• AP 2D Art Studio:Digital Photography


    AP 2D Studio Art: Digital Photography Syllabus


    Text:  The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman.


    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 credit.

    The 2-D portfolio contains three sections: Quality, Concentration, and Breadth.
    Section I: Quality
    Excellence demonstrated in original artwork from either your Breadth or Concentration sections—5 actual works
    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 College Board.
    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.


    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 work.  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 quality work. 


    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 Photography

                    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.

                    Project 1:  Create a photograph of a hand using the artistic process. 

    Unit 2:  Frames and framing: Introduction to composition

                    Choosing 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 framing. 

    Project 2:  For three subjects, take ten photographs of each, changing the frame each time.  Which framings work and why?

    Project 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.

    Unit 3:  The History of Photography

                    Students 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.

    Project 4:  Design and present a powerpoint explaining what the student thinks are the 10 most significant developments in the history of photography.

                    Project 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.

    Project 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.

                    Student 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.

    Project 7:  In 12 photographs, suggest motion through blur, freeze and pan techniques (4 photos each.)

    Project 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

                    Students 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.

    Project 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.

    Project 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 perspective.

     (15 works)

    Project 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 photographic elements

                    Students 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.

    Project 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:

                                    a. Single point of interest

                                    b. Multiple distinct point of interest

                                    c.  Horizontal lines

                                    d.  Vertical lines

                                    e.  Diagonal lines

                                    f.  Curves

                                    g.  Triangles

                                    i.  Circles and/or rectangles

    Please note that studio lighting will play a big part in this project.

    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 life.

    Project 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 Color

                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.

    Project 15:  Chiaroscuro-in 5 photographs use the chiaroscuro lighting technique to create dramatic effect.

    Project 16:  Select three of the following themes and photograph them, emphasizing their colors.  Make use of the color wheel to select colors.

    a.       Reflections

    b.       Light through glass

    c.        Engines

    d.       Architectural detail

    e.        Texture

    f.         Silhouette

    g.       Fashion

    h.       Food

    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.

    Project 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 this time.

                    Project 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 his/her feedback.

    Project 19:  Kaleidoscope-create a repeating pattern using design principles and 4 new photographs.  Include text elements.

    Project 20: Emphasis-in 15 photographs, use at least 5 different techniques to emphasize specific elements in your composition.

    Unit 9: Portraits

                Students 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 characteristics.

    Unit 10:  Macro Photography

                Students 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 scratch.