KS3-5 Art & Photography

Year 7 - 13

Free art and photography workshops led by professional artists and photographers

At the National Portrait Gallery, we offer a significant programme for the interpretation of art and photography including practical workshops gallery tours, talks and study days.


The National Portrait Gallery has an extensive permanent photographic portrait collection, as well as displaying temporary photographic exhibitions.

Students work in our studio workshop space using large-format and/or digital cameras, using studio lighting to create their own portraits, taking on the roles of photographers, stylists and models.

Students develop ideas, improve technical skills with formal elements, and make connections between their own outcomes and the artists' approach.

Please see here for photography-based Gallery sessions

Our new Photography resource set Portrait Photography - From the Victorians to the Present Day is now available for teachers

Hana Knizova, Elza and Nellie from the series Family Matters June 2013  Price Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013 New Work Award.

Hana Knizova, Elza and Nellie from the series Family Matters June 2013
Price Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013 New Work Award.

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014

December Mon 8/Tues 9/Wed 10

Half day workshops 10.30 -12.30 or 13.30-15.30

Responding to key photographs in the Gallery’s annual photographic competition, students experiment with composition, pose, setting, props and lighting in a professional studio atmosphere.

Minimum of 15, maximum of 20 students per workshop.

Photography Study Day

Our new Photography resource set Portrait Photography - From the Victorians to the Present Day is now available for teachers

First Prize: Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow
by David Titlow,
2014 © David Titlow

Meet the Artist

Meet the Artist is a unique opportunity for students to connect with practising artists who are associated with the National Portrait Gallery through exhibitions, commissions, and portrait prize programmes. Dates for ‘ Meet the Artist’ sessions are released throughout the academic year please check our website regularly, sign up to the schools termly newsletters or follow us on twitter for updates @NPGLondon #NPGSchools






Gallery Discovery Tours & Talks

Suitable for KS3 +


An explorative, lively gallery tour, engaging students directly with works from our permanent Collection.  Responding to a wide range of learning models to develop individual thinking and ideas.

Gallery Discovery Tour: 1 hour, maximum 25 students

Collection Illustrated Talks

We offer lecture theatre based discussions. Looking works from and beyond our Collection to explore a theme. Held in the Ondaatje Wing Lecture Theatre, these talks are ideal for larger classes or groups of classes and a great starter for before Gallery visits or drawing activities.

Illustrated Talks : 1 hour, maximum 138


Sketchbook Skills

Suitable for GCSE or A-Level.

All sessions Monday to Wednesday 14:00 – 15:00

Led by our Learning Freelancer team of artists and teachers, these sessions aim to sharpen your students’ observation and sketchbook skills, giving students’ new ways to develop their sketchbooks in the Gallery spaces.  

Fashion and Adornment 

In the Gallery’s Collection, clothes, accessories, jewels and makeup can be seen to reinforce character and status. Students are encouraged to explore and interpret different styles of fashion, adornment and costume from the Tudors to Contemporary Portraits.  

Image and Identity
Who are you?

Young people are continuously exploring how to convey to others who they are and what they feel. Our Learning Freelancers use a variety of teaching models, including object association to promote lively discussion and enquiry, exploring ways in which portraits of British achievers from our time and from history can be interpreted in terms of the sitter's own image and identity.

The Self-Portrait - Look at me, what do you see?

Discover the mood, form and process behind some of the most interesting self- portraits in our Collection. Exploring self-presentation and context, students are encouraged to enquire through a variety of learning models including discussion, object association and interpretation.

The Photographic Portrait

Students observe samples from the Gallery’s Collection to explore and make connections between a wide variety of forms and processes, considering the relationships between contemporary approaches and older works to express their own ideas and observations.

Signs and Symbols

Can you crack the codes?

Artists have used the language of visual symbols for centuries, for example, a rose or a skull can suggest love or death. Explore symbolism in portraits from the Tudors to the contemporary collection, detecting hidden meanings and messages.

The Abstract Portrait

Starting with Patrick Heron, students explore and discuss the use of abstraction in portraiture, through observing a variety of portraits.

The 3D Portrait

Students respond to a variety of sculptures in the gallery, discussing the different techniques and approaches taken by the artist to depict a portrait in three-dimensions.

20th Century Portraits

Students are given the opportunity to discuss the context and content of key examples in the Gallery’s extensive twentieth-century portrait collection.

For talks on our temporary Exhibitions and Displays, please go to Exhibitions & Introductory Talks

Image banner: Photograph Marysa Dowling ©National Portrait Gallery, London