Studying Photography


Why study photography?

Photography is an important art/creative medium. Photographs are everywhere. In the morning newspaper, in magazines, on the cover of CDs, in advertisements, on billboards. Without our realizing it, these photographs affect the way we think and feel about ourselves and the world. When we learn to interpret photographs and when we understand that images are not fact but, rather, one person's view of the world, we are better able to understand the influence they have on our thoughts.


As students study the nature of photography, they strengthen the following critical thinking skills which translate to other areas of learning and will serve them all of their lives.

  1. They practice careful observation by listing the visual details they see in Torchia's live projected images.
  2. They sharpen interpretation skills as they use these details to discover the meaning of the artwork.
  3. And finally, using the information they've gathered, they draw conclusions and make informed judgments about the work.

You and your students may use the interpretive exercises provided by the Center throughout the year. With each new exhibition presented in our gallery, we provide new learning materials. Every time students study photographic artwork, they strengthen their own creativity as well as their observation and decision-making skills.

What happens when we look at a work of art?

There are as many answers to this question as there are people looking at artwork. We each interpret according to:

  1. our observational skills
  2. the experiences we have had in life
  3. our mood at the moment we observe the art
  4. the amount of time we spend looking at the work. For everyone, however, the more time spent with a piece of art, the more chance there is for effectively "seeing" it and learning from it.


Helpful hints

  1. Ask your students to talk about details in the installations and to refrain from responding with a judgment. Encourage them to use specific words, rather than "big" universal terms. Being specific and refraining from passing judgment aid interpretation and understanding. Responses such as the following do not promote effective discussion or learning: "This artwork is pretty," and "I don't like this installation."
  2. It is important to spend at least ten minutes really looking at and thinking about each of Torchia's installations. The time you spend will be directly proportional to the degree your students will develop skills of observation, interpretation, drawing conclusions, and making informed judgments about visual images of all types.

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