A resource featuring simple suggestions for creating portraits of people in your life that are important to you – family, friends or carers.

Part of England’s New Lenses



What do we mean by household? Everyone’s household is unique. Some of us live with family, others with friends, housemates or carers. Our families may not be the ones we are born into. Households can be created through circumstance or made up of people we have chosen to live with.

Use the resources below to find out how you can use photography to create a portrait of your household and explore your Untold Heritage.

Document Your Household

Capture your household candidly with a documentary-style approach. Why not set yourself the challenge of documenting ‘A day in the life’ of your household. Set some rules to help you stay focused. You could take a photograph every hour, only photograph from doorways, or perhaps photograph every mealtime.

Video: © Saturday Club Portraits of Households in Lockdown. Young people with Lindsey Smith, Photoworks and the University of Brighton

Re-Portray A Loved One

Combine objects with photographs to create a new portrait. Find or take a photograph of a member of your household. Collect and arrange small items that relate to them such as pasta, jigsaw pieces or Lego. Select a backdrop –something personal like a scarf or blanket. Re-photograph it.

Re-Portray Your Loved One

Play with environment or sense of place to create a brand new portrait of a loved one. Choose a photograph you really like. Find a location that says something about the person in the photograph, situate the photograph in that location then re-photograph it.

Household Portraits

Make a household portrait without including your subject in it. Instead carefully select and arrange items to represent them. Find their favourite spot to stage your surreal photograph, or choose a backdrop that represents them. Experiment by adding text such as a favourite phrase, description or memory.

Homage Portrait

Celebrate someone in your household with an homage (tribute) by arranging items you connect with them around their portrait. Add text about why they are special, and re-photograph it.

Photo Text Portrait

Create a photo-text image using a Smartphone. Take or choose a photograph of someone in your household. Write down as many sentences as you can about that person. Select your favourite one and add it to the photo. There are lots of Apps you can use to add text.

Photo Tree

Create a photo-montage portrait of your household. Look through old photographs, or take new ones. Line up and connect different parts of each photograph to create a new image that you then photograph. You could also do this digitally. There are lots of Apps you can use.

Top Tips
  • It’s okay if you don’t have any photographs of your household, you can do these challenges digitally.
  • Follow our photo challenges to create individual or group portraits. You could make a new portrait of your household. Choose a backdrop and props then set it up. Direct where and how you want people to pose and interact.
  • Try experimenting with drawing, writing, sewing or painting onto your photographs.
  • Be inspired by English Heritage! Have fun recreating a famous artwork from an English Heritage site with your household. Set it up, dress up and take a group photograph.
  • Take care selecting props or texts. What has meaning? Did your housemate take part in Greta Thunberg’s School Strike for Climate Change? Does your sister always go to Pride? Does your household attend BLM marches? Adding visual clues will make your portrait really personal.
  • Make good use of mirrors, shadow and lighting for dramatic effect.
  • Portraits don’t have to focus on faces. Gesturing hands, shadows of hands, or including arms or legs can instead represent your subject.
Inspiring Artists
English Heritage Sites

Works of Art
Kenwood House, Hampstead

Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait with Two Circles in the Iveagh Bequest atKenwood. Rembrandt is one of the most celebrated artists in history. This self-portrait, one of his last, depicts him as a painter, plainly dressed in working clothes holding the tools of his trade. The two symbolic circles are most likely clues to his profession, although nobody is exactly sure.

LGBTQ+ Families
Chiswick House, London

The people in our household and our everyday relationships are familiar to us but in the future might be interpreted very differently. In the 18th century, LGBTQ+relationships were not conducted openly, but among fashionable women, same-sex ‘romantic friendship’ was accepted. One famous case of such friendship was linked with Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire at Chiswick House.

Modern Households
Kenwood House, Hampstead

Dido Elizabeth Belle grew up in Georgian Britain raised by her legal guardian and great-uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield at Kenwood House. It was extremely unusual for a mixed-heritage woman to be raised as part of an aristocratic family as a lady at this time.

Adopted Families
Blue Plaque site of the Pankhurst family in Nottinghill

Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel led the militant campaign for women’s right to vote in the early 20th century. Emmeline had five children herself, but during the First World War also cared for and raised four ‘war babies’, children born out of wedlock, later opening a nursery and home for female orphans.

Communal Living
Hadrian’s Wall – Wallsend & South Shields

Many barracks have been found in Roman cavalry forts, such as Chesters on Hadrian’s Wall. The barracks would have been the place where the soldiers sleptand lived together. A tight-knit community. Recent excavations have also proved that Roman cavalry men shared their living spaces with their horses. Being in such close proximity meant soldiers had close bonds with their horses and that the horses  would have been available for instant deployment – a military advantage.

About the Contributors

Annis Joslin’s practice seeks to explore lived experience through a participatory and reflective process. Working in diverse contexts she uses different approaches to generate material, including drawing, animation, photography, video and story-telling to create lens-based digital artwork for galleries, museums, community situations and online.

Her work has exhibited and screened internationally with commissions and projects with organisations including People United, Photoworks, The British Museum, Sussex Partnership NHS Trust, The Royal College of Physicians, The National Trust, The Women’s Library, Project Art Works and The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. Annis is also co-director of Corridor, a social arts organisation that connects artists, people and places through collaborative lens-based visual arts projects.

Alejandra Carles-Tolra is a visual artist and photography facilitator from Barcelona, currently based in London, UK.

She received a BA in Sociology from the University of Barcelona and a Photography MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Alejandra’s work has been published and exhibited internationally, most recently at Vice, The Huffington Post, Gup Magazine, World Photography Organization, The Independent, Circulation(s) Festival in Paris, and Getty Images Gallery in London. She has taught photography at The University of New Hampshire and Massachusetts College of Art and Design, among other institutions. Alejandra currently collaborates with non-profit organizations as an art workshop facilitator using art and education to empower vulnerable communities.

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