Create a Portrait

Free with Museum Admission 

Just as Robert Mapplethorpe was inspired by an earlier generation of portrait photographers, we hope you are inspired by the works in this exhibition. This studio is set up for you to consider the choices photographers make and create a portrait for yourself. The essential tools are provided for you to play and experiment. Choose a backdrop, turn the lights on or off, work with your subject to determine how he or she will be represented, compose your image, and capture the moment with the camera provided or use your own.

A portrait does more than capture a likeness: it offers a glimpse into the individuality of the sitter. The photographer makes a series of formal choices (lighting, background, composition, black-and-white or color) as well as emotional and aesthetic choices (gesture, posture) to portray the subject. Is the image formal, designed to flatter? Or a paparazzi snapshot intended to disarm and discredit? Portraiture is a collaboration between the photographer and the sitter, melding intention with performance in order to create a persona or expose a truth.

SJMA Portraits Group Pool on Flickr

Share Your Portrait

Use your own camera to take a portrait and share it with your friends.

Post your picture on your own Facebook page and on SJMA’s wall.
Join SJMA’s Flickr group SJMA Portraits and post your picture.
Tweet your picture with the hashtag #sjmapix

See Your Portrait


Portraits taken on the camera provided by the San Jose Museum of Art may be uploaded to and the Museum’s Facebook and Flickr pages.