Digital Photo Documentary Course Objectives FALL 2015
VSAR 314 Tuesday 5:00-8:45 pm, ARTS 239
Office Hours: Tues 2:30-5:00 Arts 331
Deborah Small Blog
760-750-4151 (please use email)
Jerry Slough, Teaching Assistant, Blog
Chad Huggins , Technical Director, School of Arts
PH: (760) 750-8052
Required : You will create a personal blog, which ultimately is your electronic portfolio for this class, for your writing, your commentary about the artists and photographers we discuss, and your reflections on all of the in-class screenings. You also will upload and reflect upon your photos weekly. The class will use wordpress.com
Storage: You will need an external harddrive: You can check out your own hard-drive from arts 239 check-out area, but this is no longer a good option! Chances of the drive going down are large . . .
ALWAYS back-up your work. Systems crash when least expected. This is an important habit to develop when working with any digital media.
Equipment Check-out : Use your own digital cameras, or check out our terrific Canon cameras from ARTS 239, as well as our incredible lenses, tripods, pano tripods, lighting kits, etc. Still cameras can be checked out starting the second week of the semester. We will spend the second class working with the cameras to familiarize you with them, but you must also spend time with the manuals that should come with the camera, or read online. Albert Rascon, director of check-out, will go over check-out times and rules with us the first or second week.
Lab Access : Arts 239 is open so you can do your homework assignments. Hours are posted on the door. I will also send everyone’s name to public safety, and you can call using the phone outside the lab and they will come to let you in. Labs are open 24/7, except when a class is in session. Please never let anyone in if you don’t recognize them. All software is also available on computers in the library on the 2nd floor.
Class Description: Digital Photo Documentary investigates a broad range of artistic practices and contemporary artists who use digital media as a tool for social transformation. The course explores a broad range of perspectives to enrich our understanding of current social, cultural, environmental, and political concerns and their interpretation through digital media.
Artists may include contemporary documentary artists and photographers Carole Gallagher, Rick Smolan, John Hoagland, Susan Meiselas, Richard Misrach, An-My Lé, Robert Adams, David Maisel, and Alfredo Jaar, among others. We will screen fiction and non-fiction films about documentary photographers and their work, including Under Fire, loosely based on the life and death of war photographer (and San Diegan) John Hoagland; War Photographer, an examination of the work of James Nachtway; Chased by the Light which focuses on the art and nature photography of Jim Brandenburg and how his evocative images were used to set aside prairie land in perpetuity; and Manufactured Landscapes, a look at the large-scale photographs of quarries, recycling yard, factories and mines of artist Edward Burtynsky and the images he produced of the massive factories in China.
We will look at artistic practices that focus on the experimental forms of documentary, including multimedia artist Kim Stringfellow, whose hybrid documentary forms explore important environmental issues. We may screen Born Into Brothels, where documentary photographer Zana Briski gives cameras to the children of prostitutes and asks them to photograph their world, the red light district of Calcutta.
Students will experiment with different conceptual approaches to art making and develop aesthetic strategies for engaging audiences in particular social, political, and cultural concerns. You will explore ways to combine their text and images, and perhaps audio and video, in a provocative and compelling manner to tell your important stories.
Students will learn to use digital still cameras and editing tools to produce projects that have both a photographic and writing/textual/voice component. Projects may include gallery or alternative space exhibitions of photographs and writing as well as blogs, online exhibitions of the work, or the production on an online published book. The class will combine lectures, screenings, group discussions, research, presentations, and photography/writing projects.
Assessment: This course is conducted as a workshop: all students must participate actively and consistently. Much of the class will be devoted to the work of other artists and to the development and discussion of your projects. Part of your final evaluation will focus on your ability to respond thoughtfully to other students’ artwork and your ability to work collaboratively with each other. For this reason, it is essential that you attend class regularly. I will take attendance at the beginning and at the end of each class. Class attendance and participation is mandatory! Two unexcused absences will result in lowering your final grade. Classroom Participation in discussions and helpful collaboration with your peers will account for 15% of your final grade.
Students will be assessed through regular responses to the readings, screenings, lectures, midterm project, final project proposal and their final project culmination.
LEARNING OUTCOME A: Learning digital languages:
Cameras: In this class, students will learn to use DSLR cameras, mobile devices and/or throwaway cameras to create create images for print and for viewing online, a mid-term and final project, as well as an on-going blog.
Software: You will become sophisticated users of Adobe Lightroom CC 2015, photo imaging and organizing software, as well as Adobe Photoshop to edit and enhance your photographs, and you may learn the use of digital imaging tools including scanners and book publishing software at blurb.com. Learning will take place via classroom lectures, demonstrations, online tutorials at lynda.com, and discussions and critiques of the weekly projects that you will complete for the class.
Printing: You will learn to prepare your images for printing and use COSTCO, least expensive and they do a great job, or your printer of choice.
LEARNING OUTCOME B: Critically analyze the artwork of others and your own
Through classroom lectures, discussion, screenings, and web research, you will explore contemporary digital artists and photographers, and their traditional and experimental uses of digital media. By viewing and discussing a broad range of artistic practices, you will learn how art making is a means to discover and develop your ideas about the world and to extend the power, clarity, and range of your voice and vision.
Contemporary Photographers: You will visit the current photography exhibition at MOPA and write @250 words/one page about each of the two exhibitions. You will post your writing on your blog to help fulfill the CSUSM Writing Requirement. Your blog posts will fulfill the other part of the requirement
MOPA, Museum of Photographic Arts, in Balboa Park
LEARNING OUTCOME C: Using Digital Language and Tools/Creating Art Projects
You will create several small projects and one final project over the semester:
1. Blog: You will use your blog site for all thoughts, ideas, research, etc, on your project. This is the place for you to develop your ideas throughout the semester and to post your on-going projects and experiments. BLOG, aka an electronic portfolio, of your ideas, research, links drawings, photographs, etc. which will act a source for your creative process. You will write posts on all of the class presentations on your blog. I frequently will ask you to “freewrite” about the images and videos we are looking at in class, and then to share those thoughts with others after posting what you have written. In addition to the blog, you also will upload your photos on a photo-sharing site such as Flickr, and link your blog to Flickr, Facebook, and other social media of your choosing.
2. Documentary photo series posted to your blog inspired by the Annenberg Space for Photography documentary photographer of your choice
3. Triptych: tell a story in nine images using 3 triptychs (3 prints) 3 12 x 18 prints
4. Grid Sequence: Tell a story using a grid format: print: 16″ x 20″
5. Final Documentary Project: major work for the semester:
a. Book: 8 1/2 x 11″, minimum of 40 pages: this format is the least expensive
b. Print series with text
c. Multimedia project with music, voice, etc.
LEARNING OUTCOME D: Reflect on how your photographic practice can become a tool for social, cultural, or political change, increase visibility of under-served communities, and/or increase understanding of important contemporary issues.
Attendance : This course is conducted as a workshop: all students must participate actively and consistently. Much of the class will be devoted to the work of other artists and to the development and discussion of your projects. Part of your final evaluation will focus on your ability to respond thoughtfully to other students’ artwork and your ability to work collaboratively with each other. For this reason, it is essential that you attend class regularly. I will take attendance at the beginning and at the end of each class. Class attendance and participation is mandatory!!! Two unexcused absences will result in lowering your final grade. Classroom Participation in discussions and helpful collaboration with your peers will account for 15% of your final grade.
The course includes the Visual and Performing Arts Department’s Arts Events Attendance Requirement. You are required to ATTEND MOPA Photographic Museum. On your blog, you will write an approximately one-page (250 words) narrative reflection about Hendrik Kerstens’ work, and another one-page (250 words) narrative about the 7 Billion Others exhibition. All of your writing throughout the semester should be in the form of a 1st person narrative about your reaction and relationship to the work or the online sites we view
Throughout the semester, you will use your blog to reflect upon and write about the artists we view in class and your ideas for your art projects, and your art process, etc. I am interested in the quality of YOUR think and reflections, your ability to make comparisons among the various artists we review/
My hope is that at the end of the semester, you will have a blog you are proud of, and that can be used and/or expanded for a graduate school portfolio orjob application in the industry.
PROJECTS: I am interested in the quality of your images; that is, your ability to perform key image edits and enhancements that we will cover. You will also be evaluated on the content of your images, the coherence and originality of your ideas.
10% Grid Documentary Photo series inspired by Michael Wolf and the MOPA exhibition
10% Annenberg Artist inspired Photo Series
10% Triptych Series of 3 x 3 = 9 images to tell a story
30% Final Photo Book, Series, or Multimedia Documentary Project
20% Class discussion and participation
You need to go to MOPA by September _13 to see the two exhibitions