Helen Cammock / Hendon School / Visual Literacy activities


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This activity is designed to introduce students to thinking about how they can represent a little of who they are through self portraiture.

Materials Needed: CAMERAS (at least one between two)


– Thinking creatively about portraiture

– Communicating meaning through visual imagery

– Understanding self directed portraits and authorship.

– Pair work (negotiation, communication and feedback)

–  Basic editing and selection


Which of the 5 ways-in does this activity address:


1. How you can represent meaning and ideas in an image.

  1. How you can build/construct an image – introducing idea of  composition.
  1. Thinking conceptually – metaphor and symbolism.


Differentiation Strategies (to be discussed with teacher)

  • Pair work to enable everyone to begin activities with support
  • Support teachers in class to further support those who need it. These adults are part of each activity.


Step by Step:

This activity is designed to introduce students to thinking about how they can represent a little of who they are through self portraiture. It 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 ie:



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)


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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