The Documentary Approach
with jessica thomason, heather whitten, lauren mitchell and felicia chang
December 11, 2017
January 8, 2018
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Full Participation sold out.
They say truth is stranger than fiction. We believe it’s more beautiful too. Take a step back from the perfectly orchestrated set-ups and aesthetically driven photography you’re used to and learn to appreciate and document the world just as it is.
This unique, intense four instructor-led workshop will cover the principles and compositional techniques of capturing your every day with a photojournalistic approach. Learn how to utilize available light no matter the time of day or where you are. With challenges and exercises that dive deep into fears and address mental blocks head-on, you’ll come out with a greater understanding of what truly motivates you to capture your life in a photograph.
daily shooting encouraged
4 hours of work per week
this course has prerequisites
All students will need a wide angle, prime lens (35mm or wider is highly recommended) on any camera body that can be controlled manually. Students should be familiar with basic principles of composition and have a well developed understanding of natural light. Students should be comfortable shooting in manual.
The Documentary Approach is taught by a team of four photographers: Jessica Thomason, Heather Whitten, Lauren Mitchell, Felicia Chang. You can view their portfolios here: jessicathomason.com, heatherwhitten.com, laurenmitchellphotography.com, feliciachangphotography.com.
Each week will include:
Comprehensive videos as requested by full participation students (shooting, culling, editing, Q&A etc)
Live instructor image critique (recorded and available to stream or download)
Study Along students will have access to all materials and will be able to view all content and conversation in the main workshop forum and receive access to their own private subforum for peer study groups and image shares. Study along students will not be able to ask the instructor questions or request instructor feedback on their assignments.
Welcome & Preassignment
Reading: DOCUMENTARY DEFINED: What is documentary photography? (discussion of the spectrum of portrait/lifestyle/documentary), Ethics and rules of documentary photography, History of documentary photography, Discussion of approach vs aesthetic, Intro to the trifecta of light/composition/moment, Making the most of challenging light
Assignment: Submit two images for CC – 1) an image taken in light that was challenging for you and 2) an image where light creates a strong narrative
Reading: COMPOSITION TECHNIQUES FOR DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY: Framing, layering, leading lines, visual weight, micro-composing – using these compositional techniques to tell a story in documentary photography, discussing the inherent objective of telling a story through compositional elements
Assignment: Shoot to show compositional elements. Submit for CC.
Reading: HOW TO NOT GIVE A F&*k (aka Finding the best moments): “rules” and how to break them, the emotional ‘whys’, intuition, voice, identifying and confronting fear and vulnerability
Assignment: Shoot one image of something that scares you. Think about shooting for you as the audience and no one else.
Reading: SINGLE STORIES, SHORT ESSAYS & THE PERSONAL DITL: creating a series of images that work together, single image narrative vs a photo essay, shooting your ‘Day in the Life’, discussion on how to include yourself in your DITL, culling/post-processing/presenting your DITL across platforms
Assignment: Submit a 5-10 image short essay or a culled personal DITL (80 images or less) for CC.
The CMU workshop is a 100% online classroom experience. Once you sign up, you have access to a course forum that is open 24 hours a day so that you can learn and join discussions on your own schedule.
Each week students receive a set of course materials– these materials generally include a PDF and/or videos. Throughout the week, instructors and TAs are present in the forum every day to answer questions and offer encouragement. Students receive an assignment each week that pertains to the topics covered in the course materials and class discussion throughout the week.
Full Participation students engage in an interactive online classroom experience that includes instructor-led group discussions and detailed, personalized guidance for the duration of the workshop. Full participation students post their assignments in the forum and receive instructor and TA critiques each week. They also have lifetime access to a Workshop Alumni forum for continued peer discussion after the course concludes.
Study Along students have access to all materials and are able to view all content and conversation in the main workshop forum. They also receive access to their own private Study Along subforum for peer study groups and image shares. Study along students will not be able to ask the instructor questions or request instructor feedback on their assignments, but they can follow along with instructor critiques of the Full Participation assignments.
Whether you are a Full Participation student or a Study Along student, the course materials are yours to keep.