How do you play? Where do you play? Who and what do you play with? What were your favourite games growing up? Did you make up your own games?
The things we play with have changed over time, but has the way that we play changed too? Toys, board games, gaming, outdoor play – which of these things would be unrecognisable to our grandparent’s generation? How many will look different again in the future?
Use these challenges and tips to help you document what play means to you through photography.
PHOTO CHALLENGE ONE: Where do you play?
Photograph the places where you play. Choose a location and spend time documenting it with your camera. What did you play here? Try creating a series of images, collage them together, or simply choose the image that best represents it.
PHOTO CHALLENGE TWO: How do you play?
Every game or playful activity has a process made up of various elements, actions or rules. Experiment with capturing the processes of your own games today in different ways. What is it that might be unique to you and your friends or family?
PHOTO CHALLENGE THREE: Capturing Play
When we play we are often very animated. Whether it’s a sports or card game or just messing around with your friends, there’s always movement, physical expression and gesturing. Think about favourite games with family or friends. Who is the most competitive? Who really concentrates on their strategy? Try capturing those animated moments.
Do you always play the same board game with your Grandparents? Or play card games that you and your friends made up? Are they unique to your circle of friends or family, or perhaps played for generations? Capture those special moments of play. Consider your point of view, what’s in the background and composition (how things are arranged).
PHOTO CHALLENGE FOUR: Playful Triptych
Create a triptych (a set of three images) that capture the different stages of a game that you and your friends or family always play. The challenge is how to choose only three images that tell the story of your game.
PHOTO CHALLENGE FIVE : Playful Memories
What games did you play when you were young? Have you any strong memories of games you played with friends or family? Create a photograph that portrays this memory. For example, how did it feel playing hide & seek? Create an atmosphere in your photograph with lighting, staging, pose, costume or point of view.
- Find new angles and points of view. Try lying on your back each time you take a photo.
- Look for the detail and capture them in close-up.
- Play with shadow and light – early in the morning or the last hours of sunlight when long shadows are cast.
- Find new ways of looking at a familiar pastime.
- Have a go at re-staging games with your friends or family – photograph them!
- Embrace and experiment with the blur of trying to capture motion.
- Jan Von Hollenben
- Kito Fujio
- Garrod Kirkwood
- Alice Mann
- Mike Blabc
- Sarah Stacke
- Mark Neville
- Abelardo Morell
- Myles Loftin
- Julie Blackmon
- Jesse Burke
- Gabriele Galimberti
- Play Well at the Wellcome Collection (Exhibition)
Need some inspiration?
Visit: Down House, Kent
Down House was the family home of Charles Darwin. The Darwin children loved their childhood in the Kent countryside. Their recollections later in life would describe in detail the joy of swinging from a rope fastened to the ceiling on the first-floor landing, or throwing lead darts at one another along the corridor – dangerous maybe, but Charles and Emma did give them wooden shields with which to defend themselves.Learn More
A Life Size Wendy House
Visit: Osborne House (Swiss Cottage), Isle of Wight
The Swiss Cottage was the playhouse for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s nine children, built at Prince Albert’s instruction in the grounds of Osborne. The children escaped there as much possible and later most of them brought their own children back to play.Learn More
2,000 Years of Board GamesLearn More
During this period of isolation, many households in Britain are turning to board games for entertainment. The first known board games originated from Egypt around 5,500 years ago and have evolved across cultures and societies ever since. Read about the games associated with English Heritage sites and try some for yourself.
The Monopoly ChallengeLearn More
Be inspired by the teenager who visited every English Heritage site in the special edition Monopoly game.
Viking GamesLearn More
Enjoy some ancient entertainment by playing a real Viking board game! Hnefatafl (pronounced ‘neva tapl’), means ‘The King’s Table’ in Old Norse and is a game of tactics and skill!