Photo Detectives

Photo Detectives – Comparing Archival Photographs

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In this module, students will examine and write about archival photographs of groups of young people. Students will analyze these photographs on a worksheet; they will write a caption to describe one photograph, and they will create a selfie or drawing that communicates their personal identity as a member of a group.

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Students will:

  • develop visual literacy skills.
  • engage in experiential learning.
  • critically analyze images.
  • develop historical empathy.
  • create an image that illustrates their identity in a group.


Students will:

  • view the archival photographs provided.
  • work in small groups or individually, to complete the worksheet and the activities.
  • as a class, discuss their results.


  • copy of worksheet/activities,
  • drawing materials or personal mobile device/camera.

Activity 1:  First Look

  • Compare the people, objects, and activities you see in the photographs.
  • Record observations using the worksheet below.


Student Handout – Activity 1

Activity 2: Write a Photograph Caption

Select one of the photographs and in as few words as possible, write a caption for the photograph that follows these tips:

  • Give the facts.
  • Answer the 5 w’s – who, what, where, when and why.
  • Identify the main people.
  • Explain a moment in time; use present tense to create immediacy.
  • Add background information or context to the images, not just what viewers see.
  • Use a conversational tone, as if you are speaking to a friend, family member, etc.

Student Handout – Write a Photograph Caption

Activity 3: Create a Selfie or Drawing

Using what you now know from these archival photographs, use your digital camera/phone or create a drawing or image that communicates your personal identity, as a member of a group. The French word for a selfie is “ego portrait’. Consider how to illustrate your ‘ego’ as a group member in a digital image or drawing. Use the worksheet provided below.

Student Handout – Create a Selfie or Drawing


Teachers should conduct a discussion with students that focuses on how students might view photographs differently after having completed the activities.


  • Information about the Photographs from the Charlotte County Archives
    • Photo 1 — Participants in the St. Andrews May 1937 Coronation Parade honoring the Coronation of Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. This was the first coronation to be filmed.
      • For more information, visit the following:
    • Photo 2 — Participants in costume at a 1918 local production of Carnival on Stage, at the Broadway Theatre in St. George. Actors are dressed as Queen of Hearts, Flower Girl, Japanese Girl, Day and Night, and Snow-shoe Girl.
    • Photo 3 — Swimmers, possibly Girl Guides at Lake Utopia, Charlotte County.
  • NB Curriculum Framework Documents K-12
  • J Paul Getty Museum

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