#LetsMakeWednesdays — a photography challenge!

September 23, 2020

Let’s take photos and explore the world around us 

Photographs are everywhere. They give us information about people, places, objects, and events. People take photos to record our lives, create art and communicate. We can use photos to tell stories, express emotion and get inspired. 

Look around your home and see if you can spot any photos. What do they show? 
Who is in the photo?

Photograph by Tim Walker, 'Lily Cole and Giant Camera', 2004. Colour print on Harman Gloss Baryta / Fibre Based paper © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Today, taking photos can be easy and quick, but it hasn’t always been like that. People started taking photographs around 200 years ago, and a lot has changed since then. The V&A has a collection of photographs that go back to the early days, when taking a photograph was difficult and could take ages!

Did you know that the V&A was the first museum to start collecting photographs, and has one of the largest collections of photography in the world? You can look at some examples here. 

This week’s challenge is all about taking photos. We are going to experiment with light and shadow, find and capture detail and snap creative selfies. You will need a camera for this activity; a mobile phone or any other device with a camera will do, but don’t worry if you don’t have one. You can try drawing instead. Make sure you ask first if you need to borrow a mobile or camera.  

Don’t forget to share your photos on #LetsMakeWednesdays 

Let’s play with light and shadow 

Light is very important in photography. Sunlight or artificial light can create fun shapes! 

Photographer Paul Strand took this picture at his family’s cottage on a summer day. Can you see how he worked with the patterns of sunlight and shadow made by the porch railing? What shapes do you see?  

This is an abstract photographand it’s a little bit difficult to tell what it’s a photograph of. Abstract art is more concerned with what an artist feels and thinks, rather than making a direct copy of a real thing. Abstract artists use colours and shapes to express their emotions and ideas. What emotions do you feel when you look at this photograph?

Photograph by Paul Strand, ‘Abstraction, Porch Shadows, Connecticut’, from the portfolio ‘On My Doorstep, A portfolio of eleven Photographs. 1914-1973’, gelatin silver print, 1915 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Now, it’s your turn. Search around or outside the house for any fun shapes that the light makes. Look for shadows. You can photograph the patterns that the sun makes, or use an artificial light such as torch or a lamp to create your own. 

Top tip  if you are taking pictures outside, you will get longer shadows from the sun earlier and later in the day. A simple background makes interesting shapes from the shadows look clearer. Leaves and sticks on the ground can make really interesting shadows when you hold them up against a light.  

If you want, you can create a little backdrop for yourself using a white piece of paper. Hold up different objects against a light and see what shadows are created. 

Shapes, lights and shadows photographed inside and outside the house.

Let’s look for details 

The cool thing about photography is that it helps us look at things in more detail. Close-up photographs often reveal a world that we might otherwise ignore. 

Let’s have a look at this image by photographers Barbara and Zafer Baran. Can you see how delicate the flower looks? Did you know that it is possible to take photos without a camera? To take this photo the photographers placed the flower onto a scanner. As the light passes through the petals, it creates an image that is full of detail. 

'Dianthus # 135, 2003', from the series 'The Flower Cabinet', photograph by Barbara and Zafer Baran © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Now, let’s discover mini worlds! Take your camera closer and look for details that you may not have noticed before. You can find some very interesting patterns, textures and colours right in your own garden or local park. Look at flowers, plants and insects.

A wild life close-up: have you noticed how fluffy bumblebees are?

If you would rather stay indoors, try another location like the kitchen or even the bathroom. Close-up photos of water sprayed on surfaces can create interesting patterns. You can look for interesting textures on blankets or jumpers.  

Let’s snap creative selfies 

A self-portrait is where an artist creates a picture of themselves. A ‘selfie’ is a type of self-portrait.  Often the artist will put things in the picture that are important to them.  

In this picture photographer Armet Francis is experimenting with his camera. He takes a snap in front of a mirror to say ‘I am a photographer’ and to let us take a sneak peek into his world.  

Photograph by Armet Francis, 'Self-portrait in Mirror', gelatin silver print, London, 1964 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

What would you put in your selfportaitLet’s imagine ourselves in new and exciting ways and snap creative selfies! 

Top tip  you can try taking a picture of your reflection on unusual objects. Curved surfaces or surfaces that only reveal a part of your face can give you interesting results. Have you thought about using a spoon to take fun selfie? What about shooting your own shadow in weird shapes? 

An example of a self-portrait.

Let’s play with others 

Next, you can try making a quiz using the photos that you have taken. See if your friends and family can tell what is in each of the photos!  

Let’s take it a step further and see if you can make up a story with the photos you have taken. Can you include all the photos in the story? Now, read your story to your friends and family. 

Don’t forget to share your photos with us on social media using #LetsMakeWednesdays 

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