21W.749 / CMS.935 Documentary Photography and Photojournalism: Still Images of a World in Motion

As taught in: Spring 2009

Photograph by Jacob Riis. Bandit's Roost, 1888, from How the Other Half Lives.

Bandit's Roost, 1888. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.


Undergraduate / Graduate


Prof. B. D. Colen

Course Features

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the great tradition of documentary photography. Students learn to see the world around them in a new way and produce a documentary project. The course requires reading and writing about photography, as well as doing it on a regular basis. The class emphasis is on thinking about why people photograph, what photographs do and do not mean to us, and on doing documentary work, on telling stories with photographs. This is not a technical class, and it should not be considered an "introduction to photography." I work on the assumption that any student signing up for the class has at least a minimal sense of the difference between f stops and T stops, and can find his or her way around a camera. While there will be some technical discussion in class, it will be limited.