The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Portraiture Photography Workshop

I had the opportunity to attend a summer workshop this morning. It was a put on by my building’s awesome art teacher and one of the district social workers, who is a licensed art therapist. The focus of the workshop was on engaging students with portraiture photography. It was pretty interesting and gave me some great ideas for ways I can take advantage of our fine arts teachers’ infusion time, which is time they can come into the classroom and help with integrated lessons.

The best part of the workshop, of course, was playing around with costumes and taking portrait photographs. We were put into two teams of four, with each team member given a task: model, photographer, lighting assistant, or costume assistant. Every 5-10 minutes we rotated tasks, so everyone got a chance to do everything.

I was the first to model, and my costume was a metal army helmet from World War I or II (I don’t know which, or even if there was a difference), a black face mask (think Zorro or the Man in Black), and an adhesive mustache that curled up at the ends (think of any stereotypical villain from any cartoon from the 60s, 70s, or 80s). The lighting selected was an orange tint. I think the results were quite fabulous. After loading the pictures onto computers, we got to play around with editing them using iPhoto (which, because our district uses Apple computers, is standard on every computer in the district). Here are some of the highlights:

The first pose, I simply crossed my arms and looked vaguely towards the camera. Not wearing my glasses, I actually had no idea where I was looking. Also, the mask was a bit high, so my eyes are cut off. Again, no glasses means a nearly-blind Mr. Valencic.

This is a three-quarter view shot. You can see both of my eyes (even better since the mask was adjusted!), and one of my ears. I love that my hair is sticking out from under the metal helmet!

This was my first profile shot, and I really liked how it turned out! So, of course, I had to play around with the editing features on iPhoto. The results, below, are what I came up with. By the way, I had never used iPhoto before, and I am certainly not a visual artist. But a friend who does portrait photography said she liked it, so I guess there’s that!

I definitely want to use this strategy in my classroom next year! My goal will be to have students take pictures and then write a story using the pictures to guide them. Because they will be the subjects of the photos, they can write either a fictional narrative or a personal experience. Of course, I’d have them use different costumes to help move the story along!


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