Identity Project / Studio Portraits

“Steve” by Matt Hoyle, from his book “Comic Genius”
“Tina” by Matt Hoyle, from the book “Comic Genius”

Essential Questions:

  • What defines you as a person? Is it: Culture? Personality? History? Gender? Your interests or activities?
  • How can the visual medium of photography be used to represent these aspects of identity?
  • What do you wish to share about yourself? What do you wish to keep private? How much can a photographic portrait show about a person?

Directions for Shooting this Assignment:

  • With a partner, shoot one portrait in the studio (our classroom). You will photograph them, and they will photograph you. Others can join in and help, but you and your partner will have a plan and will direct the crew.
  • For this image, think about one specific theme in your life (rather than every aspect of your life–that might be impossible to capture in one image!) You need to bring one prop or clothing item that shows a theme in your life. The quality of the light (direction, intensity, hardness or softness, color) can also help express your personality.
  • You are trying to get one great shot to print large that defines you (or apart of your life). Work until you get it!
  • You will spend 15 or 20 minutes setting up, 20 or so minutes shooting, and the remaining time in class putting the equipment (lights, backdrop, camera, tripod) away.

Directions for your Identity blog post:

  1. Include three images from your photo shoot. You may have a main image and two alternates… 
  2. Write about your identity, and how you expressed it through these images. One 5-7 sentence paragraph minimum. Look back at the essential questions, at the top of this assignment. In your paragraph, answer the following:
    1. What are you showing about yourself in this image?
    2. Why did you make the decisions you did as a photographer for these images?
    3. What was the experience of making these images like for you?
    4. What did you learn about photography and yourself through this project?
    5. Do you like studio portraiture? If so why?
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    Zach by Matt Hoyle, from the book “Comic Genius” (130 portraits of comedians)