The Portrait Project

The Portrait:  Students will be able to use a digital camera and Adobe programs to create and edit an image, or series of images, that communicates a specific idea, individual style, and interesting graphic portrait of a subject(s).

Students are required to;

  • Photograph a minimum of twenty images
  • Use Adobe Photoshop to manipulate/enhance the final image(s)
  • Write a reflection/artist statement
    • Explain your process, theme, materials, influences, and overall understanding/purpose of your work using the language of art and photography. Please include an explanation of your work from a cultural, social, and historical perspective.


1. Bring something to focus on.
2. Use the “rule of thirds” and stand off center.
3. Use a tripod and try both auto and manual focus settings.
4. Experiment using the camera timer and set the camera to take multiple exposures (if possible).
5. Use a prop.
6. Consider what your background says about you.


  • Location/environmental portrait
  • Studio portrait
    • portrait using a specific lighting style; high key / low key / 1 light, 2 light, 3 light, lighting, silhouette techniques, etc.
    • variation of multiples as a portrait, including; the contact sheet as a portrait, triptyck, diptyck, etc…

Original Photography:          

 _____           Photograph subject using the RAW format (if possible) with a Gray Card

_____            Students are encouraged to photograph a minimum of ten images

_____            Subjects must be in focus or you will be asked to reshoot

_____            Create and label a new folder on your desktop for each project

_____            Save original image files as a digital negative (DNG files) in your folder

_____            Take production notes that can be reflected on in your summary; camera, lighting, focal length of your lens, time of day, etc.

Written Summary: (Understanding of Media)  

_____            Written summary in Word, include your name, period and the date

_____            Describe your final image in photographic compositional terms. Speak about the multiple photography tools and strategies used to create your image.

_____            Write a paragraph which includes a personal reflection of your final image.


_____           Set the size for final output to 11″X14″ @ 300 DPI (dots per inch)

_____            Email a flattened JPEG file, keep PSD file on computer

_____            Save As > 

_____            Subject email heading; Portrait

Extra Credit: Complete a second project that is graphically different from your original in terms of subject or object. You can create a dyptych, two images placed side-by-side, that are visually appealing and compliment each other.

Video links: “Annie Leibovitz – Life Through a Lens”

“Mark Seliger, Master of Photography”

Interesting articles on portraiture:

10 Ways To Take Stunning Portraits

Camera Setting Tips

16 Inspirational Techniques


4 – Excellent – Met all requirements and handed in work either early or on time – 100 – 90  3 – Good – Met most requirements and handed in work on time – 89 – 76 2 – Satisfactory – Met few requirements – work handed in late – 75 – 65 1 – Incomplete – Did not meet any set requirements and/or no work was submitted – 64 – 55

BENCHMARKS: (Photography, Photoshop and Social Skills to be mastered.)

  • _____ Photo: Uses the appropriate semi-automatic and manual camera settings for a given situation
  • _____ Photo: Uses a Gray card to set proper exposure
  • _____ Photo: Uses a Hand held meter
  • _____ Photo: Sets up and shuts down a studio set
  • _____ Photo: Sets up and uses Tungsten lighting
  • _____ Photo:  Sets up and uses Strobe lighting
  • _____ PS: Creating and using layer masks
  • _____ PS: Retouching images using the PS retouching tools
  • _____ PS: Cropping, resizing and using rulers and guides
  • _____ PS: Work in Adobe Camera Raw
  • _____ PS: Converting images to black and white
  • _____ PS: Scanning images and preparing for output
  • _____ PS: Preparing an image for printing
  • _____ Social: Working independently in the photo studio
  • _____ Social: Working independently on location
  • _____ Social: Critiquing the work of professional, peers and one’s self
  • _____ Social: Speaking with Subjects or objects before, during and after a photo shoot

 Common Core:

Key Ideas and Details

  • RST.9-10.3. Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.

Craft and Structure

  • RST.9-10.4. Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9–10 texts and topics.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • RST.9-10.7. Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.

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