Documenting the people and things in your household, creating a snapshot of the people you live with and care about, those in your life that are important to you.

What do we mean by household?

Everyone’s household is unique. Some of us live with family, others with friends, housemates or carers. Our families may not be the ones we are born into. Households can be created through circumstance, or made up of people we have chosen to live with.

Follow our photo challenges to create individual or group portraits. You could make a new portrait of your household. Choose backdrop and props then set it up. Direct where and how you want people to pose and interact.

Use the resources below to find out how you can use photography to create a portrait of your household and explore your Untold Heritage. Where they involve printed photos you can also use phone and tablet screens.

Photo challenges

Use these short videos to explore your household through photography

Document your household

Capture your household candidly with a documentary-style approach. Why not set yourself the challenge of documenting ‘A day in the life’ of your household.
Set some rules to help you stay focused.
You could take a photograph every hour, only photograph from doorways, or perhaps photograph every mealtime.

Re-Frame Your Loved One Pt 1

Play with environment or sense of place to create a brand new portrait of a loved one. Choose a photograph you really like. Find a location that says something about the person in the photograph, situate the photograph in that location then re-photograph it.

Re-Frame Your Loved One Pt 2

Combine objects with photographs to create a new portrait. Find or take a photograph of a member of your household. Collect and arrange small items that relate to them such as pasta, jigsaw pieces or Lego. Select a backdrop – some-thing personal like a scarf or blanket. Re-photograph it.

Household portrait

Make a household portrait without including your subject in it. Instead, carefully select and arrange items to represent them. Find their favourite spot to stage your surreal photograph, or choose a backdrop that represents them. Experiment by adding text such as a favourite phrase, description or memory.

Homage or Tribute portrait

Celebrate someone in your household with an homage (tribute) by arranging items you connect with them around their portrait. Add text about why they are special and re-photograph it.

Using text with images

Create a photo-text image using a Smartphone. Take or choose a photograph of someone in your household. Write down as many sentences as you can about that person. Select your favourite one and add it to the photo. There are lots of Apps you can use to add text.

Photo tree of family or friends

Create a photo-montage portrait of your household. Look through old photographs, or take new ones. Line up and connect different parts of each photograph to create a new image that you then photograph. You could also do this digitally. There are lots of Apps you can use.

Laying out your tribute photo

Inspiring Artists

In need of some more inspiration have a look at the work of some of the following artists:

Peter Brathwaite (singer & broadcaster)

Jan von Holleben

Celine Marchbank

Dora Maar

Rene Magritte

André Kertész

Abelardo Morel

Laura Alston

Shawn Theodore

Trish Morrissey

Households of all shapes and sizes

Household come in all shapes and sizes and they have done throughout history. Here are a few stories from English Heritages sites and plaques.

Horses for housemates

Many barracks have been found at Roman forts. These were where the soldiers slept and lived together in a tight-knit community. Recent excavations have also found that the cavalrymen shared their living spaces with their horses. Being in such close proximity meant soldiers had close bonds with their horses and that they would have been able to get ready quickly under attack.

'War Babies'

Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel led the militant campaign for women’s right to vote in the early 20th century. Emmeline had five children herself, but during the First World War also cared for and raised four ‘war babies’, children born out of wedlock, later opening a nursery and home for female orphans.

An unusual portrait

Dido Elizabeth Belle was the illegitimate daughter of a black woman named Maria Bell and naval officer Sir John Lindsay, she grew up in Georgian Britain raised by her legal guardian and great-uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield at Kenwood House. It was extremely unusual for a mixed-heritage woman to be raised as part of an aristocratic family as a lady at this time.