Undergraduate Degree




DP3003 Narrative Portraits

[Studio Contact Hours: 39 hours; Pre-requisites: DP2000 or DP2001; Academic Unit: 3.0]



DP2000 or DP2001

Academic Unit


3 AU

Course Description


Learning Objective

To deliver to students an overview of the theory and practice of portrait photography.


This course will investigate the physical space between the subject and the photographer, and the psychological space between the identity of the subject and the perceptive faculties of the photographer. The class discussions and demonstrations will include how to approach, direct and collaborate with subjects, working with different light sources, and the examination of the visual elements of portraiture such as pose, expression, props and environment. Students will learn to acquire a balance between social and technical skills so that they can engage with the subject in a meaningful way and create compelling portraits.

Course Outline




• Intro to course

2 - 6

• Course overview and expectations

• ‘Portrait photo as scientific data’

• ‘Fantasy Portraits’

• Gender, culture and race


• Mid Sem review of assignments

8 - 12

• Location shooting

• Ethics and the consent form

• ‘Landscape as Portrait’

• Portrait retouching, advanced masking, lens selection

• Digital workflow and file management 

• Printing in class


• Final review of assignments

Learning Outcome

The students will have acquired an overview of portraiture as practiced within the photographic milieu. The students will have an introductory knowledge of the many technical and social skills needed to bridge the subjective and objective gap between the artist and their human subject.

Student Assessment

  1. Final Assessment: 40%

  2. Continuous Assessment: 60% (of which at least 15% is participation)

Continuous assessment components may include:

  • Studio-based exercises and projects

  • Individual, group and team-based assignments


      1. Rosewell Angier, Train Your Gaze: A Practical and Theoretical Introduction to Portrait Photography, An AVA boo​k publisher

      2. Joe McNally, The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes, New Riders Press