How do you capture a really great picture of someone, an image that tells a story or evokes an emotion? Pupils discovered some top tips when award winning photographer, Anita Corbin, came into school for a portrait photography workshop and to talk about her First Women exhibition. First Women is a collection of 100 portraits, taken over 10 years, of inspirational women who were first in their field.

The afternoon started with 12 enthusiastic girls arriving at the art department clutching their cameras. The theme for the workshop was Visible Girls after one of Anita’s own exhibitions in which she studied young women in the 1980s. In pairs, the girls had to get to know one another by asking a list of questions, they then had to spend a challenging whole minute, in silence, studying their partners’ face. The purpose of these tasks was to gain a deeper understanding of their subject so they might better be able to capture the essence of them. After imparting some top photography tips Anita sent the girls to take pictures of each other and then pictures of the girls in their pairs. On returning to the classroom there was much to discuss about how they could improve their portrait pictures both in terms of composition and editing.

Pupil, Caitlin aged 11 said, “I was so excited to hear we had the chance to work with a professional photographer. I received a new camera for Christmas and couldn’t wait to learn how to achieve some great pictures. Today, I learnt how important it is to talk to the person you are photographing and to focus on little details to tell a story, it was a really interesting day.”

After the workshop Anita spoke to parents and pupils about her First Women exhibition. She explained how, from the age of four, she had been inspired by her father who was a horticultural photographer and that she had her first photograph published at the age of 22. The First Women exhibition was to commemorate 100 years of women’s suffrage as an inspiration to future generations to show what women can achieve. The collection covers women of all ages, ethnicities and from all types of industries and backgrounds, from being the first woman president of the Royal College of Surgeons to the first woman to ride in the Grand National; a Dean Close mother was also one of the subjects! Each woman had her own story to tell, including some well-known individuals; Rt. Hon. Nicola Sturgeon SMP and Baroness Betty Boothroyd OM PC – who is also the patron of this extraordinary project.