Three main assignmentapproaches:✤ The Photoessay: document your topic with your own photographs. Then, talk about the problems and challenges of using images to get to the “truth” of your topic.✤ Image and Culture: advertising, celebrity, views of war, technology, fantasy, religion, family, race, gender, childhood. All are informed through images that we receive from culture. Talk about how this happens, using some images that seem to inﬂuence us.✤ Why We Look: Start with an “iconic” or famous image and learn about it-- not only the photo, but the situation the photo represents. Then write about what you ﬁnd. What “job” has the image performed, and why is it iconic?
The Photoessay:✤ Don’t choose it if you don’t want to do some work “in the ﬁeld” taking your own images.✤ Should be a topic of local signiﬁcance—something you can easily track down and photograph.✤ Examples: Recent news issues (such as the “Occupy Seattle” protests), visible social problems or issues (homelessness in Seattle, the “Bikini Barista” explosion, the lives of military families, etc.✤ What’s your argument? Your photographs will have all of the problems and complications that Berger, Sontag, and Barthes discussed. How do they represent the challenges of “quoting” reality?
Images and Culture:✤ Choose topics dear to you: gender, body awareness, tattoos, youth culture, race and nationality, sexuality, childhood and parenting, etc. Consider the intersections of these: gender and body. Parenting and tattoos. Race and sexuality.✤ Move from vague to speciﬁc as quickly as possible. Try to track down images—from advertisements, ﬁlms, celebrity culture, television, et cetera—that have inﬂuenced our culture to hold certain beliefs about your topic.✤ Examples: The Ralph Lauren photoshopping controversy, coverage of the “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign, portrayals of the “Arab Spring” freedom ﬁghters on American television
Why We Look:✤ Brainstorm a list of famous “iconic images”✤ Choose one (or two related ones) that you’d like to learn more about✤ Research its history: what does it show? Who took it? How has it been used?✤ Compare its history to the ideas presented by Berger, Sontag, and Barthes✤ Believe it or not, this is probably one of the easiest papers to write.
Remember:✤ The more speciﬁc, the better.✤ Make sure it relates to images and visuals.✤ Choose something you don’t know much about, but would like to learn more of. It’s OK if you know little to nothing about your topic.✤ You don’t need an argument yet.✤ The more speciﬁc, the better. Really.