215 (Niman) PHOTO ARRAY # 2
Students will create a collection of 15 photos affixed to or printed on paper. Photos must be shot by student during this semester (a friend may shoot the photo if the student is appearing in it and has directed the shoot). Photos should be stapled or taped to 8.5"x11" paper. Do Not Use photo albums, plastic pages or poster board – I need a space to write comments. And lots of thick photo albums add up to a large awkward pile for me to carry. I will not accept arrays electronically. Do not use paper clips (arrays come apart or stick to other arrays).
Please be prepared to provide original negative or digital photo file (including other photos in sequence with digitally embedded metadata) if questions of plagiarism arise. Photos you did not shoot, including copies or full frame photos of pictures you did not shoot, constitute plagiarism and will result in automatic course failure and college disciplinary action.
Number and label each photo as per instructions (no number or label = no grade). Affix photos in order (I'm assuming they are in numerical order when I grade). Grades will reflect demonstration of comprehension of theories we've discussed in class and you've read about in the reading pack. Grades will be based upon how clearly and creatively photos demonstrate principles. Text may accompany photos for the purpose of claification, but the photos should clearly demonstrate the theory without depending on the text. The theory demonstrated by the photo should be clearly evident. Do not use examples from class or readings (e.g. crumbling house paired with affluent house). Your grade reflects originality in your choice of examples, with a more original example earning a top grade. Remember, however, that the more original and unique your example, the greater chance of your blowing it altogether and earning an unsatisfactory grade. As with all college-level work, be sure to balance risks against what you perceive as empirical certainty.
Concepts demonstrated by photos should NOT be dependent on symbolic signs or text (i.e. words or brands), cultural literacy (for example, a thrift shop alone only depicts poverty if you understand what the sign "Thrift shop" means -- similarly a brand only means something if you've been trained to recognize such meaning) or the social class positioning of the photographer (for example: A rich person might see a 1,500 square foot ranch style home as poverty while a homeless person might see it as a dream home -- your examples should be universally comprehensible and unambiguous).
Think creatively. For this assignment, you are a visual artist and a documentarian.
Assignment time allotment: 15 hours
Photo Pair (photos #1 & # 2) should show two separate but textually similar (similar subject material) scenes clearly juxtaposing poverty with wealth. Depictions should not require any great deal of cultural literacy (codes) and hence, should be clear to all viewers regardless of their cultural backgrounds. The difference between poverty and wealth should be stark and clear -- to anyone and everyone. Think Jacob Holdt. Be respectful that there is dignity in poverty, no matter how much cultural training you might have received telling you otherwise. Think of Dorothea Lang's classic photography.
Photo Pair (photos # 3 & # 4) repeat exercise of photos 1&2 contrasting poverty with wealth, but using a textually similar pair of subjects that are textually very different from #1 & #2.
Photo # 5 should be General News shot (you must use text to clarify this shot). Photos should not be ambiguous undecipherable shots. Events should be newsworthy as in general "NEWS." Staged events don't count. The photo should be able to stand alone (as if there was not text or caption) and inform its viewers clearly as to what the newsworthy event in the photo is.
Photo # 6 should be a different General News shot featuring a different newsworthy occurrence(you must use text to clarify this shot).
Photo # 7 should be Sports Feature shot. Again, the events depicted should be newsworthy -- at least on a local, community or campus level. These shots should clearly not be confused with Sports Action shots. Before turning your assignment in, ask yourself, is my photo really capturing something that is newsworthy (i.e. your little brother practicing basketball in the driveway is NOT newsworthy)? Use text to describe the newsworthy event in your photo.
Photos # 8 should be Sports Action shot. Again, the events depicted should be newsworthy -- at least on a local community or campus level. These shot should clearly not be confused with sports feature shots. Use text to describe why this particular split second of action is newsworthy.
Photo # 9 should be a Spot News shot. (Avoid interfering with first responders or law enforcement officials when taking this photo -- see warning below). Photo should not be an ambiguous undecipherable shot. Photo should be newsworthy (as in there is nothing newsworthy about a person getting a speeding ticket or being wheeled into an ambulance -- these are everyday occurrences). If you can't find any spot news, you can stage fake spot news for partial credit. If you photograph real spot news, you will earn extra credit -- keep your camera with you during the weeks leading up to this assignment. See Warning # 1 below.
Photo #10 should tell us something about your life. Photo should give us a good idea of who you are and what makes you unique as a complex individual (e.g. there's nothing unique about a student studying or watching a Bills Game). Photo should provide as much information as possible and not be trite or cliche (as in glass of water "half full"). Use a caption to explain this photo.Try to do this without personally appearing in the photo.
Photo #11 should sum up your home community -- should give us a comprehensive understanding of where you live (but not your house). Think "Community." Give us something more than a row of houses.
Photo # 12 should document the act of paid “work” (as in employment). Work, in this case, is a verb. It should be clear to viewers that the subject of the photo is "at work," and "working."
Photo # 13 should use another subject and location to document volunteer “work” (as in volunteer labor).
Photo # 14 should document "comfort." What is your idea of comfort? We should feel comfortable just looking at this photo. Be creative. Don't just show a picture of your bed or couch. This photo should be inviting.
Photo #15 Should be a weather feature shot. It should not just be a photo, say, of an intersection on a rainy day, but should be a photo where the weather clearly dominates the scene. This can be emphasized, for example, by clear human reactions to weather. Weather should be the dominant subject in this shot. Example
Grading: You start with 9 points for numbering and lableing your photos and stapling your pages together (without dangerous sharp points). Each photo or photo pair is worth up to 7 points. There are 2 photo pairs and 11 individual photos for a total of 91 points, plus your free 9 points = 100.
Your Legal Rights and Responsibilities as a Photographer - Download Guide Here - Carry it with your camera.
Correcting Misinformation Regarding Your Rights as a Photographer - From USA Today.
Please Remember to Think About Ethical Issues: Just because you have the right to make a photo doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.
1) During the Fall 2005 semester, a Buffalo police officer allegedly manhandled, handcuffed and eventually took/seized/stole a COM 215 student's camera (10/05) after the student shot a spot news photo of officers using what she described as excessive force while arresting people on Chippewa Street. The student reports that she was not near the officers nor was she interfering with them. Students should exercise caution in the vicinity of police officers, particularly if you think their actions may be abusive or illegal. You do not have to win a Pulitzer prize for your photo in order to fulfill the spot news photo requirement.
2) In at least one documented instance, Wal Mart<tm> photo processing workers have violated customer privacy and reviewed student photos, inappropriately calling in law enforcement officers when the context of the photos confused them ( Read more here). At this time I am unaware of any invasion of privacy instances in the Buffalo area.
©2011 Michael I. Niman
usage rights released to BSC faculty