This is Me! Create a Picture Frame Inspired By Your Family

Make a funky photo frame portrait that connects to your sense of home

Atong Atem Adut and Bigoa 2015 courtesy of the artist and MARS Gallery © Atong Atem

What's in a portrait?

We all like taking selfies! But a photo of ourselves can be about way more than just us - it could connect us to our families, communities and homelands. Check out this picture by Australian and South Sudanese photographer Atong Atem - she has asked her Australian friends to pose, but through their jewellery and traditional fabric patterns she references African history. It's a bit like a conversation between past and present! By playing around with how different items appear within the frame, or 'composition', Atong is introducing the idea that our relationship with home might not be fixed, but contain lots of different histories that have been past down to us. Can you think of all the places you're connected to through family and friends?

You will need:

  • A special item that reminds you of home or your culture/s
  • A camera, phone or laptop
  • Printer and paper
  • 1 x picture frame (we've used wooden 4 x 6 inch)
  • Paints and brushes
  • Crayons
  • PVA glue
  • Scissors
  • Other crafty things to decorate your frame (tape, paper and fabric work well)
  • You can also think about what you'd like to wear in your photo!

Watch the film and follow along, or use the steps below

Let's get started!

1. To start, take a look at the item you've chosen and ask yourself some questions. Who gave you the item? Why is it important, what stories does it tell?

2. Notice colours, shapes and patterns. Which ones do you like best? If these patterns have special meanings, you can think about which ones you'd like to share

3. Time to decorate your frame! Using the patterns and colours you've picked, re-create them with the crayons, materials and paints on your frame. You can change them slightly to give them a twist, or keep them the same, it's up to you!

4. When you're finished with the frame, leave it to dry. Start thinking about your portrait - maybe you can find a fun backdrop to stand against or do it in a part of your house that has family memories. Do you want to be fun, or powerful? Try out different movements and costumes!

5. Ask a friend, caregiver or family member to take a picture of you (or you can use a self-timer)

6. Print it out and put your picture in your finished frame!

There you have it, your very own self-portrait inspired by family roots! What other stories can you share through photography?

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