Image challenge - Explain your photo! - using photos that trigger emotions

Image challenge - week four

Explain your photo!

There are some photos that when we look at them, they remind us of a certain situation, some exciting or horrifying experience. Let's take World Trade Center attack, for example. No matter when it happened, you still have those pictures in mind. You know exactly what you were doing at this time and how you were feeling. If you happened to be at the scene, your feelings will probably be even more traumatic. It is the same with our students.

Most pictures that are included in our coursebooks although of great quality, big or small, aren't surprising or shocking. They are simply 'correct'. But that means that when looking at them there is not much happening in our students' brains. Just have a look at the typical photo of a family:

It's just an ordinary picture you can find in any coursebook. And what if there was presented a picture like that:

Can you see the difference? It has feelings. You can read it like a story. You want to comment it without being asked. And that is the power of this image. So next time you decide to use photos in the class remember they should be:

  • surprising
  • funny 
  • shocking 
  • complicated
  • intriguing
  • unusual 
In this way, we can expect certain reaction from our students, then new connections in their brains appear. Neuroscientists believe that this is how our brains function. Such photos simply boost our brain's work and thanks to that we remember information much longer. So why not to use this knowledge and apply in the classroom. But how?

Well, here is the next week of our IMAGE CHALLENGE and I would like to show you how it can be used in the class. To do it, I would like to present you a few websites which have plenty of unusual photos:


Of course, you must be selective as you may also find a lot of really inappropriate photos but I'm sure you can still find something useful for your students, too.

Those are two examples of photos that I found on website. When you look at the first one you will automatically notice that all the girls are pregnant. Now, I'm sure the real brain storming activity can start. Are they really pregnant? Or mabye it's a kind of campaign? If yes, what it is about? And maybe this photo could be used in a discussion about teenage pregnancy, as it is a common problem in some countries. There are plenty of ideas coming to your head, am I right? And what about picture two? How could your students explain the photo? What has happened? Why?

I just love the website as there are not only great photos but also short articles about them, For example, once I've seen a selection of photos with the Empire State Building and some images displayed on it. I thought about a chapter about nature&environment and how much students dislike taking about penguins covered in oil or deforestation. That is why, I thought it would be a great activity for a change. I asked them where they thought the photos were taken and what was displayed on them and why? We had a class discussion and then I gave them some information that I had found out about the project:

From the article I learned that it was actually organized by the Discovery Channel under the name "Projecting change". It was supposed to be a touching tribute to 160 endangered animals projected on Empire State Building.

Endangered species aren’t always in the forefront of public debate. Then I asked my students:
Do you think such actions make sense? What other issues could be shown/projected in a similar way? Where could they be displayed in our country? etc.

Let's not forget that there are also a lot of such photos simply on facebook. Some time ago I noticed a photo as it was said 'posted by some desperate mum' asking people on facebook for help. In fact, as it was later explained the photo was taken after the earthquake in some hotel. Anyway, the effect was astonishing - 16,000 reactions and 456 comments. Just have a look and give it to your students to rack their brains. The best solution wins. Perfect for a mental warm up:) How would you open the cupboard without breaking the dishes?

The main message of the post is : BE CHOOSY WHEN SELECTING PHOTOS! Using right photos can be a mental warm up for your students - something their brains need.

Hope you liked it. Comment - share - enjoy!!!