Photography offers intrinsic opportunities to pupils who wish to develop a focused set of creative and analytical skills in lens-based media. Within the wider context of Fine Art, analogue and digital photographic technologies are practiced and studied, alongside specialist and experimental approaches such as filmmaking, collage and camera-less methods of image creation. Emphasis is placed on creative exploration and the personal development of ongoing visual ideas, with pupils encouraged to use the camera as a direct means of expressing and recording the world around them. The use of both historical and contemporary artists provides inspiration and contextual understanding for practical work. Pupils are taught aesthetics and to consider the meaning and purpose of the photographic image within contemporary life and society.
A level Photography follows the two-year OCR linear specification. Pupils taking Photography in the Lower Sixth will build practical skills in both analogue and digital technologies. Thematic tasks focusing on specific artistic and technical principles form a significant part of the curriculum, with pupils learning to reflect on those skills and present their visual outcomes across sketchbook and portfolio formats. Through informed research, pupils are taught to analyse their own work in relation to the work of historical or contemporary artists and photographers, making relevant and appropriate connections in both visual and written form.
The Upper Sixth year places greater emphasis on individual ownership of creative ideas. Pupils are provided with an individual studio space in the Art School and teaching is undertaken primarily on a one-to-one basis. Expectations at this stage of the A level course are that pupils will be able to respond with increased skill and visual development. Pupils will produce a personal and meaningful portfolio of work that has been independently researched and refined, including a written component requiring them to set and investigate a research question based on their own photographic work and visual interests. This coursework makes up 60% of the total A level mark. There is also an externally set exam which comprises 40% of the overall mark.
Fine Art and Photography pupils are encouraged to use the Art School facilities during allocated evening prep sessions and at weekends. Pupils who study A level Photography have access to a diverse range of Fine Art materials alongside an outstanding library resource to support their personal study. The Photography Department runs one co-curricular trip per academic year. Previous trips have included the Photographers’ Gallery, Tate Modern, Lacock Abbey Fox Talbot Museum and Kew Gardens. The Art School aims to run an international trip once every two years, in which pupils of Photography are also welcome to participate.
Photography is taught within the Art GCSE and Art A level as part of recording. Lower School pupils have the opportunity to learn within the Department through attendance at weekly afternoon activities and Options run during the Michaelmas and Lent Terms. These classes focus on giving a taster in both analogue and digital techniques alongside more experimental methods of exploring photographic principles and outcomes.