Self-Portrait Silhouettes: Activity 1

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In this activity, learners make a photographic image--without a camera! Using a light source, an object to block the light, and light-sensitive paper, learners create wonderful silhouette-like images known as photograms. In this example, the light-blocking object is a person--but you can use any object that strikes your fancy. Experiment!

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • photographic paper
  • pushpins
  • a safelight
  • a flash, and a friend to pop the flash (alternative: a bare light bulb in a socket or a clamp-on light
  • a room that you can make completely dark


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
      • Perception
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics

Informal Categories

  • Photography and Film/Video


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Snyder, Amy