Teaching Materials - Exercise

The composition series (1) Looking for characters

Name of Artist Educator: Thomas Lin
Excercise Category: Class Prelude

To actualize the imagination by giving characters, life and meaning to the object.

Concept / Inspiration:

To actualize the imagination by giving characters, life and meaning to the object.

Composition is the key to achieve our imagination. We can use images to endow the object with character, life and meaning. The instructor believes that cameras and smart phones are capable enough to deal with exposure and shutter. Therefore, learning composition is the first step for a beginner. Afterwards, having good practice of composition would eventually develop into their own shooting style. There are methods and principles to follow, i.e. golden ratio, the law of diagonal, etc. However, these methods are not expressive enough to illustrate the ever changing world. Over-relying on the law would make the image rigid. Thomas believes the key concept of composition is the relationship between the camera and the photographers themselves. The photographers have to pay attention to the shape of the frame. It is a rectangle which is different from human’s range of visibility.  People only focus on a certain point when they looking at images. However, camera is relatively objective. It could capture the background which no one would normally notice. Therefore, the instructor hopes that students could take a closer look of the object that they want to capture and observe the specific part of the object. They should build up a habit of using rectangular frame and crop out the unwanted parts.


To train students’ composition and imagination

Materials / Equipment:

  • Camera


Classroom, at school

Workshop Description:

  1. Students search for objects from the campus which look like a face and capture them. There should not be any symbols of emotions on the objects, i.e. pictures, portraits, etc. In the process, students need to learn how to control the environment and choose the objects that they want to include in the picture. They also have to learn how to include the most important and the most beautiful things into the picture and exclude unimportant or unrelated things.
  2. Student sharing. Students explain the moments when they take photographs, such as the imagined artistic conception, the mood that have been captured, the facial expression, personalities of the character and the composition.

Note 1: Lin has created a series of exercises which are all related to compositions. The order of the exercise are marked according to the level ascendingly, i.e. from simple to difficult.
Note 2: The exercise could be carried out outdoor such as places which students are not familiar with. This could stimulate their curiosity and imagination. In the sample, Lin brought students to Tai O.

Expected Outcome:

The exercise is flexible which suits for both beginners and those who had some skills. The requirement of the composition can be easy or it can be strict. It depends on the target learners.

Actual Outcome:

All students were able to grasp the ideas and meet the requirement of the practice. Most studeents explored the human form from tiny objects, such as electric switches and light switch. Some students could also use several different objects to assemble pattern from a large environment. This approach involves stronger observation and imagination. And the position is more critical.


Tsui Chun Wang

Ho Hoi Yan
ho hoi yan

Yeung Ka Yi
yeung ka yi

Cheung Chung Yan

Wu Ka Wai

Student Feedback:

“I like the environment in Tai O. This is so different from classroom. This is relaxing.”

“It is interesting to dig out objects and trails of human activity in a strange place.”

Reference Materials:

Online resources﹕

Finding Faces 1 Finding Faces 2

Finding Faces 3 Finding Faces 4

Finding Faces 5 Finding Faces 6

Finding Faces 7 Finding Faces 8

Finding Faces 9