Decoding-the-Message: Michelle Bogre, Fall 2023

Decoding the Message
Learning to Read Photographs

Instructor: Michelle Bogre
7:30–9:00 pm Eastern via Zoom
Eight Wednesdays beginning October 4
Course type: Lecture and discussion

Course fee: $475
Scholarships: One scholarship position available. To apply.


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Option to pay 25% deposit now with balance due one week before course starts.

Photo by Dorothea Lange
Plantation overseer. Mississippi Delta, near Clarksdale, Mississippi. Photo by Dorothea Lange, 1936.

Class Description

In 1936,  Lászlo Moholy Nagy wrote: "The illiterate of the future will be the person ignorant of the use of the camera as well as the pen." He was right, but being literate today entails more than camera skills; it requires knowing how to decode photographs. 

Photography has become the pulse of our culture and the most universal and versatile language of the 21st century. It also may be the most complex and varied visual discipline ever and because of that, it is the discipline most in need of explanation. Photography is a paradox. Photographs are always multifaceted in depth and breadth: they are object and idea; reality and representation; truth and fiction; objective and subjective; self-initiated and indelibly socially connected; fixed and floating; important and frivolous.

Through lectures, curated readings about key photographic theory, and photographs, this discussion-based class will teach you how to decode the internal narrative of a photograph, and how it functions in culture to expand your understanding of images beyond the superficial. 

Michelle Bogre

Michelle BogreMichelle Bogre, the Interim Managing Editor of Reading the Pictures, currently holds the title of Professor Emerita title from Parsons after a 25-year career teaching almost every type of photography class and a special class she developed on copyright law for artists and designers. She is also a copyright lawyer, documentary photographer and author of four books, Photography As Activism: Images for Social Change, Photography 4.0: A Teaching Guide for the 21st Century, Documentary Photography Reconsidered: History, Theory and Practice, and her most recent, The Routledge Companion to Copyright and Creativity in the 21st Century. She regularly lectures and writes  about copyright and photography. Her photographs and/or writings have been published in books, including the Time-Life Annual Photography series, The Family of Women, Beauty Bound, The Design Dictionary (Birkhauser Press, 2008) and photographer Trey Ratcliffe’s monograph, Light Falls like Bits. She is currently trying to finish a long term documentary project on family farms, published on Instagram as @thefarmstories. 

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