wrt fall 2012 photo essay assignment

Assignment Overview

View from the Window at Le Gras by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
Color digital print reproduction of Joseph Nicéphore Niépce’s
View from the Window at Le Gras (c1826)
June 2002

“The DAGUERREOTYPE is not merely an instrument which serves to draw Nature; on the contrary it is a chemical and physical process which gives her the power to reproduce herself.”
Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre (c1839)

Daguerreotype_Daguerre_Atelier_1837
L’Atelier de l’artiste (1837)
Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre

“Our chief object at present is to investigate the connexion of photography with art—to decide how far the sun may be considered an artist, and to what brand of imitation his powers are best adapted.”
Lady Elizabeth Eastlake (1857)

Alfred Stieglitz, The Hand of Man
The Hand of Man (1902)
Alfred Stieglitz

“Now in all of this it should be well understood, that the machine is a passive and innocent party, The control of its mechanism and materials, the fineness and sensitivity of its accomplishment are those of man.”
Paul Strand (1922)

Phan Thị Kim Phúc running down a road near Trảng Bàng, Vietnam,
Phan Thị Kim Phúc running down a road near Trảng Bàng, Vietnam
Nick Ut (1968)

“The intelligibility of a photograph is no simple thing; photographs are texts inscribed in terms of what we may call ‘photographic discourse,’ but this discourse, like any other, engages discourses beyond itself, the ‘photographic text,’ like any other is the site of a complex ‘intertextuality,’ an overlapping series of previous texts ‘taken for granted’ at a particular cultural and historical juncture.”
Victor Burgin (1977)

“What I am saying is: memories evoked by a photo do not simply spring out of the image itself, but are generated in an intertext of discourses that shift between past and present, spectatator and image, and between all these and cultural contexts, historical moments.”
Annette Kuhn (1991)

“The digital image tears apart the net of semiotic codes, modes of display, and patterns of spectatorship in modern visual culture—and, at the same time, weaves this net even stronger. The digital image annihilates photography while solidifying, glorifying and immortalizing the photographic. In short, this logic is that of photography after photography.”
Lev Manovich (1995)

Rhien II by Andreas Gursky
Rhien II (1999)
Andreas Gursky

Assignment Details

For this assignment, I’d like you to create a photo essay consisting of 12 – 15 photographs on a particular theme or subject. The photographs can be of any style (landscape, portrait, self-portrait, urban decay, and so on) as long as there is a unifying theme or subject. The medium with which you use to record the photos should relate in some way to the subject matter. Do not simply use a digital camera because you have one or a cell phone because it is convenient. Rather, think about how the media used to record the image complements the subject itself. Amazing, award-winning photographs can be made using disposable cameras, for example. Fun film cameras, like 35mm Holgas and instant film cameras, can be purchased at Urban Outfitters. In class we’ll talk about how applying Vaseline to a lens or wrapping a camera in cellophane can transform an image.

Along with the photos I would like you to compose:

  • a 250-350-word introduction to the images in the vein of those composed by Joseph Rodriguez for Where Children Sleep and Yves Marchand and Romain Mefre in The Ruins of Detroit
  • a 750-1000-word analysis of the photos where you discuss your reasons (rhetorical and aesthetic) for choosing the images and the medium/technology chosen to record the images (film, digital camera, cell phone camera, specific app, and so on)
    • of those 1000 words, 250 – 350 should be dedicated to discussing 1 image wherein you compose a more in-depth discussion in terms of the theories on photography that we have read and the so-called “rules of composition” that are discussed via the links in Additional Materials section below. If you have done so, you may choose to discuss how your image specifically subverts one or more Rules of Composition.

Your images do not have to have titles or captions, though you are welcome to use either or both. If you do, be sure to address them in your analysis (especially in terms of Barthes discussions on anchorage). If your subject requires some research, be sure to incorporate (however briefly) what you find in the Introduction or analysis.

The final project will be compiled using Issuu.com and submitted via the course blog.

Additional Materials

Here are some texts about the rule of composition (one must learn them first in order to break them, as some of our readings suggest photographers should do):

Sample Final Photo Essays

On my Way to Cape May: Phantom Portraits of my Hometown by Christen Otter

Delving in to Delsea: Distorted and Desperate by Diana Riker

Presence in Absence: A Visual Exploration of Camden, NJ by Samantha Brown

makeup and confidence by meghan o’donnell

Assessing the Work

The project will be assessed by the overall statement your series of photos is making about a certain topic or theme, by the strength of the connection between the medium chosen to record the images and the images themselves, and by how well you apply the photography and semiotic theories we have read in class to the photos you have made and selected. I will also be considering how well you have applied or purposely subverted the Rules of Composition to the 1 photograph you choose analyze in more depth. In terms of the course strands, I will be looking specifically at Multimodality, Rhetoric, Technology (for the media used to record the images), and Critical Thinking, Writing, and Reading.

Due Dates

12/6: In-class photo assessment
Upload to the course Flickr account between 24 and 36 images that you think represent the body of work you would like to include in your essay. Put your images in a Set named by your first name. (Username and password the same as the YouTube account.) To upload images:

  1. Go to the Flickr page. Click “sign in” in the top right. A pop-up window will appear. Click on the Google icon and log in. (Username is wolffwrtf12@gmail.com and password the same as the YouTube account.)
  2. Click on the Home link and then click on “Upload Photos & Videos” and on the next screen follow instructions to drag and drop of select images to upload. You can select multiple images, though I wouldn’t do more than 5 at a time if your images are really big.
  3. On the next screen, add a meaningful title, a brief description about the image (including 140 characters max about why you think it should be included in final project), some tags, and create a set for yourself. Ignore groups and settings.
  4. Sets organize images within a Flickr account. They differ from Groups in that Groups extend to the whole of Flickr. To add photos to or create a new set, click on Sets. If you are creating a new set, click on Create New Set. Name your set and give it a brief description.
  5. When finished, click the blue Upload button in the upper right of the screen.

12/11 12/13: Rough Draft of Photo Essay due
Upload to Dropbox (invite to be sent) in Word format. Your rough draft should include the following:

  • a 250-350-word introduction to the images in the vein of those composed by Joseph Rodriguez for Where Children Sleep and Yves Marchand and Romain Mefre in The Ruins of Detroit
  • half of our total your 12 – 15 images
  • 250 – 350 word discussion analyzing 1 image in terms of the theories on photography that we have read and the so-called “rules of composition.” If you have done so, you may choose to discuss how your image specifically subverts one or more Rules of Composition.

Put everything in 1 Word document in the order listed above. Create a Title page and use bold-printed headings before the Introduction and Image Analysis. I recommend making the Word document landscape instead of vertical. To add images to Word, go to Insert –> Picture –> From File. Save the file as: wrtf12-yourlastname-pe-rd.doc or .docx.

12/20: Final Photo Essay Due by 11:00pm
Final photo essay assignment due on the course blog and in Issuu. Following the below instructions when composing and submitting your final draft:

Like your rough draft, your final should be in a Word document, and should include the following in the order listed below:

  1. a title page that includes your name, title of your project, and one of your photos
  2. a 250-350-word Introduction to the images in the vein of those composed by Joseph Rodriguez for Where Children Sleep and Yves Marchand and Romain Mefre in The Ruins of Detroit
  3. your 12 – 15 images, each on a single page, and preferably centered on that page
  4. a 750-1000-word analysis of the photos where you discuss your reasons (rhetorical and aesthetic) for choosing the images and the medium/technology chosen to record the images (film, digital camera, cell phone camera, specific app, and so on)
  5. 250 – 350 word discussion analyzing 1 image in terms of the theories on photography that we have read and the so-called “rules of composition.” If you have done so, you may choose to discuss how your image specifically subverts one or more Rules of Composition
  6. A Works Cited list using MLA or APA format

Use headings before the Introduction, the Photo Analysis, the Composition Analysis, and Works Cited.

Save the file as a Word or PDF document and then upload the file to Issuu.com. Add the title of your project, a meaningful description, and a few keywords. Select Article or Essay to the Type. For Category, select Creative, for the Language English, and Target Area, The World. Under Publishing Options, select Publish. Under Sharing, select Yes for Comments; the other 2 are up to you. Click Upload.

After the upload, you will be brought to your Library. Check to see that all is okay by opening the photo essay.

Compose a blog post that contains your Introduction and a link to your photo essay on Issuu (you cannot embed the Issuu on wordpress.com, so link to it instead). Choose an image to be the feature image and create a title that is your project’s title.

 

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