Visual Rhetoric: Becoming a Better Storyteller
with courtney larson
august 7, 2017
september 4, 2017
register now >
Full Participation sold out.
Remember the best story you have ever heard heard? Maybe it was a bedtime tale your father created during your childhood, a popular TED talk that inspires you, or the way your husband tells the story of when you two first met. What makes that story so powerful? Storytelling is both a natural talent and a learned craft. Much like an aspiring authors do, we are going to learn how to construct a powerful visual narrative. We will examine the tools needed to express ideas and emotion. By analyzing literature and art, we will construct a new language for dynamic storytelling and the relationship between our mind’s eye and the camera. This class will develop the student’s ability to integrate various storytelling approaches, create single frame stories and photo essays, compose an effective communication strategy, and offer new tools for emphasizing the moments.
4+ hours required per week (research and reflection)
this course has prerequisites
Students should be comfortable shooting in Manual Mode and have an understanding of the exposure triangle.
Courtney Larson: Storyteller, Documentarian, Boss-lady, Creme Brulee lover, Googling Expert, Golden Girl
Courtney has always been telling stories, ever since she can remember. Whether it be crayola doodles, painting on a canvas, traveling the country with fellow actors, running her own jewelry business, or living abroad, she has been sharing the narratives of her life and of those around her. As a devoted artist and on the adventure of life that is motherhood, photography has become her medium of choice…and the rest is history.
Courtney lives in Phoenix, AZ with her beautiful ginger husband and their three children (nope, no gingers yet) She is a documentary photographer and her work has been described as honest, immersive, with a side of daring.View Courtney’s work at inlovenessphotography.com.
• 4 Weekly PDFs
• 3 pre-recorded videos, 4 live chats (recorded for viewing later, too)
• Personal Critiques of Assignments
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: During the first week we will discuss ways to approach storytelling within a single image. You will learn how to identify the narrative in your current work and skills to strengthen future work much like a writer would when penning a novel. This week will look at the Rhetorical Triangle as we discuss it’s presence in art, advertising, and photography.
*Complementing video discussing “anchors”.
Exercises: Three discerning exercises where you are to use your grasp of rhetorical concepts to share your thoughts or your analysis of image(s).
Assignment: Share your favorite storytelling image taken previous to this class and share the rhetorical identifiers present.
Reading: In Week Two we will discuss the basics of building strong content in our images. This week continues the literary approach as we dissect the characters, setting, and plot. The second part of the PDF will look at strengthening our emotional responses by developing or deepening the characters.
*Complimenting video: Understanding the Setting.
Exercises: One discerning exercise where you are to use your grasp of rhetorical concepts and analyze eight images.
Assignment: Approach a scene with no preconceived story and, only using 5 frames, document the strongest story the scene will give you.
Reading: Learn about The Decisive Moment, three practical tips for documenting moments, and the elements in multi-image stories.
*Complimenting video: live chat where you see me cull a Day in the Life session as I talk about the WHY behind my choices
Exercises: Three discerning exercises where you are to use your grasp of rhetorical concepts and analyze images or photo essays.
Two shooting exercises based on the PDF material.
Assignment: Create a multi-image story in 5-12 images using the six various frameworks for a compelling story.
Reading: This week will examine the psychological power of imagery and will review how we can use nonverbal cues to communicate our message. The PDF will discuss nonverbal in some of the world’s most powerful images and in everyday work of other photographers. We go over body language and composition as two key ways we can communicate with our audience.
Exercises: Two shooting exercises based on the PDF material.
One discerning exercise where you are to use your grasp of rhetorical concepts to analyze images.
Assignment: You are to shoot three images that express your personal “anchors” of an attitude, belief and value (from week one’s PDF). When sharing your images you will discuss all the identifiers of the rhetorical triangle and how you used the entirety of the course to approach and execute the assignment.
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 critiques each week.
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.