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Activity: Take a Portrait of a Friend or Family Member

picture of a self portrait

Learn about Luigi Lucioni’s Portrait of Bob and take your own portraits of family and friends! Create a background, set your lighting, and ask your subject to pose for a photograph. What clothes or objects will they include? What do they want to showcase about themselves?

Look Closer:

Take a look at the person in this painting and think of one word to describe him. Does he seem mysterious, kind, or curious?

Try to mimic the way this person is sitting. How do you feel when you sit this way? How do you typically pose for a picture?

The person in this painting (also called the sitter) is Bob Elsner. Elsner’s partner Ted Staetter was a good friend of the artist Luigi Lucioni. What clues can you find in this painting that show that the artist and sitter know each other?

Lucioni was inspired by early Italian Renaissance painters and liked to incorporate their style by creating realistic and highly detailed work.

Activity: Photograph a Portrait of a Friend or Family Member


  • Fabric with an interesting color, texture, or pattern
  • Light source
  • Colored transparency sheet
  • Objects from around your home that reflect you
  • Fun clothes and accessories
  • Camera or device to take photos



  1. Choose a person to photograph or to be a “sitter.” Would you like to take a photo of your friends, family, or even yourself?
self portrait artmaking image

2. Decide on a place to photograph this person. It could be in a place they enjoy, or you could create your own background. If you want to create a background, try draping a cloth behind your set.

artmaking colors in front of light

3. Find a source of lighting. This could be natural light or you could use lamps from around your home. Arrange the lighting in different ways to see what placement you like best. If you want you can add a colored transparency sheet over the lamp to make your light different colors! This sheet is called a “color gel” or “color filter.”

self portrait artmaking image

4. Ask the sitter to find objects they would like to be photographed with. These objects should be something that shows their personality. This could be a toy, art project, or sports gear. The sitter should also try to wear clothes that represent them.

picture of a self portrait

5. Decide on a pose and snap your photo! 

Have fun exploring! Share your portrait with us on social media – tag #crystalbridges on Instagram.


Written by Marie Hofer, educator, Crystal Bridges.