Hampstead School / Liane Harris / Visual Literacy activities

Activity: Exhibition Visit (Edgelands at Camden Art Centre)

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How viewing a photograph in the context of an exhibition and in relation to other images can change our reading of it. Developing an understanding of how composition plays a role in the meaning of an image.

Materials needed:

  • Activity sheets
  • Pens
  • Masks (relevant to this particular exhibition)
  • Cameras


  • Pre- trip visit to gallery
  • Create an activity sheet relevant to whatever exhibition you are visiting.
  • Create a photo activity relevant to the exhibition


a) Specific to the Seeing More Things project, students were able to view a previously seen photograph (as a small print and on a PPT) in the context of an exhibition. A group discussion around When, Where, Why gave more meaning to an otherwise difficult image.

b) Working in pairs, students are given their activity sheets.

On the sheet, each pair is given specific images to find in the exhibition. They are then asked to write down:

  • At least one compositional rule they recognize in each image and how this contributes to the overall image.
  • One rule they think has been broken and why they think the photographer might have done this (example; deliberate camera shake to create a mysterious atmosphere)

c) Photographic assignment-

Relating to the idea of Edgelands for this particular exhibition, we have a general discussion about what this term means, and how this applies to people (being an outsider, living on the margins etc.)

Working in pairs students are:

  • Given one camera per pair
  • Each given a mask to use if they wish
  • Asked to take portraits of each other that show a sense of being an outsider.
  • Asked to think about placing the subject towards the edge of the frame and how this might contribute to the meaning of a portrait of an outsider.
  • Images printed out on A4 for a mini exhibition for the next session.


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