Helen Cammock / Hendon School / Visual Literacy activities






– Thinking creatively about portraiture

– Communicating meaning through visual imagery

– Understanding self directed portraits and authorship.

– Working independently

– Basic editing and selection

– Forward planning and organisation



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


  1. How you can represent meaning and ideas in an image.
  2. How you can build/construct an image – introducing idea of composition
  3. Thinking conceptually – metaphor and symbolism. 

What will be the role and responsibilities of the teacher(s) during the session?

  • Designing follow up and reflective sessions during the GSCE portraiture curriculum to support the exercise and combine the SMT and curriculum in a seamless way for students.

Activity – Step by Step

Explain to the students that this is a piece of work to be undertaken independently that will be shared with the rest of the group when completed.


Explain this activity will be undertaken outside of school and will be completed as an independent piece of work.


Reassure students that it can be shot on a camera or a mobile phone and if no one has access to either of these they can loan one out from school.


Explain that in the following photography lesson this homework will be downloaded and interpreted in class.


Brief for students:

This is an initial introduction to exploring your lives and experiences through photography:


Make an image that depicts each of the following on the list:

  1. Something that represents something about you (your likes, or dislikes, how you are feeling, what you like doing with your time etc).


  1. An image that represents a moment when you wake up.


  1. An image of somewhere in your home.


  1. Something that is special to you.


  1. One portrait of someone in your life (this person can be from any aspect of your life)


  1. Two self – portraits at home

(These can be taken using the timer on your camera or you can direct

someone to take one of you – try to avoid just using the selfie as it doesn’t

always give the most interesting composition).


  1. Two self – portraits somewhere outside of your home.

(These can be taken using the timer on your camera or you can direct

someone to take one of you – try to avoid just using the selfie as it doesn’t

always give the most interesting composition).


As with all the activities – think carefully about:

  • Composition

How the image is constructed – composition combines framing, light, colour and content.


  • Framing

What is in the image and what is excluded from the image. Think carefully about the background and foreground – move things if they distract from your image, add things in if they add to the image. Think about whether the image is a ‘close up’ or ‘wide angle’ shot.  Think about whether you want to shoot straight on or use angles and creat perspective in your image.


  • Colour

Think about how colour affects your image. Colour can be used to add a feeling/atmosphere or the focus point in an image. It can add to the overall meaning conveyed by an image


  • Lighting

Think about how light affects your image – technically –but also conceptually. Lighting can greatly affect feeling or atmosphere in your image. It can also therefore add to the overall meaning conveyed by an image.


  • Content

What the image is about, what the image is conveying.


NB – Be creative with the self- portraits –use the self timer on your camera, ask someone else to push the shutter but direct them on what to take and photograph yourself using one hand (a selfie). Use whichever technique works best for the image you are being asked to make.


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