GCSE Photography

Art and Photography provides our pupils with a range of different ways to express their individual creativity. It also aims to enable pupils to develop a natural sense of wonder and curiosity about the world they see around them. Through studying a diverse range of artists throughout history pupils will develop their critical thinking and cultural appreciation. Contemporary artists and google itself also provide inspiration and stimulus for pupils to aspire towards.

Pupils will develop proficiency in drawing, painting, understanding colour and shade, photography and its manipulations. They will be given opportunities to experiment, invent and create their own works of art in the styles of artists studied. Skills developed here can be transferred to many subjects and into the future; resilience, independence, analytical and reflective skills and most of all ambition.

Progression into KS4 art or photography provides more opportunities to look deeper into the culture and inspirations behind artists’ work. Analysis using key art vocabulary is included in all projects, alongside the history of the artist, and the meaning communicated within the images.

Areas of study

In Component 1 and Component 2 students are required to work in one or more area(s) of photography, such as those listed below:

  • portraiture
  • location photography
  • studio photography
  • experimental imagery
  • installation
  • documentary photography
  • photo-journalism
  • moving image: film, video and animation
  • fashion photography.

They may explore overlapping areas and combinations of areas.

Knowledge, understanding and skills

Students must develop and apply the knowledge, understanding and skills specified in the Subject content to realise personal intentions relevant to photography and their selected area(s) of study.

The following aspects of the knowledge, understanding and skills are defined in further detail to ensure students’ work is clearly focused and relevant to photography.

Knowledge and understanding

The way sources inspire the development of ideas, relevant to photography including:

  • how sources relate to historical, contemporary, social, cultural and issues-based contexts and external considerations such as those associated with the cultural industries and client-oriented requirements
  • how ideas, themes, subjects and feelings can inspire creative responses informed by different styles, genres and aesthetic considerations and/or an individual’s distinctive view of the world.

The ways in which meanings, ideas and intentions relevant to photography can be communicated include the use of:

  • figurative and non-figurative forms, image manipulation, close up, and imaginative interpretation
  • visual and tactile elements such as:
    • colour
    • line
    • form
    • tone
    • texture
    • shape
    • pattern
    • composition
    • scale
    • sequence
    • surface
    • contrast.


Within the context of photography, students must demonstrate the ability to:

  • use photographic techniques and processes, appropriate to students’ personal intentions, for example:
    • lighting
    • viewpoint
    • aperture
    • depth of field
    • shutter speed and movement
    • use of enlarger
    • chemical and/or digital processes
  • use media and materials, as appropriate to students’ personal intentions, for example:
    • film
    • photographic papers
    • chemicals appropriate to darkroom practices
    • digital media, programs and related technologies
    • graphic media for purposes such as storyboarding, planning and constructing shoots