Essential Lens: Analyzing Photographs Across the Curriculum
Location: Zaatari Camp, Jordan
Photographer: Jaz Cummins
Source: UNHCR/Jaz Cummins
MENA social media influencers mission November 2016. Syrian refugee residents have built 2,500 businesses and services in their desert home’s informal market — the Champs Elysee’— since the camp opened in 2012.
Background: Zaatari Camp was opened on 29 July, 2012, in response to thousands of Syrians crossing each day into Jordan. The camp is a temporary home to a little more than 79,000 people; 57% are under the age of 18. Initially constructed as a tented camp, the extreme weather conditions (searing heat in summer, temperature below freezing in winter), along with the intensification of the crisis in Syria, required a more suitable and longer-term shelter response, with 24,000 prefabricated shelters now in place. Creating and fostering employment for refugees is also crucial. Zaatari Camp is the home to a thriving informal market, with 30,000 refugee-operated shops and businesses.
Photos downloaded from the Essential Lens site are cleared for educational use only.
Program 1 A Closer Look (video)
This introduction to the course models the process of analyzing photographs with teachers and students. Photography historian Makeda Best discusses the Focus In method with teachers, and educator Julie Keefe employs the method with students at a photography exhibit on "light and dark." Photography curator at the Portland Art Museum, Julia Dolan discusses how she carefully selects a set of photographs to tell a larger story.
Program 2 Witness (video)
Photographs bear witness to world events and help us to learn more about people, places, and situations -- historical and present day. Middle school teacher Donald Rose guides students in analyzing photos from school integration movements of the 1960s. Documentary film producer Ken Burns weaves photographs into historical narratives to bring the past to life. Photojournalist Louie Palu's photos take us deep into mines and war zones, and engage us with the individuals who take on those tasks.
Program 3 Lives (video)
Lives explores the story of human resilience and perseverance. Middle school teacher Donald Rose uses the Migrant Mother photos by Depression-era photographer Dorothea Lange to help students understand what elements a photographer chooses to focus on to create the greatest impact. Historian Linda Gordon, biographer of FSA photographer Dorothea Lange reveals Lange's role in engaging Americans in the plight of those who were most devastated. New Orleans documentary photographers Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick talk about the transformation of their photographs after Hurricane Katrina and working with young photographers to preserve the city's cultural heritage.
video 4 Evidence (video)
An image can show us otherwise invisible processes, previously undiscovered life forms, and dramatic change over time. High school teacher Rima Givot engages her students with highly magnified photos of mouse muscle to study genetically modified organisms. Scientist and photomicrographer Dennis Kunkel demonstrates the fascinating process of creating photographs of the microscopic world. Environmental photographer Gary Braasch reports on his worldwide travels to document the state of the planet through repeat photography.
Program 5 Story (video)
Every photograph tells a story: of struggle, of beauty, of community and culture. Social studies teacher Kim Kanof uses photos from the Protests and Politics collection to teach about protests around in the world in 1968. National Geographic photo editor Pamela Chen details the collaborative process of creating photo-based feature stories with design director David Whitmore. Iowa photographer Danny Wilcox Frazier discusses his work documenting the residents and images of marginalized communities across the United States.