Moving Beyond the Selfie: 21st Century Photography Skills to Improve Your Instruction

With music playing to greet session attendees, James Allen started his Moving Beyond the Selfie: 21st Century Photography Skills to Improve Your Instruction with a funny video from Bad Lip Reading and a survey to find out where his attendees were in their knowledge and comfort level with photography. He started out by sharing the link to his slides and resources,, and then he launched into his presentation. He shared how he uses copyright and creative commons, and then he gave all his session attendees a free two-week trial to the awesome Britannica Image Quest. You can use the free trial too log-in: aasl password: 2017 at One of the amazing features about this database is the project page, and James showed attendees how to download images and citations directly to Google Drive from this database. A great resource for students!

James walked us through some additional sources where students can acquire copyright free images like Unsplash and PhotosForClass. He gave us a link to a padlet where attendees were encouraged to search some of the sites and practice uploading the images. You can see the work from the session on the padlet here.

Next he showed us The Noun Project which is a great site to acquire icons that are all contributed from a global community. This is also a great site to use with students when they are creating projects and images of their own.

James is an amatuer photographer himself, and he shared his tips for photography with attendees. He approached his tips with an easy grace that helped the session attendees feel confident to move forward with their own photography skills.

James shared, “Photos allow us to show the world what our students are capable of. Taking some time to practice your photography skills can be so important for advocacy and for  documenting the awesome things happening in your library. AND it’s fun!”

As the presentation moved forward, he shared the Rule of Thirds video from Mike Browne, and session attendees got a little instruction from James on using this in their own photography. He also showed us how to use Canva as an editing space for photos. You can change the brightness and contrast on a photo by using the filter tool in Canva.


His presentation also highlighted the Add Ons that only recently became available in Google Slides for Unsplash and The Noun Project. This is a great tool for adding images and icons to slides, and a perfect resource for students because they don’t have to cite them!

He shared a few more tools as he wrapped up that are all available on the last couple of slides of his presentation. James was such an amazing and engaging presenter, and the resources and information he shared with us are easily implemented right away with our students.

James Allen is a teacher librarian and EDhub Director at Eminence Independent, a kindergarten through twelfth grade public Schools in Kentucky. He is an organizer and regular moderator of #KyLChat which gives librarians across Kentucky a place to share and explore new ideas. He is also a co-founder of the #KyGoPlay movement, with the goal of changing the way people think about libraries, makerspaces, and play in school. James is a Google for Education Certified Innovator. He is also a past president of the Kentucky Association of School Librarians, and is a member of the American Association of School Librarians Best Apps for Teaching and Learning committee.


Author: Nancy Jo Lambert

Nancy Jo Lambert is a Google Certified Trainer and high school teacher librarian in Frisco Independent School District at Reedy High School. She is a presenter advocating for libraries by telling the story of the learning happening in her library. She holds positions in the Texas Library Association, Texas Computer Education Association, American Library Association, American Association of School Librarians, and the Texas Association of School Librarians. She has been published in professional journals and won numerous awards and grants and was named TCEA Library Media Specialist of the Year and the American Association of School Librarians Social Media Superstar Curriculum Champion in 2019. She is co-founder of and she is known for sharing her professional work on Twitter @NancyJoLambert and her website

Categories: AASL National Conference & Exhibiton, Community, Uncategorized

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