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TA(L)KING PICTURES: Thinking Through. Photographs Edited by Steve Williams, Kate Newton and Catherine Fehily Questions Publishing pound;38

Photography often features in lessons, says Helen James. But as a subject in its own right, it has much to offer

Photography is poorly served by resources specifically written for teachers. Many resources tend to use photography as a tool to understand subjects other than photography.

Digital technology, too, suggests that photographic images can now be used even more discretely within ICT. However, photography is both an immensely popular subject and a vital part of the consumer society that we inhabit.

It deserves specific consideration in primary and secondary education.

Ta(l)king Pictures offers a new solution to how photography can be taught within and beyond the art and design curriculum at key stages 2 and 3. It blends photography with philosophy to suggest activities that will enable pupils to engage with concept based image production and analysis.

Sixteen images, reproduced from photographs in the IRIS collection at Staffordshire University, can be used to start discussions.

The aim is an "introduction to aesthetic enquiry", enabling pupils to formulate their own judgments and apply informed criteria to reading and creating photographic images.

Three main areas are talking pictures, talking points and taking pictures, emphasising how aesthetic enquiry can be used to understand photographic themes and communicate visually.

For example: "staged or captured" is used to introduce ideas about how photographs are constructed (composition, viewpoint, image direction) and the choices - sometimes ethical - that face the photographer.

The publication, with its accompanying CD-Rom, functions as part-report (about pilot activities in two West Midlands schools) and part-resource.

With plenty of printable images, documents and references, teachers are encouraged to try activities.

Helen James is education projects manager at Photoworks in Brighton and a freelance photographer and educator To order the pack Tel: 01782 294721Email:

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