Portraits: I've Just Seen a Face

The day the photographer comes to school to take portrait photos is always quite a day, filled with irrepressible excitement and barely suppressed anxiety. When the pictures arrive, they are shared, traded, talked about and sometimes hidden. We are all protective of our own image.

Image has always been important to the powerful. Their portraits have traditionally been designed to impress us with the gravity of the subject. But changing sensibilities and media have tended to introduce more intimacy and spontaneity.

Creating visual and literary representations of people has proven to be an enduring human activity. Help your students examine this compulsion of ours to capture the human in image and words.

Guiding Questions

What differences in portraits can students observe?

What image of the individual do portraits convey to the students?

What kinds of portraits have been made of historical figures?

Learning Objectives

Cite at least three purposes a portrait can serve

List criteria for analyzing the image a portrait projects

Analyze a portrait of an historical figure based on the criteria

Relate biographical research to a portrait