AP Photography adjusts to new curriculum, plans portfolios for exam


Quinn Lugenbeel, Arts Editor

The Advanced Placement Photography class is the perfect place for aspiring photographers to expand their skills as they explore a new curriculum this year.

This year, the AP Board changed the curriculum for the portfolio, which is in place of the exam. Now, it is a sustained investigation project where students ask a thoughtful question and use their photography to answer the question. “The portfolio is a set of pictures that we print and submit to the College Board. The curriculum changed this year so the portfolio is more about synthesis of ideas rather than final products. So we’re going to build it by ‘exploring’ a theme with a few final pictures and documentation pictures to show the synthesis,” junior Eli Kerness said.

The new curriculum was implemented so that students focus more on the process of the photos rather than just getting pretty pictures. This helps students make their artwork have a deeper meaning. This is more similar to the process that students at an art school go through. “The AP Board changed the curriculum because they were seeing that they were just getting pretty artwork without an understanding of the thought practice behind it. So, now, the portfolio is more focused on the process of getting to that end piece and more stress is put on the process than the end piece itself,” photography teacher Stephanie Labbe said.

Right now, the students are in the beginning stages of making their portfolio and they are currently thinking of the question that they want to center their project around. As the year goes on, students will add photos to their portfolio to answer their question and will continue to develop their question and theme as they go along. “The hope is that their work is going to evolve and their question is going to become deeper throughout the year,” Labbe said.

A typical day in class is comprised of editing photos that students have previously taken in Photoshop, working in sketchbooks to plan out their portfolio and critiquing each other’s artwork to make sure it is the best it can be. The class is focused on collaboration and the sharing of ideas through discussion. “The class is around 15 people, so we all learn from each other when we critique each other’s pictures, more than learning from lessons. So when I get my pictures critiqued people will suggest ways to fit a theme better or make the picture more successful,” Kerness said.

The new curriculum is an umbrella curriculum that applies to all of the two dimensional art classes including AP Photography. “The curriculum for AP is very similar across all portfolios. So we have AP Photography, which actually falls under the AP two dimensional design portfolio,” Labbe said.

The digital photo beginner class and advanced photography are good classes to prepare students for the next step of building a portfolio in AP Photography.