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.

Photogram Assignment

photogram lecture.024


–Learn about the darkroom–procedures and technology (enlargers, chemistry, paper, exposure)

–Play with design — positive and negative space, opacity, designing within the frame

–Work individually to design 2 photograms–one focused on design, the other on meaning. In the spring we will revisit photograms: students will work collaboratively to design one large (16×20″) photogram using natural materials (leaves, sticks, etc) found on our woods walk.

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Download the lecture (which contains examples, hints and the assignment) here: photogram lecture

Show Reviews: Galleries and Museums

Bullet Through Apple, Harold
Bullet Through Apple, Harold “Doc” Edgerton, 1964

Your show review is due at the end of the semester. Use this handout to complete your show review:

Gooder’s Show Review Handout

Here is a list of galleries and museums in the area that often feature photography. Visit these links to see what’s on display.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA)

Photographic Resource Center, Boston (PRC)

Panopticon Gallery, Boston

Robert Klein Gallery, Boston

Isis Gallery, Boston

Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester

These excellent museums sometimes also feature photography:

Peabody Essex Museum (PEM)

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (ICA)

DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln

Rose Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham

Harvard Art Museums

MassArt Galleries, Boston

MIT List Visual Arts Center

MIT Museum, Cambridge

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston