© Emily Ryalls

A learning resource for teachers supporting students interested in creating a photographic portrait of their high street.  


Picturing High Streets: Some Visual Strategies is about our relationship to place and makes use of photography as a powerful tool through which people can connect with a sense of place, community and the historic environment. 

The resource offers a series of short visual prompts (films) that help students uncover the stories behind the shopfronts and tell the story of their local high street.  

The films aim to help students create a rich and varied picture of their high street. They invite students to explore photography techniques that enable them to look closer at their high street and encourage students to share stories about a place that has significance to them.  

Picturing High Streets was a three year project by Historic England and Photoworks to create a contemporary portrait of England’s high streets. It was part of Historic England’s government-funded High Streets Heritage Action Zones Cultural Programme.

Want more inspiration?  

Inspiring Your Students 

The Picturing High Streets Collection that was created through this project shows England’s high streets in the early 2020s, through the eyes of artists and members of the public. The collection of 377 photographs was created through a series of mass public participation call outs and photographer residencies.  

View the collection here.  

About the contributors 

Alejandra Carles-Tolra 

Alejandra Carles-Tolra is a Spanish visual artist and educator based in London. Questions regarding what defines our identities and the role the group plays in our search for belonging drives her work. Her work is part of Arts Council England’s Collection and the Col·lecció Nacional de Fotografía of Catalunya, and it has been published and exhibited internationally, including Photo Miyota Japan, Somerset House, Finnish Museum of Photography, Wuhan Art Museum and the Jerwood/ Photoworks Awards.   

As an educator she has worked for institutions such as Autograph, UCL, The Photographer’s Gallery, Alexandra Palace, LCC and the National Portrait Gallery designing resources and delivering courses and participatory photography workshops. She has a strong commitment to using photography as a voice and tool of empowerment and collaborates regularly with vulnerable communities from diverse backgrounds, ranging in age, ethnicity, and needs.  

Emily Ryalls 

Emily Ryalls is a Yorkshire based artist, working in a space between photography and performance. Emily’s practice blurs the line between a divided photographer-subject relationship, creating meaningful and collaborative works with a feminist research-based approach. Her work has been published, exhibited, and performed within Europe, including Photo50 at London Art Fair, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, OFF Bratislava, Format Festival, and The Art House. 

As part of the artist’s passion for creating more opportunity and visibility in photography at grassroots level, in 2021, Emily led on the build and development of the fully wheelchair accessible darkroom at the The Art House, which she now programmes, teaches in, and manages alongside her creative practice. It is the only one of its kind in the country, promoting process and learning through memorable interactions and community ethos.  

As an educator, Emily has worked on artist research and participatory photography workshops with institutions such as Sheffield University, NHS Arts & Health programmes, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Huddersfield University, Photoworks, National Coal Mining Museum, and others. 

Ryalls developed this learning resource and teaching model following a workshop series with Outwood Academy Shafton, Barnsley as part of the Picturing High Streets project. 

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