Documentary Practice & Personal Project Development
Instructors: Brian Frank and Sarah Blesener
6:30 – 9:00 pm Eastern via Zoom
Eight Wednesdays beginning February 10, 2021
Course fee: $680 / $150 deposit required to confirm registration
Limited to 14 students
Photo by Sarah Blesener from “Beckon Us from Home”.
This online course will explore many of the intricacies involved with creating visual documentary narratives and navigating the professional photojournalism landscape. The course will delve not only into personal project development but also documentary assignment work, daily news assignment work, pitching stories to editors, writing for grants and fellowships, building and maintaining professional relationships, ethics, representation, and avoiding visual stereotypes.
This course is labeled intermediate, as students are expected to have an intermediate level of experience with photography, and encouraged to have a concept for a long-form documentary project. The concept may be in the beginning stages with a well-formed idea or the photographer may already have begun photographing.
The objective is for students to begin this course with the aim of developing a long-form project. The students will be required to share examples of work as well as share a written project proposal for group discussion and constructive critique. Students will prepare and practice live pitching their projects. There will be a variety of mixed media “readings” that will attempt to expand students’ understanding of the historic importance of visual narratives and inspire them to challenge themselves and grow their practices.
The course will begin with discussions on general practices in documentary. We will explore use of light to create mood and enhance stories, appropriate equipment for different styles of personal projects, and navigating workflow to meet deadlines. Practical steps to building professional networks that support economic, communal, and mental well-being will be a priority as well as how to safely navigate challenging environments. Students will present examples of their documentary work and personal projects to the class with intimate feedback, critique and guidance from the students and instructors. Students will also be assigned photography and research assignments throughout the course. The realities of the rapidly changing media environment and how to diversify your skillset to maintain a sustainable business in photojournalism will be explored. The goal of the workshop is, upon completion, all students will have a working edit of their project or portfolio, a working written project proposal, a prepared pitch presentation, and tools to further their documentary practice and personal projects.
A native of San Francisco, Brian Frank has worked on social documentary projects across the Americas focusing on cultural identity, social inequality, violence, workers rights and the environment.
In 2017, Frank was awarded a fellowship by the Catchlight foundation to continue his work documenting mass incarceration's effects on minority communities. This two-year project, Downstream: Death of the Colorado. is held in the permanent collection of the United States Library of Congress and was recognized by POYi with the Global Vision Award. His project on the drug war and culture of violence in Mexico, La Guerra Mexicana, was awarded the Domestic News Picture Story of the year by the NPPA. Frank’s work has been recognized with numerous other awards from both national and international press organizations.
After completing the Journalism program at San Francisco State University, Fran worked primarily for The Wall Street Journal from 2008-2014 and currently focuses on long-term documentary magazine features in California, the American Southwest, and Mexico.
Frank’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, California Sunday Magazine, Harpers, The Atlantic, GQ, Esquire, Fortune, Mother Jones, Newsweek, TIME, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, Wired, Politico, Virginia Quarterly Review, PDN, American Photo, The Fader, The New York Times, U.S.News & World Report, The San Francisco Chronicle and other publications. www.brianfrankphoto.com
Sarah Blesener is a documentary photographer based in New York City. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, she studied Linguistics and Youth Development. While in university, she worked as a photographer for the organization Healing Haiti based in Port au Prince, Haiti, covering events surrounding the 2010 earthquake. Upon graduation, she studied at Bookvar Russian Academy in Minneapolis, concentrating on the Russian language. She is a graduate of the Visual Journalism and Documentary Practice program at the International Center of Photography in New York. Her latest work revolves around ideologies amongst youth in Russia, Eastern Europe, and the United States. She was the recipient of the Alexia Foundation grant for her 2017 work in the United States, and was also a 2017 fellow with Catchlight, working with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. In 2018, she was a recipient of the Eugene Smith Fellowship. In 2019, her personal project, Beckon Us From Home, received a first place prize in the Long-Term Project category of World Press Photo. www.sarah-blesener.com
$150 Deposit to confirm registration
$530 Balance due one week prior to first class
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