2022 – Spring


Course Number: JOUR-GA 1182.009

Day & Time: Thu | 9:00 AM – 12:40 PM

Location: 20 Cooper Square, Room 653

Instructor: Lori Grinker

This course is about the development of knowledge through photography. As the lines begin to blur between documentary photography, photojournalism, vernacular photographs and fine art, how can a personal photographic project fit in with new storytelling possibilities such as multimedia platforms, smart camera documentation, audio slideshows, tablet e-readers, while addressing social issues in depth? Some documentary photographers approach a subject with a clear agenda for prescriptive change, some come with a direction, technique, or a subject area, some come seeking answers, often in the form of stories or essays, and others seek to portray a psychological reality or state of mind. In many cases, a new understanding of the world, or at least one aspect of the world, is achieved.

Besides imparting an understanding of this process, this course poses the question: How will you document the social, political, economic, and cultural issues of today and cultivate a narrative with still images?

How will you document a neighborhood of your city; how will you interpret what you see when you look through your viewfinder? What knowledge emerges when you discuss and edit your work? And most basically, how do you begin?

Projects and Goals

Focusing on the social issues and cultural life of New York City, students will work individually or collaboratively on a photographic project while studying traditional and contemporary documentary photography, and fieldwork practices. Class sessions will examine the issues: defining a theme, personal vision, editing, technical knowhow, and critique. Students will help critique each other’s work; discussions will focus on technique, light, composition; what makes a good photograph.

The final result will be an exhibition in the College halls where the course is held. Students will acquire the capacity to develop knowledge through seeing.