Photography lesson

Lesson of the day: “An intimate look at the indigenous Seri people of Mexico”

Featured Article: “An intimate look at the indigenous Seri people of Mexico.” Photographs and text by Núria López Torres

The Seri, an indigenous nation of just about 1,000 people, have lived in northwestern Mexico for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Their identity is deeply linked to their natural environment, which in recent decades has been susceptible to an increasing number of threats related to climate change.

In this lesson you will learn about the culture of the Seri people and what they have done to protect and fight for their land and heritage. Next, we invite you to reflect on specific lines and photographs of the highly visual item.

Watch this one-minute video that tells Seri’s story of the creation of the Earth. Then answer the questions below.

  • What is one thing you can infer about the Seri people based on their origin story from Earth?

  • Does this story remind you of others about how the Earth was created from other cultures and religions?

Read the articlethen answer the following questions:

1. What emotions, images or memories come to mind when you read the first sentence of the article: “A light wind loaded with the smell of the sea softened the sweltering heat: The temperature had reached 108 degrees Fahrenheit, and it was only 10 am” How does this line set the tone for the rest of the article?

2. In what ways do Seri women earn money to support their families? What other jobs and responsibilities do community members have?

3. How has climate change threatened fundamental aspects of the culture of the Seri people? What other challenges has the community faced?

4. What actions have the Seri women taken to protect their territory and their heritage?

5. A young Seri, Paulina, said she planned to become a lawyer so she could help her people. Another, Salma, said her dream was to study biology so she could contribute to local conservation efforts. What do these statements tell you about the Seri youth’s relationship to their community and their hopes for the future?

6. Media education: This article is written in the first person, which means that the author tells the story from his own point of view, using “I”. How does this viewpoint affect the story and your understanding of the Seri people? Why do you think the author made this choice?

Part 1: Diary

What is your reaction to the article? What have you learned? What emotions, thoughts or questions did you have after reading? Answer these questions in your journal.

So, react to this quote from the article: “It is we who can uphold and defend our identity.” After reading the article, ask yourself: what does this quote mean? How do you see this illustrated in the article through the photographs, the author’s observations and the stories of the Seri people? What does this quote mean to you? How might this apply to your own life and community, if any?

Part 2: Photographs

Choose a photograph of the item to analyze. In a lesson plan on the elements of art, Kristin Farr says about the element of value in photography:

Photography can be defined as drawing with light. Photographers often capture high contrast colors to emphasize parts of an image and low contrast colors to add dimension, foreground and background.

Look closely at the photo you selected and ask yourself these questions from Ms. Farr’s lesson:

  • Does the photo have high contrast colors, low contrast colors, or a mixture of the two?

  • What’s the first thing you see in the photo? What’s the next thing you notice?

  • What do you think Núria López Torres, the writer and photographer, wanted to reveal about her subjects in this photo?

Finally, choose a quote from the article to associate with the photograph you selected. How does the photograph help illustrate an idea in the quote? You can share your selection with your classmates, then discuss which photographs and quotes you selected and why.

Want more daily lessons? You can find them all here.