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Alternate Activity 4: Truth and Photography (20 minutes), Session 10: To Tell the Truth

In "Riddle and Mystery," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • A digital camera or camera phone for each group of three or four youth
  • Optional: Photographs from magazines, newspapers, or Internet sources
  • Optional: A computer with Internet access

Preparation for Activity

  • Decide how and where the youth will make photographs.
  • Optional: Alternately, select photos to analyze with the youth.
  • Optional: Search online for photographic images the youth can analyze. Searching the Internet for terms such as "fake photos" and "truth in photography" might provide some results worth sharing with the group. Do your search in advance and either print out images or save the URLs. You are likely to find some images that are inappropriate. Preview any web page you want to show the group.

Description of Activity

Ask youth to analyze photographs to see how truthful they are.

If you have the time and equipment, this activity will be most effective if participants themselves create photographs that are misleading ("untruthful") in some way. Form groups of three or four. Give each group a digital camera or camera phone. Invite them to make several photographs that appear to be truthful, but are not. Explain:

It might be possible to make it look like one person has three hands. Or, make someone look like they are standing somewhere they are not. A close-up photograph can look like many things that it isn't.

Allow groups to make photos for a few minutes and bring their devices to the large group to share. Invite participants to speculate what has been photographed; ask what is truthful and what is untruthful about each photograph. Then invite the photographer(s) to explain what they photographed.

Conclude, in your own words:

It is not very hard to take a picture that is not truthful. Actually, no picture is totally truthful. Real people and objects have three dimensions. Most photographs have only two. Every time you take a picture you photograph just part of what you see. Because you cut out everything else around it, the viewer will see less than you saw—and only what you chose for them to see.

Variation

If you do not have the equipment for youth to make their own photographs, distribute photographs from magazines, newspapers or the Internet. Invite youth to analyze them to see what they show and do not show about their subjects. How might they be misleading? Can they still be "truthful?" How?

Including All Participants

Youth with sight limitations can participate meaningfully in this activity. Have a co-leader or another youth describe photos—not what they are of, but what they look like—to a youth who cannot see them.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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