Claire Collison / Visual Literacy activities

Activity: What, Who, and How?

Activity devised by Claire Collison, using portrait photography.

This activity invites participants working in pairs to consider


in order to better understand the decisions made in composing a portrait.

One of the pair is blindfolded (they can take turns).

WHAT: In pairs – one blindfold, one audio describing – the ‘sighted’ partner begins with WHAT they see.

Once unmasked the listening partner gives feedback on anything they thought was missing or confusing in their partner’s audio description.

Only then do both participants look at WHO the portrait is of.

Finally they consider HOW the way the artist has chosen to portray the sitter – framing, crop, colour, setting, context, size – has affected our understanding of the person in the portrait.

Visual Literacy activity devised by Claire Collison at the National Portrait Gallery


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