Digital Media E-5: Exploring Digital Media
Harvard Extension School
Spring 2023
Assignment 4: Portraits
Due 4:00pm ET on Monday, February 27
Submit this assignment at:
🎥 Watch the assignment Walkthrough video 🎥


For this assignment, shooting in JPEG mode is expected, though you may shoot in RAW if you wish (and know how to process jpgs).

A portrait is defined as “a painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person”.

A portrait is much more than a quick snapshot of someone. Portraits should say something about the subject and the relationship created between the subject and the photographer. What does the body language of the subject tell you about the person? The angle of the camera? The background? What has been included, or perhaps excluded from the frame?

Choose a subject (a person) to photograph, this can be someone you know or a stranger on the street (so long as they agree!). For this assignment, we want you to submit only 3 photos of your subject in a composed portrait. We request that you use a human subject, not a pet or an object, and they must agree to be photographed. We want you to work with someone with whom you can collaborate and give direction.

For the 3 images, give us:

  • A wider shot
    • Use the environment to express something about your subject.
  • A full to medium shot
    • You should be focused on the person.
  • A close-up of a detail
    • A piece of the body such as hands, face or a detail that tells us about the person.

Given that you only need to submit 3 images, we expect you to spend time making each one. There is no specific guideline as to exactly how to shoot your photos; we encourage you to challenge yourself to get creative and to push yourself to make a well-composed frame. You’re welcome to search for other portraits and even recreate ideas from others so long as you are taking new photographs for this assignment. National Geographic has some handy tips for getting started.


  • Leave feedback per the Leave Feedback portion of this assignment
  • Submit 3 photos of the same person told in 3 different images
    • wide
    • medium
    • tight
  • Photos should be framed with intention. That is to say, we don’t want quick snapshots from your phone. We want you to work with your subject to place them in such a way that your frame tells us something about them. Give thought to your focal length and what it does to your frame. Think about your foreground and background and your overall composition.
  • Name your photos firstname_lastname_<size>_assignment4.jpg
    • Where firstname is your first name
    • Where lastname is your last name
    • For example: dan_coffey_wide_assignment4.jpg for Dan’s wide shot
  • Upload your photos to Canvas for submission (link at the top of this document)

As always, please email us with any questions!