Helen Cammock / Hendon School / Visual Literacy activities

Activity: Thinking about a portrait

This activity was designed by Helen Cammock. It introduces students to thinking about how they can represent a little of who they are through self portraiture.

Self portraiture can represent how others see them, how they want to be seen, what objects might symbolically represent their likes, values, tastes etc. It challenges them to rethink the self -portrait.

Create pairs and give each pair a camera (even if you have enough cameras for one each it is ideal for people to work in pairs at this stage). This ensures that each person in the pair supports the other in their process of image making.

Give the group these instructions (below) and ask them to consider technical considerations that you have already discussed like FRAMING : WHAT IS IN THE IMAGE AND WHAT IS NOT, LIGHTING, COMPOSITION: COMBINING IDEAS AND TECHNIQUE TO CREATE MEANING (subject/what you’re trying to say/context).

In Pairs each create 2 portraits.

  1. One that doesn’t reveal your face but might use your body in some way to represent you (hands, feet, hair, eyes etc)
  1. One that doesn’t include either your face or your body but might include objects/clothing/possessions/symbols that represent you in some way.
  • It needs to represent who you are – either things that you or others identify about you or perhaps objects that belong to you and people identify as yours? This will enable them to read your image and have some understanding of you.
  • Think about the composition of the image, what’s in the frame and what is not, think about the setting/background for the image, how you use colour, lighting (bright or low, do you use flash) etc
  • Select best 2 images each (after discussion in your pair) and delete others from card.
  • When finished take memory card and give to your member of staff team to create a project folder and download images from camera.



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