Final Portfolio Instructions
Choose a body of work, ideally presented in a photobook, by a photographer with a distinctive point of view, and create a multimedia portfolio exploring that body of work. Articulate a thesis or interpretation about the body of work and the point of view it expresses. You will support your thesis through research, analysis and photo selection, and by taking your own photos inspired by the creative process of the artist you have chosen to explore. Your thesis should be sure to consider the Jewish dimensions of the photographer. If you wish, you may try to answer the question posed by Alan Trachtenberg,
“is there a Jewish eye?” or consider the argument presented by Max Kozloff regarding a “Jewish sensibility.”
Calendar of Deadlines
- Due November 6 at noon – Choose a Body of Work (ideally a photobook) and write about the theme you plan to explore
- Due November 13 at noon – Draft of Methodology and Introduction with thesis and argument.
- Due November 19 at noon – Take Your Own Photos & Post Photo Selections, Gallery and Slideshow
- Due November 27 at noon – Draft of Photos & Analysis; commentary on several student’s portfolios.
- Due December 4 at noon – Complete Draft of Final Portfolio Site
- Due December 11 at noon – Final Portfolio Site
Start by viewing a student portfolio example here.
Your portfolio will include the following pages:
» Thesis & Background // Your thesis about the body of work and point of view you’ve chosen to explore, as well as background about the artists that lead you to your thesis. See example.
» Methodology // What are the methods your artist uses in his/her photography? How did you attempt to see through his/her point of view by taking your own photos? See example.
» Photos & Analysis // Presentation of your own photographs inspired by that point of view. Text articulating what taking your own pictures taught you about the photographer’s point of view and its relevance. What is liberating about the point of view you’ve chosen to explore? How does it challenge you to look at the world differently? See example.
» Conclusion // Did you come to understand your Jewish photographer differently after taking your own photos? What did you learn about your thesis? See example.
» Sources // List of all your sources with hyperlinks. Be sure to separate photo sources from written research sources. See example.
You must include each of these elements:
» Embed at least 1 video or audio of interview source that supports your thesis
» Hyperlinks in your narrative to at least 5 webpages that enhance or support your claim by giving additional context.
» At least one photo gallery
» At least one slideshow
» Photos by your photographer
» Selected photos you took inspired by your photographer
These elements should work together holistically to support your thesis.
Photobooks and Artists to Consider
Richard Avedon, Evidence, 1944-1994
Bruce Davidson, Subway
Mitch Epstein, Family Business
Larry Fink, Social Graces
Robert Frank, The Americans
Jim Goldberg, Rich and Poor
Nan Goldin, Ballad of Sexual Dependency
Lauren Greenfield, Fast Forward
Arthur Leipzig, Growing Up in New York
Joanne Leonard, Being in Pictures
Helen Levitt, A Way of Seeing
William Klein, Life is Good & Good for You in New York!: Trance Witness Revels
Richard Nagler, My Love Affair with Miami Beach
Sylvia Plachy, Self-Portrait with Cows going Home
Stephen Shore, American Surfaces
Larry Sultan, Pictures from Home
Weegee, Naked City
Draft of your “Thesis & Background” page (at least 200 words) On your “Thesis & Background” page, write a short piece about the photographer and body of work (preferably a photobook) you’ve chosen. Discuss the theme you will be exploring. (at least 200 words) Instructions: Select a body of work to focus on in your portfolio. You may choose a subset of a photographer’s work, such as Larry Fink’s photo-book Social Graces, Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency, or Joanne Leonard’s Being in Pictures. Or, focus on a theme or subject the photographer was interested in, such as Helen Levitt’s depictions of children on the street. Start by researching your artist:
- What did the photographer write or say about his/her own work and the process of creating it? Look for interviews with photographers for potential answers.
- What do photography critics and historians say about how to look at and understand the work you’ve chosen to explore?
- What’s the relationship between the artist’s personal background, including his/her Jewish upbringing and the historical era in which he/she lived, and his/her approach to photography?
- What was liberating or innovative about the photographer’s approach? How did it take the photographer into new areas and introduce new ways of seeing?
- At least three images from the body of work you will explore
There are two parts to this assignment. You will be working on both the “Methodology” page and “Thesis & Background” page Draft of Methodology On your “Methodology” page discuss what methods your artist uses in his/her photography and how you will attempt to take photos inspired by his/her point of view. (at least 300 words) Instructions: One way to explore a photographer’s point of view is to take photos inspired by that point of view. Study the photographer’s creative process, technical methods and point of view and use that research as a jumping off point to inspire your own creative process and vision.* Develop a plan for taking photos inspired by the body of work you’ve chosen to explore by asking yourself:
- How did the photographer go about taking photos?
- What was his/her process?
- Did he/she try to get people to perform for the camera?
- Did he/she stage the photographs?
- Is there movement or stillness in the frame?
- How did the photographer’s choice of subjects, use of focus, depth of field, contrast, color, composition, etc. contribute to the expression of a point of view?
- Lastly, ask yourself: “How can I apply that point of view to my own work?”
- To take photos inspired by the work of Helen Levitt, you might look for something happening on the street. Start at the perimeter and work your way towards the subject, get progressively closer.
- To take photos inspired by William Klein, you might ask people to perform for your camera. What gestures or expressions can you get people to perform for you?
- For Nan Goldin, “The thing about my work is, nothing is prearranged, prethought, premeditated. In no way was I directing the pictures; they’re just fragments of life as it was being lived. There was no staging. When you set up pictures you’re not at any risk. Reality involves chance and risk and diving for pearls.” – Nan Goldin interview on American Suburban X. You might ask yourself what intimacy looks like in people who are close to you, then make a plan for capturing that intimacy over the course of a weekend. Take at least 30 photos so people get used to your use of the camera.
- Articulate the method your photographer used and how you plan to take photos inspired by the photographer you’ve chosen to explore.
- What are you going to photograph and how are you going to photograph it?
- What methods will you use to take your own photographs? *
- Where and when will you take pictures?
- How does your plan relate to your central claim and what do you expect to find? For example, you could use Nan Goldin’s statement to explain your methodology for keeping your camera with you constantly throughout a weekend and taking many photos, even though you know not every moment will be worth capturing.
- Include images by your photographer than illustrate his/her method and your approach.
- What about the photographer’s work catches your eye? How does it inspire you? What does it evoke for you? What does it “say”?
- What are the subjects and themes depicted in the photos?
- Is there a central theme or idea the photographer’s work expresses?
- How did he/she explore that theme? What techniques did he/she employ? Why were they effective?
- How do these themes relate to Jewish events, history, and experiences?
- Thinking back to your photo icon exercises, what makes this photographer’s work iconic?
- What about the photographer’s cultural and historical context and personal background is relevant to his or her work?
- What makes this photographer’s work relevant today?
- What about this photographer and his or her work makes it interesting for you to explore?
Take Photos and embed Photo Selections, Gallery, Slideshow on your “Photos & Analysis” page Take your own photos inspired by the methodology of your chosen photographer. Make sure to take at least 20 photos, the more the better. Review the photos you’ve taken, compare them to the photographer’s body of work you’ve chosen to explore and make decisions about what to include. Consider how your photographer selected and presented his/her work. Did he/she show or select a few carefully selected photos, or did s/he arrange and rearrange many photos? After you’ve taken the photos, show your photos to a classmate and discuss how you will present your selected photos on your portfolio site. On your “Photos & Analysis” page, post:
- Create a gallery with all the photos you took. This is a chance to show the bulk of your photos in addition to your selections.
- Selected photos
- Select at least 2 photos that you took that you will discuss in your analysis. Insert them into the page as large images.
- Slideshow 1
- Select at least 5 photos you’ve taken and create a slideshow.
- When creating the slideshow, think about how showing photographs in sequence, rather than viewing them as individual images affects the meaning.
- In a series, the sum (the series) is greater than the parts (the individual photos).
- Slideshow 2
- Create a slideshow of the photographer’s photos that matter to you.
1,000 words Integrate your analysis into your “Photos & Analysis” page and revise your photo selections. First, discuss with a classmate how you plan to organize your multimedia portfolio.
- How will you present your own photos? How will you present the photographer’s body of work you’ve chosen to explore?
- How will you discuss examples of the photographer’s work in relation to your own creative process?
- By taking your own photos, what did you learn about the photographer and his or her process?
- What did you discover in looking at the photographer’s photos after you tried taking pictures of your own?
- Were there characteristics that you didn’t notice while you were taking the picture?
- What is challenging about trying to take photos like your photographer? What worked well and what didn’t work well? What surprised you?
- Did your approach to taking pictures evolve from your original idea? If so, why?
- What was liberating about the process?
- How does Jewishness matter in your own work? Since you are learning about Jewish photographers, what does this added dimension bring to your own work?
Complete the content for each page of your portfolio site and make revisions based on peer and instructor feedback.
- Add your “Conclusion” page.
- Revise the “Thesis & Background” page
- Revise the “Methodology” page
- Revise the “Photos & Anlaysis” page
- Make sure you have all your sources cited and hyperlinked.
- Include images
- Decide which page to put your video or audio interview source
- Include links to support your thesis and background
- Revise language into the past tense and edit
- How did you apply your photographer’s process in taking your own photos?
- How did your research influence your process and the results? Include relevant sources by linking to online sources.
- Include more images
- Did you come to understand your Jewish photographer differently after taking your own photos? What did you learn about the central claim you made in your earlier blog post?
- What did you learn about your thesis?
- Did your thesis change?
- How did doing this project in the 21st century influence your own interpretation of the 20th century?
- Include images
Revise the full portfolio based on peer and teacher feedback. Make sure to include:
- Thesis & Background: Your thesis about the body of work and point of view you’ve chosen to explore, as well as background about the artists that lead you to your thesis.
- Methodology: What are the methods your artist uses in his/her photography? How did you attempt to see through his/her point of view by taking your own photos?
- Photos & Analysis: Presentation of your own photographs inspired by that point of view. Text articulating what taking your own pictures taught you about the photographer’s point of view and its relevance. What is liberating about the point of view you’ve chosen to explore? How does it challenge you to look at the world differently?
- Conclusion: Did you come to understand your Jewish photographer differently after taking your own photos? What did you learn about your thesis?
- Sources: List of all your sources with hyperlinks.
- Embed at least 1 video or audio of interview source that supports your thesis
- Hyperlinks in your narrative to at least 5 webpages that enhance or support your claim by giving additional context.
- At least one photo gallery
- At least one slideshow
- Photos by your photographer
- Selected photos you took inspired by your photographer