Gordon Parks

Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks (November 30, 1912 – March 7, 2006) was an American photographer, musician, writer and film director, who became prominent in U.S. documentary photojournalism in the 1940s through 1970s—particularly in issues of civil rights, poverty and African-Americans—and in glamour photography (Wikipedia).

  1. As a class, select one of the photographs from the body of work (see Google Slides above). Individually, write a six-word short story in which the photograph acts as an illustration for your story. Write your short story on a sticky note, pallet or Jamboard for you and your classmates to see. Write your name (or your nom du plume) beside your story. See the example below, which was created using a Jamboard. link

  2. Short stories on a GP photograph

  3. Discuss everyone's short story. How does each story make you see the photograph differently? How does it add meaning?

  4. Get into pairs. Assign each pair a photograph that you have not already explored. With your classmate, do a see, think, wonder routine on your photograph.

  5. See Think Wonder
    What do you see in the ad? What images catch your eye? What do these images make you think about? What questions do you still have? What do you wonder

  6. After you have discussed the photograph in pairs, click on the link in the Google Slides on your assigned photograph. It takes you to a page about the collection from which the photograph has been taken on the website of the Gordon Parks Foundation. Read about the collection from which your photograph was taken. How does the information on this page change or add to your understanding of your photograph? Does it answer your 'wonderings'?

  7. With your classmate, analyse your photograph using the following worksheet. Make sure that everyone in your class has an understanding of the terminology on the worksheet before you apply it.

  8. Worksheet: Understanding photographs

  9. Explore the page on writing a line of inquiry for the HL Essay. Create another Google Doc, in which each person in your class writes a line of inquiry on Key and Peele and their sketches. Compare and contrast everyone's line of inquiry. Where do you see commonalities? Which concepts are prevalent in these lines of inquiry: transformation, perspective, culure, communication, identity, creativity and represention

  10. Could you write an entire essay on one photograph? This may be a challenge, but it is not impossible. Read the essay provided here. Now try writing your own analysis of 750-1,000 words on a photograph of choice. Note, this is not an HL Essay, nor is it Paper 1 analysis. It's something in between.

  11. Essay on a photograph


Gordon Parks' photography, as a body of work, provides a good point of departure for an HL Essay or an individual oral. The HL Essay asks how a BOW explores a 'topic'. The individual oral ask how authors of a BOW and literary work explore a global issue. How would you define the 'topics' and 'global issues' in these photographs? Make a list of issues as a class and find examples from 4-5 photographs to explore Gordon Parks' stance on this issue. You now have the beginnings of an IO or HLE.

Last modified: Monday, 12 October 2020, 11:50 AM