J481: Documentary Photojournalism

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Welcome to Documentary Photojournalism. In this course we will seek to strengthen your foundation of technical and journalistic skills, and help guide you into leveraging the power of photojournalism to affect your community. It is a tremendous privilege to be able to share people’s lives and tell their stories to thousands of readers. With this privilege comes a responsibility for fairness, accuracy, commitment and hard work. In photojournalism, one can choose to serve self, or to serve mankind by illuminating the human condition. My emphasis will always be on the latter.
Many photographs simply state fact as the photographer recorded it. Within this class we will begin to create photographs that tell stories, photographs that educate, and reach into the social conscience. Not every documentary picture story uncovers social problems, however. Many documentary stories celebrate things that are right within a society or reveal unknown cultural and societal gems.
Effective documentary photography is impossible without a commitment on the part of the photographer to become involved and spend enough time to get beyond the surface. Genuine life moments are KEY elements of documentary storytelling. The “quick-hit� approach, projecting an incomplete and stereotypical understanding of a given subject, is sadly prevalent in today’s media. The antidote is time and an unselfish commitment to truth.

Strategies for Teaching and Learning
•We will shoot three picture pages and one major documentary project. In addition, each student will research a documentary photographer and produce a paper and a class presentation.

•You will work closely with an editor on each of your projects; as well as serve in the role of a picture editor to your classmates.

•The class will have four modules:
Picture editing and picture pages
Project research and design
Content gathering
Editing and production

•There will be guest speakers and editors.

Course Requirements

•You will need a 35mm single lens reflex camera with manual controls and interchangeable lenses, and a strobe. If you don’t have the necessary equipment, the school has some equipment available to rent for $50 for the semester. You are responsible for any lost, damaged, or stolen equipment.
•You will need to buy one text and a short list of supplies. You will also subscribe to the Raleigh News & Observer.
•Some images may be exhibited in a year-end show.

•You will have three picture page shootouts, in which you will shoot a small story (3-5 pictures) in one day, then lay the images out as a picture page.
•The main project will be an in-depth documentary story in photos and audio. We will be doing a class web site on the subject Tobacco to Tech-the evolution of North Carolina’s Piedmont.� Your project must illustrate an aspect of this topic. We will work on this project for the entire semester.
•You will research a documentary photographer and complete a slide show and a 10-15 minute class presentation.
•Deadlines are a critical component of all journalistic disciplines. All assignments and exercises are due at the beginning of class. Deadlines will be graded. No content will result in a zero. Therefore, it is important to have your work finished and in the class folder at the start of class even if you are not there.
•Quizzes will be on readings, class lectures, and current events. You are responsible for any information presented in class, including your classmates’ presentations, whether it is in the reading or not. Information presented by guest speakers could also appear on quizzes.

•You are allowed three excused absences for personal reasons. For an excused absence, you must notify me in advance. Absences in excess of three will be docked 25 points. Tardiness may result in an unexcused absence if you come in after I have taken attendance.
•Excellent attendance, effort and punctuality will be recorded, and will count for 25 points, or roughly 5% of your grade. This is enough to swing you up or down.
•Because all assignments are done on a deadline, a grade of incomplete will be assigned in only the most extenuating circumstance and at my discretion.
•It is expected that all students will operate within the requirements of the honor system. All work must be your own, must be done specifically for this class, and should be done with the high level of honesty and integrity that this University demands.

Required Texts:
“Witness in our timeâ€? – Ken Light, fourth edition
Subscribe: Raleigh News & Observer
Suggested Reading:
“Truth needs no ally, Inside Photojournalism� Howard Chapnick
“Photojournalism: The Professional’s Approach� Ken Kobre

Supply List:
• Portable Hard drive (suggested)
• Lexar 512k or 1G memory card (suggested)
• Card reader
• Sharpie marker
Exercises and Assignments

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