Portrait Assignment (Intro to Photo)

National Geographic - Steve McCurry - Afghanistan

Afgan Girl by Steve McCurry (for National Geographic Magazine)

For our first Introduction to Photography assignment shot on film with 35mm SLR cameras, students will be shooting portraits.

A portrait is by definition an image of a person.

But “portrait” implies something more formal or thought-out than a “snapshot” or street photograph. It implies a collaboration between subject and photographer, and an interest by the subject in getting their photo “taken.” Sometimes the relationship is complex, and is as much about the photographer–their point of view and the message they are trying to convey–as it is about the person in the photograph.


Migrant Mother by Dorthea Lange, 1936


  1.  Use available light!
  2.  Learn to work with a subject!
  3.  Use the location / environment!


On your roll of film, you must shoot:!

* A complete stranger!
* Someone you know well! * A much older person!
* A much younger person! * Someone your age!
* Yourself!

In the darkroom, you must print:! * One contact sheet !

* Five 5×7” prints!

Download a PDF of the Portrait Assignment here: Lecture – Portrait assignment.