Hampstead School / Liane Harris / Visual Literacy activities

Activity: Still Life Portraits

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An activity to inspire more discussion around cultural identity.

Materials needed:

  • Objects brought in by students
  • A2 Cards (a variety of different colours)
  • PowerPoint
  • Cameras


  • PowerPoint (content, see below)
  • Useful Photographers- Wendy Ewald and Camilla Catrambone


a) PowerPoint – look at images from last week (Hidden Identity) that students took. Discuss what we can identify about the person and what this says about who they are (for example, the red tie signifies a student). Look at and discuss other examples of portraits that use objects to represent the subject.

b) In pairs-one camera per pair. Fixed zoom at 55mm (no distortion). High ISO to avoid camera shake etc.

c) Lay out all the different A2 coloured cards on a table.

Ask students to:

  • Choose a card and lay it on the floor (or table if they’re allowed to stand on chairs).
  • Place their objects on the card and try-out different arrangements, thinking about the shapes of the objects and how they fit together, along with the overall design.
  • Be sure to have the camera directly above their still life (not at an angle) and to crop the edges so that none of the floor is seen.
  • Then try another colour card for the background.

d) Upload and choose one image that is both technically and visually the best.


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