Send them into the streets!
Taking pictures on the street using mobile phones is a common practice for most young people today. Why not take something your students already do naturally and willingly and bring a bit more focus and intention to it? You can introduce this alongside other projects in year 1 and students can develop their own thematic interests over time.
Using a "Brief"
Give specific but open ended guidelines, also referred to as a brief. The brief helps students to have a focus and not just take random pictures.
A brief can be simply to seek out and photograph a specified subject matter, like those listed below, as you go about your daily life. Or, for the more sophisticated students, give a brief with more interpretative content, such as a visual pun, or a contradiction, or even a cliche'. Looking for these in your environment is slightly more challenging because the student must think through the concept first, but they also allow for more creative freedom in choosing and interpreting subject matter.
Documenting the world around you
Some possible subjects for a photo brief:
food shopping - what do people put in their shopping bag? This requires some nosiness.
Things out of context, absurd, like this sofa I saw on the street
shop window displays, again, seeking the bizarre, the cliche, the ironic....
open doors...? Mystery, things only glimpsed
irony, visual puns ( see resource on Richard Wentworth below)
juxtapositions, wierd coupling of things
Weekly photo assignment
Make this into an ongoing project with a new brief every week. Students can brainstorm the brief themselves and come up with suggestions for the whole class. The weekly photo brief can run parallel to other art projects as it doesn't require much time investment and is done outside class time.
Time of day: take a picture of the same exact place at different times of day over a period of time.
Decay and transformation: create a still life of perishable substances; fruit, flowers etc. Photograph it every day over a month, documenting the process of deterioration. ( see work by artist Sam Taylor Wood at the Tate)
One Object Many Solutions is a teaching idea that uses photography to explore an object in a variety of situations, from a variety of angles, lighting, viewpoints, locations.
Look to Artists for Inspiration
photographing peoples grocery shopping makes a fascinating visual and cultural study
Californian photographer Peter Menzel visited 24 countries for the book Hungry Planet. From the Aboubakar family, from Darfur, Sudan, who spend 79p feeding four generations, to a German family who spend around £320, his work shows how much the world's weekly groceries cost.
This could be the inspiration for a similar type of documentary photo project. Simplify it: photograph everything YOU eat for a week, or narrow it down even more: take a picture of every cup of coffee you drink for week. You'd be amazed at the possible results of such persistence!
adapt this brief to explore people in particular situations
people showing kindness
people looking in the mirror, putting on make-up, grooming, etc
American 1920s-70s, documentary photographer of the vernacular
american photographer, born in 1953, I would say her photos are subterranean rather than street photography, mostly portraying the underground world of sex, clubs, aids..
UK, contemporary, photographs banal objects encontered on the street, slightly manipulating the scene sometime, placing objects to create humour or irony. Go to One Object Many Solutions for a teaching Idea that uses objects and photography.
More resources on Street Photography
The Photographer's Gallery and several artists designed a project that spread out to include contributors from all over the world. Your students can join this group or start their own...
Street Photography Now is a collaboration between The Photographers’ Gallery, London and Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren, (Thames & Hudson). The project has run for 52 weeks, ending with the last Instruction issued on the 23rd September 2011. During this time the project has received over 16,000 images uploaded from countries including China, Japan and South Korea, Brazil and Argentina, USA, Russia, Australia, UAE, Morocco and all across Europe, including of course the many submissions from the UK.
Each week a leading contemporary street photographer issued a new Instruction, written to inspire fresh ways of looking at and documenting the world we live in. Over the following six days, photographers around the world were invited to upload one photograph in response to a special Flickr Group
Anders Petersen has been working in London's Soho for several weeks, as part of his Soho Projects residency commissioned by The Photographers' Gallery. Immersing himself in its bars, cafes, homes and hotels - creating a very personal portrait of one of city’s most vibrant areas.
In this video Petersen talks about his time in London, his working processes, and previous projects including the seminal Cafe Lehmitz.
and check out these links
Tutorials on street photography at creative live
On Street photography facing a moment of truth in the Guardian
Framing Your Vision - William Eggleston