Create a Portrait that Tells a Story
Make an environmental portrait of a person important to you.
A good portrait reveals aspects of a person's character to the viewer. In an environmental portrait, the person portrayed is placed in a setting that shares information about the person's life and/or interests. The person may also be holding objects related to their professional trade or interests and hobbies. In this activity, students will learn about environmental portraiture by viewing other portraits, and then creating a portrait of their own.
Length of Activity
20 - 30 minutes for discussion in class
1 - 2 hours at home to create portrait
- Portrait from a photographic collection
- Camera with film
- Person to be your subject in an environmental portrait
1. Begin the activity by letting your students know they will be looking at an environmental portrait, and then creating a portrait of their own by photographing a person that is important to them.
2. As you view the image, explain to your students that portraits are pictures of people.
One type of portrait, an environmental portrait:
- places the person portrayed in a setting or environment that shares information about the person's life and/or interests.
- includes props, or objects that relate to a person's professional trade or interests and hobbies.
Sometimes people hold their favorite possessions to show their economic standing in the community.
While viewing the image, ask your students:
- How does the setting of a photograph tell you about the subject's life?
- What do his surroundings tell us about his life?
- Do you think the photographer has created a successful portrait? Why or why not?
3. After discussion about the image, prepare your students to make an environmental portrait of their own. Ask your students the following questions:
- Who would you like to photograph?
- Why is this person important to you?
- How can your photograph of that person best reveal their true character and what they like to do?
- What type of setting would be best for the portrait?
- What objects will the person hold that express their interests, or what they do for work?
4. Make arrangements for the development of the photographs. After the portraits have been taken and the film has been developed and picture processed, have students share their portraits with the rest of the class.
Have each student present their portrait, without giving information about it to the rest of the class.
Ask the other students:
- What can they learn about the personality and interests of the person in the photograph by just looking at the picture?
- What do they see in the photograph that makes them say that?
- After a discussion, have the student who created the portrait share any other details about the portrait they would like the class to know.
5. Conclude by asking students how the experience of completing this project was for them.
- Portrait - a picture of a person. A portrait can be a drawing, painting, photograph, or sculpture of a person.
- Environmental portrait - a portrait that places the person portrayed in a setting or environment that shares information about the person's life and/or interests. Props may be used to communicate a person's professional trade, interests, or hobbies.