In the Picture


(duration 30-60 minutes or longer if desired)

This activity is designed for general youth settings where you may be unaware of how young people are making sense of many aspects of their developing identities. Be mindful of supporting how the group approaches this activity. Only undertake the activity if it feels safe for the group as a whole to undertake.

The purpose of the activity is to understand other people’s experiences and develop both awareness and empathy. It creates a safe space to discuss the significance of the issues involved, supports openness through dialogue and develops visual and emotional literacy.

This activity is best delivered directly after the Discussion activities in this section.

Look at, Read, Listen to

1. Give everyone a sheet of paper and ask each person to split it into 4 quarters.

In the top left quarter write – ACCEPTED: HOW I FELT.

In the top right quarter write – NOT ACCEPTED: HOW I FELT.

In the lower left quarter write – ACCEPTED: WHAT THIS ENABLED ME TO DO.

In the lower right quarter write – ACCEPTED: WHAT THIS STOPPED ME DOING.

2. The group is split into pairs. Each pair should discuss what they have written. Next, the pairs choose an emotion for each of the top quadrants and also a situation for each of the lower quadrants. For example, the emotion might be ‘isolated’ and the situation ‘not having friends that you can be really honest with’. Or the emotion might be ‘excited’ and the situation ‘being allowed to go out with my friends’.

3. Each pair must now select one emotion/situation that they would like to represent visually, together constructing a single photographic image that tells the story of the situation and conveys the emotion.

4. Ask each pair to make decisions about the:

  • Location (indoors or outside?)
  • Characters (including pose, facial expression, costume)
  • Props (objects, furniture)
  • Framing (what else is in the picture? Making a viewfinder can help the decision)
  • Lighting (you can make use of natural light/shade, or lamps to help convey mood)

Pairs might take lots of photographs, and try lots of different ideas, but should together decide which is their best shot and be prepared to explain their decision.

5. Once the group has finished, print out or download their final images.  As each pair presents their final image, others in the group can try to guess the emotion/situation before the presenting pair talk about their work.

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