Youth Programs

Designed to cultivate visual literacy through photography and photobook creation, Aperture’s youth programs support the development of observational, reasoning, language-arts, and image-creation competencies. Our curriculum fosters an appreciation for the photographic medium as a vehicle for self-expression and an understanding of photography’s role in documenting history and culture.

IMG_0174 1

Teaching Visual Literacy Through Photography

Visual literacy is a set of skills that allows us to construct meaning out of visual information. A visually literate person understands how to read images and use them to communicate with others. In today’s multimodal communication landscape, the primacy of visual information requires that everyone understand how to “read” and “write” through visual imagery.

Aperture’s curriculum for middle school and high school students, Teaching Visual Literacy through Photography, offers a hands-on, in-depth exploration of storytelling and visual literacy through digital photography and photobook creation. Working at six underserved schools, Aperture’s professional teaching artists and education staff present twenty-one, ninety-minute classes throughout the school year. Each program culminates in an exhibition of student projects at the Aperture Bookstore and Gallery in Chelsea.

Aperture’s teaching artists teach visual literacy by guiding students in understanding basic photographic concepts, while simultaneously giving them the skills to discover deeper meanings in selected masterworks, from noted photographers such as Dawoud Bey, William Eggleston, Graciela Iturbide, Gordon Parks, Diane Arbus, Sebastião Salgado, and many others. By observing, discussing, and analyzing photographs, and responding to challenging photo assignments, students learn how to understand an image. Students discover:

                                          FORM + CONTENT + CONTEXT = MEANING

Aperture’s goal is for students to strengthen their visual literacy, critical thinking, and communication skills, and to exercise the creative habits of mind—all of which are vital to both academic and social success. Teaching Visual Literacy through Photography aligns with the national Common Core Standards for College Readiness and the New York City Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts.

Supporters of educational programming

The 2013–15 programs have been made possible by grants from The Pinkerton Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council, Manhattan Community Grant Program, and a gift from Agnes Gund, with additional support provided by Grand Street Settlement.

Contact us with questions at

Sign up for Aperture's weekly newsletter: