Hampstead School / Liane Harris / Visual Literacy activities

Planning a self-portrait

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Developing an awareness of different aspects of one’s own identity and how this can be represented in a photograph.

Materials needed:

  • PowerPoint
  • Questionnaire
  • Prompt sheet (see PDF)
  • Cameras


  • PowerPoint- Use Maud Sulter’s Terpsichore photo and Lorna Simpson’s photo entitled Flipside
  • Examples of questions for the Questionnaire:
  1. Identity– I describe myself as… (e.g. Albanian, immigrant, Irish etc.)
  2. Emotions – I am generally…(happy, easy going, depressed etc.)
  3. Things that make me happy/sad/angry are…(friends, family, homework etc.)
  4. Actions – Things I like to do are…(listen to music, read, sports etc.)
  5. Inspirations – People I admire are…(my mum, sports icon etc.)
  6. My aspirations/dreams/hopes are…(to be happy, go to Uni etc.)
  7. What people like most about me is…(my loyalty, my laugh etc.)
  • Prompt Sheet (please see PDF)



a) PowerPoint –

  • Explore the choices made by Sulter and Simpson and what impact these have on the final portrait

b) Questionnaire-

  • Each student is asked to fill out the questionnaire as a tool to help generate ideas about what characteristics they’d like to represent/show/reveal about themselves in their final self-portrait.

 c) Prompt sheet –

  • Each student is given a prompt sheet to encourage them to think about props/framing/expression/body language/clothing they want to wear etc.

d) Cameras- in pairs

  • Each pair is asked to experiment with different poses etc. and begin to plan their final self-portrait.

 e) Students to review photos and write down what they need for final shoot.




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