You don’t have to be an expert
When incorporating photography, it’s helpful to think about what you want to accomplish. Photography is such a great tool to teach both artistic skills and life skills. A great place to start is to provide students with some basic composition tips. As a first lesson, have students take cameras on school grounds and photograph something that they think is ugly. In doing so, students inevitably create interesting images. In fact, they have taken something ugly and created something beautiful. You can draw out of students why they took the photo. Then, have them explain what is beautiful about it and help them understand there is beauty everywhere if we look hard enough.
Do the same lesson but photograph something beautiful. Then, encourage students to focus on the beauty around them. We all have to make the choice of what we focus on, the beauty or the ugly around us. Focusing on what is ugly around us can be discouraging. Encourage students to look for and focus on the beauty. Find ways to use beauty to foster hope.
Use the same process for lessons on patterns or shapes or lines (all elements of design). Apply life skills to each lesson. For example, ask, what patterns in your own life can you change for the better? What shapes the decisions you make?
Students don’t need to be in a beautiful space in order to experience beauty. The ability to change their perspective can happen in the same space they learn math or grammar every day. In fact, that can make the shift all the more dramatic. If a student can find beauty in a place they spend most of their daytime hours, then they should be able to find beauty anywhere they go. The point is to change how they look at their surroundings.
In the absence of cameras, create cardboard cameras. All the lessons can be implemented with a cardboard camera, using tools such as journaling and drawing to create imagery.