Lesson 2 Discovery Activity
The Technology of Filmmaking

Outside the Theater: Composing a Photograph

Whatís interesting is that the technology of film (lenses, camera, filmstock) changes the image in ways our eyes cannot. And the way the image changes affects how we feel about what we see. The most obvious example of this is the fact that photographs have a frame―and real life doesnít. The way you arrange objects in the frame is the basic composition of the shot. Often, what you exclude from the frame is as important as what you include.

Student Materials

Time Estimate

30 minutes


Flip through your snapshot collection until you find one that has a really unusual or effective composition (judged by what youíve learned from this lesson). If you canít find any unusual compositions, or if you are not pleased with what you see, get out your camera and try to compose an unusual shot. If you like, post the shot on the class message board.


Please post your responses to the following topics on the class message board.

  1. Post your most unusual photographic composition and explain why you like it. If you canít post the picture, then describe it for us and explain what it is about the composition that you like.
  2. As you saw in 2001, there were often things that were excluded from the shot that were as important as what was included. Is this true for your photo as well?