Thinking about ‘Identity’ – Year 11 GCSE Photography resource

So, your first project (30% of your total mark) is ‘Identity’. Although you’re taking photos, this project is quite sociological, so you could think of yourself as a sociologist or investigative journalist. The better your research, the better your project will be and part of that research is about YOU. To complete this project properly, you will need to research three photographers. This is independent research, but to help you get started I’ve included a few suggestions in this post.

How to begin: as I mentioned in class, we all have complex identities. A bit like this…


As a starting point you could look at food, clothing, race/heritage, family, friends, hobbies/interests.

It’s important to remember that you need to do a photoshoot inspired by each of the three photographers you choose. Therefore you might want to pick photographers who use simple ideas and a clear vision to communicate their ideas and this is an important aspect of photography – COMMUNICATING YOUR VISUAL IDEAS SIMPLY.


daily bread_gregg segal

Daily Bread by Gregg Segal uses very effective visual techniques to show what we eat.




Hasan Hajjaj has a very graphic approach to his portraits. You could create colourful designs with pens and card, cut out your portraits and stick them onto your designs or create using Pixlr.




Jamel Shabazz is well-known for the street portraits he took in the 1980s. The late 70s and 80s saw the birth of Hip Hop and much of Shabazz’s portraits show Hip Hop fashion.


Constructed reality

Sory Sanle1

Sory Sanlé is a photographer from Burkino Faso and like Malick Sidibé owned a photography studio. Sanlé said, ‘We fulfilled people’s fantasies. We gave them a chance to experiment, to escape their ordinary lives. The aeroplane backdrop was particularly popular’. You might want to dress up, create a look, become a character from your past, as part of your project. We could create a backdrop for your shoot, or you could create one with card. It could even be 3D, like you get in children’s pop-up books.


Performance Art


Cindy Sherman is an artist whose entire career has been dedicated to making self-portraits of herself, meaning that ‘identity’ is a key theme running through her work. In one series of work she presented herself as the subject of various paintings. We’ve been to The National Gallery in order to find a portrait to influence/inspire your own self-portrait. You could use the portrait you chose as a photoshoot inspired by the work of this artist.


Story – telling (writing on your photograph)

Jim Goldberg

Jim Goldberg is a wonderful story-teller and is well-known for getting the subjects of his photos to write their thoughts on them. The photograph above is a portrait of an Afghan refugee. The writing is in Pashtun and describes his journey from Afghanistan to Europe.

Other photographers that you could look at include…

August Sander2_brick layer

August Sander


Dana Lixenberg

Rineke Dijkstra_bull fighters

Rineke Dijkstra


Remember: you can be inspired by any form of art and include this in your sketchbook. You could use: drawing, paint, graffiti, collage, screen grabs (video, film, computer games), writing, poetry, song lyrics… BUT remember that you are doing a photography course.

It will be interesting to see which photographers you choose (these photographers are just suggestions) and what your finished projects look like!


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