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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Fall 2008

T C 325 • Topics in the Arts and Sciences: Photographic Narratives: Stories In Images

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43818 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
CRD 007B

Course Description

In a society saturated with photographic images, we have developed a visual literacy that enables us to interpret the implicit messages in the photos we encounter every day in advertisements, journalism and art. With no text whatsoever, a photograph can communicate a sophisticated and nuanced story containing essential components of narrative: character, setting, mood and plot. Thusly billboards can tantalize us with fantasies, and news photos can draw us into compelling dramas. This class will have both analytical and creative components. Students will discuss the work of professional photographers, and also experiment with various photographic techniques to create their own narrative images. We will discuss composition, lighting, camera perspective, focal length, depth-of-field, shutter speed, exposure and other technical and aesthetic aspects of photography. We will then explore the consequences each of these aspects can have on the "story" in the image. Work by Eddie Adams, Diane Arbus, Matthew Brady, Manual Alvarez Bravo, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Gregory Crewdson, Philip Lorca diCorcia, Teenie Harris, Dorothea Lange, Annie Liebovitz, Helmut Newton, Sebastião Salgado, Jan Saudek, Cindy Sherman, W. Eugene Smith, and Alfred Stieglitz will guide our discussions. After studying the techniques of these renowned professional photographers, students will create their own narrative images and share them with the class for comments and criticism.

Required equipment: Any digital camera with manual exposure control will be appropriate for this class. A D-SLR is preferable, but some point-and-shoot cameras also have this functionality. Recent point-and-shoot models that have the necessary features include the Nikon Coolpix PS100, the Canon Powershot G9, the Olympus SP-570 UZ and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50. Students on tight budgets can find acceptable used digital cameras for as little as $75 - please see instructor fore advice before making a used camera purchase. Films (screened in class): War Photographer (dir. Christian Frei); Five Obstructions (dir. Jorgen Leth); Wisconsin Death Trip (dir. James Marsh)


Texts/Readings: Course Packet (available at Paradigm on 24th street) On Photography, Susan Sontag The Photography Book (Phaidon) Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud About the Professor: Matt Valentine's fiction has been published in several literary magazines, and he has received writing awards and fellowships from New York University, the Michener Center for Writers, Playboy magazine, the Vermont Studio Center and the Greensboro Review. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for short fiction. Also a professional photographer, Valentine's work has been widely published, and exhibited in group shows at the Gulf and Western Gallery (New York), the Silver Eye Center for Photography (Pittsburgh), and the Harry Ransom Center (Austin). His photographs of the September 11th Tragedy were included in the book Here is New York (Scalo, 2002) and in group shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the International Center for Photography, where the exhibition was recognized with the ICP's prestigious Infinity Award. Currently, he is completing a series of photographic portraits of major contemporary poets.


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