analyze and plan compositions to create single and multiples point of
interest, and use horizontal, vertical
and diagonal lines, curves, eye-lines, triangles, circles and rectangles and
vectors. Students will understand how
lighting and lens optics affects compositions.
Students will learn the basics of studio lighting technique.
12: Still Life. Chose 7 objects and
arrange them in different ways (you do not have to use all seven objects in all
the photographs) to create two works each on:
Single point of interest
Multiple distinct point of interest
c. Horizontal lines
d. Vertical lines
e. Diagonal lines
i. Circles and/or rectangles
note that studio lighting will play a big part in this project.
13: Choosing the subjects yourself, create 2 works demonstrating each of the
above principles in situations over which you have less control than a still
14: Use different focal lengths on the
same composition and create different effects, 10 works (2 focal lengths on 5
different subjects), for each work explain what effect you were trying to
achieve and why you chose that focal length.
Unit 7: Light and
Students will understand how light and color work together
to enhance composition. They will work
with both high key and low key images in color.
15: Chiaroscuro-in 5 photographs use the
chiaroscuro lighting technique to create dramatic effect.
16: Select three of the following themes
and photograph them, emphasizing their colors.
Make use of the color wheel to select colors.
b. Light through glass
d. Architectural detail
Unit 8: Principles of
Design in practice.
Students will review all of the principles of design and
composition we have studied so far and put them all together. Know the effects of unity, rhythm and
emphasis on your work.
17: Select a previous project that you
now see isn’t as accomplished as it could be and reshoot it. Be able to explain what you did differently
18: Concentration-the first 6
photographs of your concentration are due. Besides our regular critique, these
photographs will be reviewed by a professional photographer and you will get
19: Kaleidoscope-create a repeating
pattern using design principles and 4 new photographs. Include text elements.
20: Emphasis-in 15 photographs, use at least 5 different techniques to
emphasize specific elements in your composition.
Unit 9: Portraits
will apply composition techniques to both formal and informal portraits.
Project 21: Natural light photographs-Using
reflectors and natural light, create 15 portraits.
Project 22: Formal Portraits-Using studio lighting take
20 different poses of a subject
Project 23: After learning what is important or unique
about your subject, do a series of 6 portraits that highlight these
Unit 10: Macro Photography
will explore the tiny and the close up looking for patterns and textures.
Project 24: Use a zoom lens to take extreme close ups of
10 different subjects, then apply the patterns and textures from the macro shot
to a larger object using Photoshop.
Unit 11: Product Photography and Commercial Design
Students will understand how the
principles of design apply to product photography.
Project 25: Select 5 different products, at least one of
which must have reflective surfaces (glass or metal). Take 4 photos of each product, making the
product look attractive with the studio lights.
Project 26: Select one of the photographs above and
create a magazine advertisement for it.
Include an action shot as well as the product shot. Use the principles of design to arrange all
the elements: photographs, text and graphic pieces.
Unit 12: Photo Essay/Photojournalism
Students will understand how to
use the principles of design to tell a true story.
Project 27: Events-use 25 photographs to tell the story
of a sporting event (or other approved event).
Project 28: Photojournalism-For 3 separate subjects, not
including the event in the last project, select a single photograph for each
subject that most clearly conveys the emotional content of the subject.
Unit 13: Modern Art
Students will understand how
photography has influenced painting and visa versa.
Project 29: Students will photographically recreate an
approved painting. Then they will create
an original work in that style.
Unit 14: Movie Poster
Project 30: Students will recreate a movie poster from