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Blackfen School for Girls

Blackfen School for Girls

Raising aspirations - releasing potential

Photography A Level



Exam Board: AQA

Why study this subject: 

Students will be introduced to a range of stimulating photographic opportunities that will explore how lighting, lens, camera functions, digital and traditional techniques are used to manipulate imagery. 

Photography is more than documenting and recording. Students are required to develop personal, meaningful, conceptual ideas, technically accomplished and individual approaches that reflect their creative styles and visual interests. 

Personal skills that will be challenged and developed: 

  • Critical, analytical and practical problem solving 
  • Risk taking
  • Rigorous self-evaluation and critical reflection 
  • Organisation skills, planning and time management 
  • Working independently and collaboratively
  • Presentation skills and public speaking
  • Literacy communication through technical descriptions, reports, essays and a mini dissertation

All components are created on PowerPoint, supported by a professional portfolio. Students are required to pay for the costing of final outcome prints and a starting pack


Project 1:  Formal Elements (96 marks - 60% of A-level)

Project 1 workshops explore, develop and fine-tune fundamental camera skills and functions. 

Blackfen student examples:

Students will be exploring the following topics within this project:

  • Composition theories
  • ISO 
  • Aperture / depth of field 
  • Fast and slow shutter speed 
  • Post production techniques using editing software:  Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

Project 2: Movement  

Students will further their knowledge of shutters speed and create a body of work exploring long or fast exposures. They will take inspirations from contextual artists, working independently and developing their own path of exploration.

Blackfen student examples:


Project 3: 

Subject teachers will provide five topics from which pupils will choose a topic of choice to conduct a sustained project. Pupils will decide their own choice of medium and postproduction.

Project 3 incorporates two elements: practical work and a written investigation (500 – 1000-word essay).

 Blackfen student examples:

Project 4:  Personal Investigation (60 %)

Students are required to conduct a practical investigation, into an idea, issue, concept or theme, supported by written material. (1000–3000-word essay).

The focus of the investigation must be identified independently by the student and must lead to a finished outcome or a series of related finished outcomes.

Areas of study: Students are required to work in one of the areas of photography, such as those listed below.

  • Portraiture
  • Landscape photography (working from the urban, rural and/or coastal environment)
  • Still life photography
  • Documentary photography,
  • photojournalism
  • Fashion photography
  • Experimental imagery
  • Multimedia
  • Photographic installation
  • Moving image (video, film, animation).
  • Micro photography
  • Fast/slow shutter speed


External Set Paper February year 13

Students will choose one topic out of five thematic titles set from AQA and explore that concept with their choice of media and postproduction. evidence of their ability to work independently within specified time constraints, developing a personal and meaningful response which addresses all the assessment objectives and leads to a finished outcome or a series of related finished outcomes.

Students will undertake a 15-hour exam in a controlled environment, under the standards and conditions set by the AQA exam board.

•  Preparatory period 14 weeks + 15 hours supervised time

•  96 marks

•  40% of A-level

Post Education:

Art and photography degrees teach problem solving, teamwork, independence and self-motivation qualities that every employer is looking for. In fact, the Telegraph recently listed Art/ photography graduates in the top 10 most employable.

This course can lead to a college or foundation course leading to careers in Art:

    • Media planner
    • Multimedia specialist
    • Stylist
    • Visual merchandiser
    • Web content manager
    • Web designer
    • Crime scene/ forensic photographer
    • Media photography
    • Journalistic photography or art-based media
    Graphic designer
  • Magazine features editor
  • Medical illustrator/ photographer
  • Photographer
  • Press photographer
  • Television camera operator
  • Advertising art director
  • Digital marketer
  • Film director
  • Film/video editor