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The Real Picture Citizenship through Photography Chris Rowe and Martin Bou Mansour

thiSociety The activities in this pack are drawn from thiSociety, an active citizenship project originally conceived in 2001. The project encourages an active exploration of society, aiming to explore issues, challenge opinion and share conclusions through the medium of photography. The images in this pack were taken by learners from The Grey Coat Hospital School, Pimlico and Training for Life, Streatham in late 2003. The groups attended six sessions, learning about photography, composition and camera skills as well as spending time researching social issues and gaining citizenship skills and knowledge. Once the learners had learnt the basics they spent time on the streets examining what society meant to them. The result is a series of complex and challenging images, showing the creative and cognitive potential of the learners. Included in this booklet are some of the comments from the young people involved in the project.

Acknowledgements The Real Picture has been developed and written by Chris Rowe and Martin Bou Mansour, who ran the thiSociety project. The names of the young people who took the 12 photographs included in this pack are given on the last page of this booklet. Published by the Learning and Skills Development Agency Regent Arcade House 19–25 Argyll Street London W1F 7LS Telephone: 020 7297 9000 The pack has been funded by the Department for Education and Skills. ISBN 1 85338 968 4 Š Chris Rowe and Martin Bou Mansour, 2004. Typesetting and artwork by Em-Square Limited: Printed in the UK.

Introduction Throughout histor y humans have been drawn towards imager y. Our brains are ‘hard wired’ to respond to pattern, colour and repetition. The nineteenth centur y saw the invention of technology that enables us to capture life in real time, allowing us to experience extremes of humanity – joy, tragedy, pain, creation and destruction from a ‘safe’ distance. Photography engages us all. You simply have to flick through a daily paper to see the power a well-composed image can command. This power can be captured and used to motivate the learner and open up a world of imagination that can bring citizenship education to life.

The Real Picture has been produced as an introduction for educators wishing to explore citizenship issues through photography. It offers activities and project ideas, as well as an insight into classical composition guidelines.

Running a citizenship and photography project 1. Start the photography project by completing the activities in this pack. This will get your learners used to citizenship photography. For some groups you may have to discuss the meaning of citizenship and how it encompasses social, economic and political issues before starting the activities. 2. You must now decide on the focus for the project and final exhibition. Are the students going to be commenting on issues relating to the college, local community or society in general? 3. Choose the cameras you are going to use. You will need at least one camera between two learners. The chart on the next page will help you make the decision. 4. Spend some time board-blasting positive and negative aspects of your chosen issues. This helps the learners to focus and give them ideas for their images. 5. The learners must now spend time creating their images. If it is possible, invite the students to take their pictures in their own time. This gives a much higher chance of them finding appropriate subjects to match the views they want to represent. 6. Once the images have been taken, the learners can start the editing process. It is important that the group choose not only well-composed photos but also images with citizenship value. Remind them that it is their chance to show what they really care about. Aim for each learner to have at least two photos on display at the exhibition. 7. It is now time to organise the exhibition. The group can decide where to display their images. It may be possible to use a local community galler y or public building, or alternatively hold it on campus. The learners should draw up an invitation list, consisting of people they wish to share their ideas with. Local community leaders such as the local MP, Mayor, pressure groups or councillors would be an ideal audience. Equally, the group may wish to invite family, friends, Connexions personal advisors, social workers, etc. This is an excellent opportunity for a debate to take place on the issues raised in the exhibition.

‘Learning to effectively portray our ideas through a camera also helped us to understand that citizenship is an important part of everyday life. It teaches us how to be aware of the people and the area around us.’ Filiz Altinoluk

Which type of camera to use for the project?

Digital Compact

For: Good quality images, easily transferred between IT equipment. Instantly able to see images and able to ‘re-touch’ poor pictures. Against: Expensive to buy and replace if damaged. Can be complicated to use – no control over aperture or shutter speed (depth of field). Limited choice of lenses (cheaper models come with fixed lens).

35mm SLR (Single Lens Reflex)

For: Excellent quality images and full manual/ creative control over camera. Able to choose film speed (ISO rating), options for studio use/external flash, and wide choice of lenses. Against: Expensive to buy and replace if damaged and ver y complicated to use. No way to see images until they are processed and expensive to process images.


For: Cheap, easy to use and readily available. Against: Poor quality images. No choice of film, no control over aperture or shutter speed (depth of field). Environmentally unsound. No way to see images until they are processed.

35mm Compact

For: Average quality with some manual control of camera. Reasonably inexpensive and choice of film. Against: Quality is not as good as SLR or digital. No control over aperture or shutter speed. Expensive to process images, limited choice of lenses (cheaper models come with a fixed lens) and no way to see images until they are processed.

N.B. APS cameras are a less suitable format as they have the lowest picture quality and the highest processing costs.

‘Using the medium of photography, I was able to convey my ideas much more effectively. What was also interesting were the many different interpretations people who looked at our work could read into them. I wanted to put across messages which ranged from the nationalistic feelings heightened by the Rugby World Cup, political viewpoints connected to the anti-war march, and general hostility towards institutions depicted by vandalism.’ Alice Foster

Composition guidelines Basic Composition Introduction Composition is the pleasing arrangement and selection of subjects within the frame or picture area. People have been aware of the composition guides 2000 years before photography was even thought of. You need only look back to the architecture of ancient Rome and Greece. You will find that these guides are used all around you: paintings, sculpture, on television, in films, billboards, magazines – ever ywhere. The guides we are about to discuss are not rules, but simply guidelines.

Simplicity In a sense this is the most important guideline. The subject of your picture or centre of interest should be given the most visual attention. Don’t clutter the picture with other objects that will steal away from what you are tr ying to show or express. Often you can improve a composition by changing your point of view or moving in closer. Keep it simple.

Thirds Before you take a picture, imagine the frame divided into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. The four points that the thirds intersect are the points of most power ful visual attraction. It will bring more attention to your subject if it is placed on one of these four points. Where possible it is also desirable to place your horizons and verticals on thirds.

Lines Lines can be used as another composition aid. Diagonal lines make your picture more dynamic and help hold the viewer’s attention. You can use lines as ‘leading lines’, a path for the eye to follow to the main subject. Repetitive lines also draw the viewer’s eyes to your subject. The lines don’t have to be straight – the ‘S’ cur ve is a pleasing, graceful line that is ver y easy on the eye. Other simple geometric shapes notably triangles can be used to help your composition. Triangles can add strong visual unity to a picture. If people are in your photograph their eye line can be used to lead your viewer’s attention where you want them to look.

Balance Good balance is the arrangement of shapes, colours and tone that complement one another. Symmetrical balance is the placing of two or more ver y similar shapes or objects to achieve symmetr y. Non-symmetrical balance is using two or more different objects to balance a picture.

Framing Framing is quite literally using objects in the foreground to frame your subject or centre of interest. This technique also adds a sense of depth. A common example of framing would be a tree with overhanging branches.

Differential focusing Differential focusing is when one uses a large aperture to give a shallow depth of field. This way you can choose the elements within the photograph that you want to draw attention to by only having them in focus, and by throwing anything that could be distracting out of focus.

Repetition Repetition is another useful composition guide. This can be achieved by reflections, the use of similar objects, or even a picture within a picture.

Colour and Tone Colour theor y is a ver y complex subject. For the purpose of this pack we will just mention a couple of relevant simple guides. Light/bright areas in a picture draw the eye; equally warm colours like red, orange and yellow attract attention like a magnet. Blues have a tendency to throw things to the back of the picture. Avoid surrounding your subject with similar colours. Use contrast to draw the eye.

‘I discovered how symmetry, colour balance and focus contributed to the atmosphere of a photo and how it acts on our subconscious. For citizenship it gave us the ability compose our work and make our photos more effective in delivering important messages. Since I went on this course, I have noticed a great change for the better in my photos and how they can be used to develop a better understanding of society.’ Ariadne Arendt

Activity 1: Composition guidelines Student instructions Look for photographs in newspapers, magazines and catalogues that illustrate each of the composition guidelines. Be prepared to speak to the whole group about one example of a photo illustrating some of the guidelines.

Activity 2: Introduction to citizenship imagery Facilitator instructions The 12 images in this pack can be used to introduce citizenship education through photography. Each image represents different aspects of citizenship, which can be drawn out and discussed. Using the following framework, invite learners to examine the photos in small groups, before embarking on a wider whole-class discussion. On the back of this booklet, there is a brief description of what the photographers intended to convey through each of the 12 images. These could be used as the basis of a discussion, but only after the groups have decided for themselves which issues they feel the photographs represent. Give each small group two of the images and a copy of the Introduction to citizenship imager y activity sheet. For each of the photos they have been given, ask each group to list as many social and ethical issues represented in the image as they can.


Photo Number: 12 (‘Pink tank kids’) Social (issues relating to society or the community, including political, economic, environmental, etc.) 1. speaking out 2. using our voice 3. joining together 4. communicating with politicians etc. 5. Ethical (issues relating to rights, responsibilities, fairness, safety, etc.) 1. freedom of speech 2. the debate surrounding war 3. should kids be involved in political protest? 4. 5.

Introduction to citizenship imagery For each of the photos you have been given, list as many social and ethical issues represented in the image as you can.

Photo Number: Social (issues relating to society or the community, including political, economic, environmental, etc.) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Ethical (issues relating to rights, responsibilities, fairness, safety, etc.) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Photo Number: Social (issues relating to society or the community, including political, economic, environmental, etc.) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Ethical (issues relating to rights, responsibilities, fairness, safety, etc.) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Activity 3 Media and citizenship imagery Facilitator instructions The aim of this activity is to promote discussion on the use of citizenship-related photography in the media. The students spend time examining newspapers and picking out images that have citizenship issues at the core. The students must then specify the citizenship and aesthetic qualities of the images.

Student instructions Choose three pictures from the newspaper and discuss the following questions for each one:

1. Which paper did the image come from? 2. Briefly describe what the image is showing? 3. What is the accompanying stor y about? 4. Which citizenship issues are highlighted in the picture? 5. Why do you think the picture editor of the newspaper selected this photo for the stor y? 6. Is the image a good composition? Why? (refer to composition guidelines)

Activity 4 Messages through photography Facilitator instructions In this activity the learners have an opportunity to identify and discuss issues of personal importance. Firstly they choose an image from the pack which they feel strongly about. They must explain why they feel strongly about the image and create a message to go with it.

Student instructions Choose one of the photos in the pack that you feel strongly about. Use the following questions to explain why this image is important to you.

1. What image have you chosen? 2. Which citizenship issues from the image are important to you? 3. What points would you like to make about the composition of the images? 4. Create a message to go with your image. It could be a solution to a particular problem highlighted in the image, or perhaps an obser vation stating the positive aspects of the photo.

Example: 1 . Image 9 – Stereotyped 2. The fact that we all have prejudices and this affects the way we treat people. I also think that many of us are manipulated by the media. This influences lots of things, like the way we dress, communicate and act. This image has a positive side as well. If you look towards the back of the image you can see people taking pictures and showing an interest in their community. 3. The man’s face is on an intersection of thirds and the brick pillars and arch frames the picture nicely. The background is out of focus, whilst the foreground is sharp, which gives a nice effect. Finally, the man is looking out of the picture, not looking at the camera. This makes him look slightly intimidating and adds to the overall vibe of the picture. 4. Message for the picture: ‘Don’t be dragged down by your assumptions!’













Last Orders – How do our surroundings affect our aspirations? Talia Paulson, Training for Life.


Great Expectations? Talia Paulson, Training for Life.


No Parking! People just ignore the rules. Talia Paulson, Training for Life.


Hidden City. Talia Paulson, Training for Life.


Peace. Peter Kazmierslgi, Greycoats Hospital School.


Two regulars at the local bookies on a Monday morning. Ahmed Tejan, Training for Life.


The Kiss – We’d love some peace. (Anti-war demonstrations, London, November 2003). Ariadne Arendt, Greycoats Hospital School.


21st Centur y Trust. Ariadne Arendt, Greycoats Hospital School.


Stereotyped. Junior Henry, Training for Life.

10 Torn. How do women feel on our streets? Moise Misambu, Training for Life. 11 Trapped. Portrait of Ashreal. Craig Hewitt, Training for Life. 12 Pink tank kids. (Anti-war demonstrations, London, November 2003). Charley Hasted, Greycoats Hospital School.


Citizenship through photography  

BTEC National Diploma in Photography students investigate social and ethical through photography.

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