Photo Montages: David Hockney style “joiners” ipad art lesson- Year 5/6

Remote teaching and learning called for some lessons that would be easily done at home with little equipment, just an ipad and a good eye! My students all have ipads, so I devised some art and photography lessons based on David Hockney’s “joiners” or photo-montages that he did in the 1980’s.

Hockney first experimented with photo collages mainly using polaroid photos in grid compositions. Later he used prints of 35mm photographs and created collages with many photos joined and overlapped to recreate the overall scene. Hockney was interested in showing the passing of time (photos were taken over a number of minutes) and often show slightly different perspectives of the subject. There is a cubist style about his joiners as they explore movement as well as fractured parts of a whole.

This was a great unit for the students to use photography, but also learn about an amazing artist. I did lessons where the students had to research David Hockney, view his photo-collages to understand the techniques he used to make them, analyse a chosen work and compare two of Hockney’s photo joiners. Then of course some lessons of actually taking photos and arranging them in Pic Collage. Here is a couple:


Learning Intention: To take photos of an object / outdoor scene in parts to be able to arrange together in a grid and freestyle format to re-create the whole object or scene. Success Criteria: I can take photos of an object / outdoor scene in sections, by zooming in and moving my camera along in lines to take a photo of each part (slightly overlapped) I can arrange the photos into a grid & freestyle format using Pic Collage so it reassembles the whole object /scene.

First lesson I introduced the students to David Hockney’s photo-collages which he termed “joiners”, explaining the two types- which I called ‘grid style’ (which his polaroid photos) and ‘freestyle’ where he overlapped and joined the photos. First you need to choose a household object to photograph (teapot, pot plant, clock, large toy, chair etc.) I demonstrated on a video how to photograph an item in sections: 3×3 (9 photos) with an ipad and then using those photos to arrange in the PicCollage app into a ‘grid’ format and then a ‘freestyle’ format. Here are some student examples:

Another lesson was to do a freestyle collage of an outdoor scene, like their backyard, the front of their house, the street, a park or playground. For this one they could do more photos, but they still need to take them carefully moving the camera along and then down to the next row. It doesn’t matter if the edges of the collage are uneven.


I have a 7 lesson /activity Unit Plan below that I did all by remote with my Year 5-6 students. The students had their own ipad and I used Seesaw to post activities and they used their ipad to take photographs and make the collages. I have included a link to a home made video demonstration (amatuer, but it did the job!) of how to photograph an object and make a joiner collage in grid and freestyle using Pic Collage. Each lesson has the Learning Intentions and Success Criteria. This is the lesson sequence that I did:

  • Activity 1: Digital Artist Poster (research and present)
  • Activity 2: Analyse a Hockney Joiner
  • Activity 3: Hockney style self-portrait joiner (freestyle)
  • Activity 4: Artwork Comparison (Venn Diagram)
  • Activity 5: Photo- collages (grid and freestyle) of an object (Pic Collage)
  • Activity 6: Photo- collage of an outdoor scene (freestyle-overlapped ‘joiner’) Pic Collage
  • Activity 7: Reflection of learning & Kahoot Challenge (link given)
Lesson activities suitable for students using ipads with Pic Collage app.