Ms. F. Liddiard

Head of Department

Exam Board – AQA Art and Design (Photography)

At Ferndown Upper School students start learning Photography in fortnightly lessons in Year 9, where they develop a basic working knowledge Adobe Photoshop CC to enhance digital images as well as a basic understanding of specialist photographic terminology. Students then have the option to progress to studying the subject at both GCSE and A level.

To provide a broad range of practical experience for our students, we have two purpose built darkrooms with fifteen photographic enlargers in each, as well as a suite of Apple Mac computers for our students to further extend their working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop CC. This also helps broaden their ICT knowledge as they become accustomed to using Mas OS alongside their existing knowledge of Windows systems.

Students take photographs using traditional 35mm black and white film on SLR cameras, they then develop the negatives and produce dark room prints. Students also explore camera-less darkroom photography, including pinhole cameras and photogram techniques. They also learn how to use digital cameras correctly, to take effective photographs. At GCSE students are expected to have their own modest digital cameras and – ideally – access to an old 35mm SLR. (These can be bought second-hand, very reasonably from a range of sources, or borrowed from relatives). A level students ideally need a DSLR to be able to produce work of a sufficiently high quality for the course.

At GCSE, students complete three coursework projects, covering a range of genres. These are ‘Identity’ (portraits), ‘Spaces’ (landscape / environments) and ‘Text and Image’ (conceptual fine art photographic imagery). In the spring term of Year 11, students complete a three month externally set exam project, after choosing from a list of topics set by the AQA exam board. GCSE students then sit a 10 hour practical exam – carried out over two days – in both the Mac suite and darkrooms. There is therefore no final written exam in this subject.

Studying photography helps students develop their ability to communicate through expressive, experimental and narrative images. It builds understanding of the basic concepts of visual language and enable them to learn a wide range of photographic processes and techniques. It also allows them to look at the world around them more critically and encourages them to explore the work of other photographers. In addition, photography students learn how to analyse.