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CUNY Graduate School of Journalism


Spring 2014


Jennifer S. Altman |  jenniferaltman@msn.com | 917-968-8093

Room 442 | Monday, 1:30pm – 4:20pm | Office Hours TBA

Course syllabus (PDF)



This is an introductory course in photojournalism presented in a multimedia context. Students will use the journalism school’s Canon dSLRs (those who have equivalent cameras of their own are encouraged to use them). The course will be taught as a hands-on workshop. Instruction will progress from basic camera operation and the news “one shot” to more comprehensive visual storytelling that may incorporate audio, video or other multimedia components.

Despite technologies that in recent years have transformed how news photography is produced and distributed, the strength of the still image remains undiminished. In fact, the market for stories communicated visually has never been stronger. Photographs, presented alone or as an essay in a multimedia context, continue to provide the photojournalists who make them a uniquely powerful window onto the world in which we live.

The semester will be divided into several components: single image stories, camera and technique, photo essay production, presentation and the pro marketplace.  Students will be responsible for weekly assignments as well as two long-term projects.  We will address relevant topics in photojournalism such as news, copyright, ethics, gender and war photography.

Much of the courses content and supporting material will be present on the class websiteStudents are responsible for weekly readings, quizzes, tutorials, resource material and discussion presented on the site and for digitally transmitting the assignments.

Students are encouraged to use assignments for other courses as the basis for work in this course when appropriate and with the permission of the instructor. Students may also use the course to develop a photo component for their capstones. There will be the opportunity to do extra credit work through photographer biography presentations and additional assignments.

Course content will include:

  • Comprehensive instruction in the use of the Canon Rebel XTi/T2i dSLR, including an introduction to the school’s super-wide and telephoto lenses, flashes and other accessories (students with comparable cameras of their own may use them)
  • The essential elements of good visual storytelling
  • How to photograph the single-image news and feature assignment
  • Techniques for developing and structuring professional caliber long-form photo stories
  •  How to edit, caption, keyword and organize large numbers of photos and audio
  • Intermediate/advanced use of post-production software including Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, a variety of photo content management tools (CMS) such as Photo Mechanic, and several online presentation tools such as iPhoto, Jux, and WordPress.
  • Tools and standards for building a professional portfolio and presenting visual work online.

Photo equipment requirements: Students should rent cameras and other materials from the school and have to obtain Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 for editing on their personal computers.



Grades for the course will be broken down as follows:

  • First eight weekly assignments : 40 percent
  • First photo essay: 20 percent
  • Second photo essay: 20 percent
  • Class participation (including online discussions, professionalism and attendance: 20 percent
  • Quizzes will be factored in.

Attendance is mandatory. Students who must miss a course should notify me beforehand. Extra credit is available to students who wish to do a 10-15 minutes presentation on a photographer of their choice. Other projects may be considered for extra credit.

Students who wish to incorporate material from the class into a capstone project or work for other courses may be able to make special arrangements.



NOTE: While news values and ethics in photojournalism do not appear as a specific topic in the outline below, we will discuss it frequently in the context of what is outlined. We will also talk about timely issues in the photojournalism world. Items on the syllabus may be subject to change as relevancy evolves throughout the semester.

Three quizzes will be given through the term at instructor’s discretion.


Class One – Introduction

  • Course overview
  • Intro to the Canon Rebel T2i
  • How to file assignments
  • Technical class
  • Assignment #1


Class Two – Post production tools and the pro camera bag

  • Review of assignment #1
  • Examples of student work
  • Technical class
  • Tips for success in photography
  • Camera equipment: What’s in a pro camera bag (and what does the school have)?
  • Post-production tools — Review of Lightroom and assorted CMSs
  • Importance of Captioning
  • Assignment #2


Class Three – The environmental portrait and more on post-production software

  • Review of assignment #2
  • Photographer of the day
  • The vocabulary of photography and photo critique
  • Technique and technical review
  • Shooting the environmental portrait
  • Shooting the self-portrait.
  • Jpeg/RAW file management
  • Assignment #3


Class Four – Photographing Places, Object and Events

  • Review of assignment #3
  • Photographer of the day
  • Photographing objects, places and events
  • Working with reporters
  • Finding stories
  • Navigating access
  • Making the agreement to move forward with a subject
  • In-Class Lighting Workshop
  • Assignment #4


Class Five – The Photo Essay and Working with Flash (Strobe)

  • Review of assignment #4
  • Photographer of the day
  • Identifying photo essay projects
  • Assignment #5
  • Idea for an essay due


Class Six – Editing photographs

  • Review of assignment #5
  • Photographer of the day
  • Speaker: TBA
  • Editing your own work
  • Editing stories for publication
  • Talk about Web-based photo platforms


  • Assignment #6


Class Seven – On Assignment: From Local News to Travel Photography

  • Review of assignment #6
  • Photographer of the day
  • Writing For Photographers
  • Assignment #7
  • Ideas for first photo essay


Class Eight – Developing themes and personal style 

  • Review of assignment #7 and #8
  • Photographer of the day
  • Professional style and personal vision
  • Ideas and contact for First essay/series due
  • First photo essay shoot to begin


Class Nine – Field Trip to shoot or Exhibit or Agency Visit &/or some class time.

  • Review of First photo essay shoot
  • Begin shoot 2 of first photo essay


Class Ten – Photography in a Multimedia Context and with Audio in Particular

  • Review of first photo essay/part one and 2 of assignment
  • Examples of audio slideshows
  • Collecting sound for use with photos
  • Review of basic audio tools in the context of use with photos and audio editing

-Relevant audio recorders and microphones

-Final Cut

  • Photo essay/part three of assignment
  • Talk about ideas for second photo essay and confirm choices


Class Eleven – Studio Lighting

  • Review of photo essay/part three and whole assignment
  • Use of class time for workshop with students shooting, either in studio or we will go on location.
  • Review of basic three-point lighting and other photo techniques
  • Specialized lighting equipment, tethering and other studio techniques
  • Other options:

-Photo in interactive graphics, maps, polls and text

-Photo and video

-Crowd-sourced photography

  • Final long-term assignment (Multimedia/photo essay), Second photo essay started/Part one
  • Ideas due and contact made for second essay


Class Twelve – Planning the multimedia piece. Class based photo project?


  • Individual or group?
  • Presenting the multimedia piece
  • Review of final first photo essay/part one
  • Review of completed final first photo essay. FINAL IMAGES DUE, MUST BE IN SEQUENCE.
  • Final long-term assignment (Multimedia/photo essay), Second photo essay started/Part two
  • Go over multimedia components
  • Speaker TBA


Class Thirteen – The professional world of photojournalism


  • Review of Final photo essay/part two
  • Final Photo Essay/Part 3
  • Confirm mulitimedia components
  • The Photo Portfolio
  • Copyright and fair use of photographs
  • Photojournalism ethics
  • What editors are looking for

-Developing the portfolio site, ‘The look’, Presentation tools

  • Selling your work

-Agencies, PhotoShelter, Others


Class Fourteen – The future of photojournalism

  • Emerging tools
  • Experimental photo projects
  • Mobile photography
  • Changing pattern of distribution
  • Speaker: TBA
  • Final part 3 for story due and final project fully edited due

Class Fifteen – Review of final projects