In 1989 the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) invited photographer Wendy Ewald to Durham, North Carolina, to offer a two-week workshop for local schoolchildren. A year later, with encouragement from Durham school administrators and support from CDS, Ewald started the Literacy Through Photography (LTP) program, working in the Durham Public Schools to make photographs the basis for a variety of learning experiences across the curriculum. Since then, LTP has worked with numerous elementary- and middle-school teachers and with hundreds of children of varying ages and backgrounds.
At its core, Literacy Through Photography encourages children to explore their world as they photograph scenes from their own lives, and then to use their images as catalysts for verbal and written expression. Framed around four thematic explorations — self-portrait, community, family, and dreams — LTP provides children and teachers with the expressive and investigative tools of photography and writing for use in the classroom.
In connecting picture making with writing and critical thinking, LTP promotes an expansive use of photography across different curricula and disciplines, building on the information that students naturally possess. LTP also provides a valuable opportunity for students to bring their home and community lives into the classroom. Photographs can give teachers a glimpse into their students’ lives and, in increasingly diverse classrooms, give students a way to understand each other’s experiences.
Participating in LTP:
The best way to gain an introduction to Literacy Through Photography techniques is to attend one of the Basic Workshops offered each summer:
View workshop slideshow:
Wendy Ewald and Alexandra Lightfoot’s book I Wanna Take Me A Picture: Teaching Photography and Writing to Children provides a practical framework for how to get started:
For other questions please contact Katie Hyde or Elena Rue at the Center for Documentary Studies:
Participating in LTP Blog:
Please feel free to comment on posts in order to ask questions or create a dialogue.
To contribute to the blog, please send an email to email@example.com. We are interested in learning about the content of your program and the group of people with whom you collaborate. Please send us samples of your students’ or collaborators’ writings, photographs, or videos. We’re also interested in having people share lesson plans or classroom experiences and tips.