Interpretive Exercises

One Word

Ask students to carefully observe several exhibition photographs for five to ten minutes. Challenge them to suggest one word to describe what the photographs communicate. As students share selected words with the class, each descriptive word becomes an opportunity to ask leading questions, such as “What about the photographs suggested this word to you?” Students should cite specific details seen within the photographs to support their responses. Students may also collaborate to construct a poem about the exhibition from the one-word descriptions they identify.

Photo ID

Select a photograph you identify with and discuss what it reminds you of in your own experience.

Tell the Story

Select a photograph and create a story or song to accompany the image.


Select a character in one of the photographs and create a monologue for her. If she were speaking aloud, what would she say?

Role Playing

Working in groups of two, three, or four, select a photograph that presents the same number of characters. For the purpose of discussion, each student will assume the role of one of the characters and create a dialogue for that character.


Assume these and other roles and discuss contemporary cultural influences and opinions affecting girls and the way they feel about their bodies: an average teenage girl, an overweight teenage girl, a popular high school girl, a model, an athlete, a parent, a feminist, a high school boy, a casting director, an advertising executive, a pediatrician, and a plastic surgeon.

The Photographer's Eye

The following exercises introduce the artistic language of photography. The design of the photograph is examined by exploring intuitive and conscious decisions made by the artist.


Using the viewfinder in her camera, the photographer framed her subjects, determining where the edges of the image would be and what part of the scene surrounding her would be included within the picture. As you examine an exhibition photograph, consider Greenfield’s framing choice, the picture it presents, and how her framing draws your attention to particular details within the composition.


Discuss the variety of angles Greenfield has chosen to photograph her subjects from. How does the angle influence your interpretation of a photograph?


What attracts your attention in a particular photograph? How has the artist achieved this emphasis? Discuss other details that lead the viewer’s eye throughout the photograph?


How does vivid color enhance the exhibition’s themes and main issues? Notice how the colors provide a visual stimulation that adds a sense of unity to the exhibition.


Light reveals details, creates shadows, and often contributes to the emphasis or mood of the work. Observe and describe the quality of light in the images. For example, is the light natural, artificial, bright, harsh, or soft? What leads you to this conclusion? What direction is the light coming from? How do you know? Does the light contribute to the mood or feeling of the work? If so, how?


Are there strong visual contrasts such as subjects, angles, colors, and lights and darks that contribute to the mood and feeling of the work?

Interpretive Exercises by Cass Fey, Curator of Education at the Center for Creative Photography for use with the exhibition Lauren Greenfield's Girl Culture.

from Lauren Greenfield's Girl Culture: Faculty Guide
Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona