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Self-Portrait Silhouettes: Activity 2

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    The Exploratorium

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Self-Portrait Silhouettes: Activity 2

In this activity, learners make a photographic image—without a camera! Using sunlight, sun-print paper, and their hand or foot to block the light, learners create wonderful silhouette-like images known as photograms. In this example, the light-blocking object is a body part—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 6 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • sun-print paper
  • pushpins
  • bright sunlight (this works best around noon, from late spring to early fall
  • a piece of cardboard larger than the paper
  • your hand or foot
  • a tray of water


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

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Outdoor Activity
  • 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


  • All Rights Reserved, Exploratorium,


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