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Photo JournalismTaught by Stuart Freedman

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Reportage photography, (photojournalist & documentary), is one of the most challenging of the visual professions

  • Course suitable for keen amateurs & aspiring professionals

  • What makes impactful, compelling images

  • best practice on ethics and challenges

  • Equipment and techniques


Reportage photography, comprising both the photojournalist and documentary traditions, is one of the most challenging and demanding of the visual professions. It requires technical ability, social skills, persistence and an instinct for a story.

In this course, aimed at keen amateurs and aspiring professionals, I’ve attempted to condense a great deal into four lectures that seek to place reportage photography within an historical context whilst also examining contemporary practice and trends. The course is clear about a documentary tradition that is allied to good journalism in print and film and is based around the construction of the classical photo essay rooted in the Humanist Documentary tradition.

We look at what makes impactful, compelling images and at (sometimes unusual) compositional and framing devices in order to achieve them. The course covers equipment and technique but more importantly, the ballet of shooting reportage that concentrates on the ebb and flow of narrative, anticipation and the mechanics of actual story construction. The course is heavy on best practice, ethics and using difficult real-life scenarios that examine the challenges facing working photographers. It tries to challenge the visual cliché of some photojournalistic work as well as some of the clichés about photographers themselves. It is honest about the challenges of working in the field and the difficult decisions that that often brings. I show my work alongside great classics of the documentary tradition and at the end of each lecture set a marked task that will push your practice forward.


N.B. This course is an 8 week course with one lesson every two weeks.  This is to give students time to completed their assignments

Week 1

In the opening lecture we investigate the potential for photographs to tell a story examining the history of the medium from its roots in early portraiture to the battlefields of the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries.

-We define the strands of photography and journalism – the traditions of both photojournalism and documentary work within the genre of reportage.

- We look at the tradition of both the concerned European and American traditions of social reportage combined with camera technology that became the Humanist Documentary tradition in the Golden Age of magazines.

- We look at the confusing contemporary reportage world and try to relate a reinterpretation of documentary forms within the written and filmic tradition.

- We define a checklist for creating a readable and actionable photo-story.

Week 3 

In the second lecture we ask ‘what makes an engaging image’? We look at the world of classical art and how that has influenced our vision of the world and building a mental scrapbook of devices of composition.

-We examine the tools of the reportage photographer from the camera to tricks of the trade, concentrating on exposure, colour and format.

-We examine compositional and graphical devices concentrating on framing and visual clarity looking at colour, texture and movement.

-We look at the ballet of photographing – literally where you stand to achieve engaging and impactful work.

Week 5 

 In the third lecture, we discuss the core of reportage – the mechanics of photographing a story – the photo essay.

-We examine the ebb and flow of action in narrative: the role of anticipation and the Decisive Moment.

-We examine street photography, the law and ethics as they relate to working as a professional in the public sphere.

-We deconstruct classic photo-essays in order to define a structure that enables us to be able to construct our own essays that are readable and achievable. We relate that to scripting and editing but also to the role of serendipity and reactivity to events.

Week 7 

In the final lecture we talk about how we relate to the world and those that we record.

-We talk about the role of the guide and professional practice in the field.

-We talk about the ethics of representation and professional standards - what is required when entering other people’s lives and how we sit, listen and blend to achieve intimacy.

-We discuss the morality of photojournalism using difficult real-life scenarios and the challenges of visual cliché including the problem of the image of the photojournalist.

-We examine contemporary documentary traditions and the confusing ‘bleed’ from the art world and the challenges of evolving media platforms.

-We examine the constant tension in reportage between what is fashionable  and what is lasting - the responsibilities of what Cornell Capa described as the “creation of the visual history of our time”

The Curriculum

  • 1. Lesson 1

  • 2. Lesson 2

  • 3. Lesson 3

  • 4. Lesson 4

Meet your expert tutor

Stuart Freedman is a photographer and writer based between London and New Delhi. A member of Panos Pictures he has, over the last two decades, covered stories from Albania to Zambia. His work has ap...read more

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