Yesterday, we shared tools for finding great images to use in classroom projects and work. While knowing how to locate images that are free and legal to use is important in a world that requires more visual literacy, it is even more important to give students the tools they need to shoot and edit their own photos. The popularity of tools like Instagram alone reminds us how important it is to people today to express themselves visually, to create photos that not only capture the physical reality of a moment, but also the emotional content of that moment. Without question, today’s world demands that we develop skills related to capturing and composing digital images to help tell our stories.
Fortunately for us, the tools we have available to us make learning these skills accessible and easy. We no longer need to have a deep understanding of complex software like PhotoShop to create stunning and unique images. Instead, we can use any number of simple and free web tools and mobile apps to make the photos we take more visually compelling.
If you are new to the world of digital photography, I would encourage you to begin by reading this blog post as an introduction to the basic skills related to shooting and editing photos. So many of our students are walking around with smartphones that enable them to take high definition photos, it seems a shame not to encourage them to grow as photographers. Teaching them even a few tricks will help ramp up the quality of the digital projects (presentations, websites, avatars) that they create. Also, whether they use their own photos or Creative Commons licensed photos that allow them to make changes, learning to edit photos strengthens our students’ skills in terms of visual literacy in the same way that learning to edit writing enhances our verbal literacy skills.
Thankfully, we have a cornucopia of digital tools to explore, and many of them are free and easy to learn. You can explore this list as a great starting point. Then after that, I hope you will take a longer look at my favorite, BeFunky.
There are a lot of reasons why I like BeFunky. First off, I love the palette of tools that BeFunky provides. I can always find a filter, frame or tool that gives me the look I am trying to achieve. These tools take me beyond simple cropping, exposure and red-eye reduction, but I can also rely on BeFunky when that is all that I need to do. Simply working your way through the toolbar to the left will give you a sense of just how extensive this tool kit is.
Another reason I like BeFunky is how easy it is to learn to use this tool. I find the interface to be very intuitive and that is important when I am working with kids. Additionally, it is super simple to share an edited photo from inside BeFunky via download, email and social media. Here is a quick demo of the web version:
The third reason that I like BeFunky is that it exists online and as a mobile app on both the iOS and Android platforms. That gives me the flexibility to take my favorite editing tool with me on the go.
If you are interested in getting a slightly deeper look at BeFunky, you can check out this webpage which includes several resources for helping educators get started with this great tool.
Check out BeFunky and some of the other photo editing tools in our collection. Then share in the comments below how you might use a photo editing tool in your classroom. Also, if you have a favorite free photo editing tool that we haven’t shared, please let us know about it and share what you like about it.