How do you play?

Where do you play?

Who and what do you play with?

What were your favourite games growing up?

Did you make up your own games?

Playing a boardgame

The things we play with have changed over time, but has the way that we play changed too?
Toys, board games, gaming, outdoor play – which of these things would be unrecognisable to our grandparent’s generation? How many will look different again in the future?

Photo challenges

Use these challenges and tips to help you document what play means to you through photography.

Where do you play?

Photograph the places where you play. Choose a location and spend time documenting it with your camera. What did you play here? Try creating a series of images, collage them together, or simply choose the image that best represents it.

How do you play?

Every game or playful activity has a process made up of various elements, actions or rules. Experiment with capturing the processes of your own games today in different ways. What is it that might be unique to you and your friends or family?

Capturing play

When we play we are often very animated. Whether it’s a sports or card game or just messing around with your friends, there’s always movement, physical expression and gesture. Think about favourite games with family or friends. Who is the most competitive? Who really concentrates on their strategy? Try capturing those animated moments.

Board games

Do you always play the same board game with your grandparents? Or play card games that you and your friends made up? Are they unique to your circle of friends or family, or perhaps played for generations? Capture those special moments of play. Consider your point of view, what’s in the background and composition (how things are arranged).

Playful Jenga triptych

Create a triptych (a set of three images) that capture the different stages of a game that you and your friends or family always play. The challenge is how to choose only three images that tell the story of your game.

Playful memories

What games did you play when you were young? Have you any strong memories of games you played with friends or family? Create a photograph that portrays this memory. For example, how did it feel playing hide & seek? Create an atmosphere in your photograph with lighting, staging, pose, costume or point of view.

Person pulling back a curtain in hide and seek

Inspiring Artists

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

Jan Von Hollenben

Kito Fujio

Garrod Kirkwood

Alice Mann

Mike Blabac

Sarah Stacke

Mark Neville

Abelardo Morell

Myles Loftin

Julie Blackmon

Jesse Burke

Gabriele Galimberti

Play-Well at the Wellcome Collection (Exhibition)

Humans have always found a way to play

2,000 Years of Board Games

During lockdown, many households are turned to board games for entertainment. The first known board games originated from Egypt around 5,500 years ago and have evolved across cultures and societies ever since. Read about the games associated with English Heritage sites and try some for yourself.

Running Wild

The Darwin children loved their childhood at Down House in the Kent countryside. They described in detail the joy of swinging from a rope fastened to the ceiling on the first-floor landing and experimenting with the weird and wonderful items collected by Charles.

A Life Size Wendy House

The Swiss Cottage was the playhouse for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s nine children, built at Prince Albert’s instruction in the grounds of Osborne. The children escaped there as much possible and later most of them brought their own children back to play.