Course Syllabus



Syllabus: JOUR-175 - Photojournalism


About the Course:

This course begins with the technical fundamentals of photography. First, we explore the three variables of exposure: aperture, shutterspeed and ISO, their reciproal mathematical relationship, and the aesthetic consequences of manipulating each variable. We then examine optics, lenses, and seeing light before exploring composition, the decisive moment, and basic on-camera and off-camera auxillary lighting. After covering these fundamental skills, we reframe the use of photography for the journalist and explore the photojournalist’s code of ethics. The course then expands its focus to creating meaning through both single images and multiple-picture packages.


This is not an art photography course. During the technical skills acquisition portion of the course, your work will be evaluated accoring to objective, quantifiable criteria (ie: how well you’ve demonstrated command of exposure reciprocity, white balance, lens effects, etc). During the photojournalism portion of the course, your work will continue to be evaluated along objective technical lines, but it will also be evaluated according to its content, both aesthetic and journalistic. Daily quizzes are worth approximately 10% of your grade, and homework assignments are worth approximantely 50%. Your midterm and final projects in this class will be pieces of the same larger photojournalism portfolio and together are worth the remainder of your grade.


Each assignment in this course will build upon previous assignments and is meant to be tackled in order. The didactic purpose of each assignment will be clear at the outset, as will criteria and precedents for success. For instance, following a lecture on shutter speed, your assignment will reinforce concepts covered in the lecture. Following the shutter speed lecture and assignment, you will be expected to continue to implement the techniqies of shutter-speed manipulation in your ongoing work. These lessons cannot be taken out of order, as each concept builds on the body of knowledge of all previous concepts. In other words, missing a class will be a major setback.


The instruction begins at the beginning, so to speak, and students need no prior knowledge of photography or camers. Students will, however, need consistent access to a fully manual-capable digital single lens reflex camera with detachable lenses (SLR camera) as well as the computer and software necessary to capture, caption and file the images on a regular basis. Though you have both cameras and computers available to you through the Extension School, you will likely find it easier to source your own camera at the very least.  


Disability services

The Extension School is committed to providing an accessible academic community. The Disability Services Office offers a variety of accommodations and services to students with documented disabilities. Please visit for more information.


Academic Integrity

You are responsible for understanding Harvard Extension School policies on academic integrity ( and how to use sources responsibly. Not knowing the rules, misunderstanding the rules, running out of time, submitting "the wrong draft", or being overwhelmed with multiple demands are not acceptable excuses. There are no excuses for failure to uphold academic integrity. To support your learning about academic citation rules, please visit the Harvard Extension School Tips to Avoid Plagiarism (, where you'll find links to the Harvard Guide to Using Sources and two, free, online 15-minute tutorials to test your knowledge of academic citation policy. The tutorials are anonymous open-learning tools.


A Special Note to This Class:

Each of you is coming from a unique place and heading a different direction – moreso than a class with a more homogenous student body. What you’re seeking in this course may not necessarily align with your classmates, with the pace of the material, or both. I’ve done my best at the outset to tailor the course to our specific group. My style is to approach each session with armloads full of information – perhaps too much information – from which you may take what you wish. My hope is that you will never leave the class hungry. Rather, I hope to leave you each day like so many stuffed pythons, with the intervening week to digest your meal of apertures and shutter speeds, compositional devices and the like. The assignments are designed to test and reinforce the skills taught in lecture. We will review each week’s work together at the beginning of class, so much of this learning is done out-loud and in concert with each other. The midterm and final are designed to synthesize the skills you learn as well as to produce a useful portfolio you can take with you to further your pursuits in the field.


The lectures build on one another – for this reason, missing a class may derail your ability to keep apace with future material and there isn’t room in the schedule for wholesale review. If you already know that you cannot make it to several classes, you may want to look into taking the course the next time it is offered.


I look forward to spending the semester with each of you!


Course Objectives:

  • Understand how an image can be intentionally crafted using the tools of exposure, lens, composition, moment and light and how to individually manipulate each of these variables to an effect
  • Relate ethical guidelines and boundaries in photojournalism to your own work and choices
  • Recognize, verbalize and employ the qualities of storytelling images
  • Demonstrate the following skills with digital workflow in still photography:
    • Digital photography workflow
    • Media management
    • Metadata and caption writing
    • Editing


Policies & Logistics:


  • Your grade in this course will directly reflect your comprehension and execution of skills fundamental to photography as well as your engagement in the course overall.
  • The homework exercises earn a points value that reflects skill execution, effort and completion. They are reviewed in a class-critique setting at the beginning of each class.
  • The midterm and final portfolios are graded quantitatively to assess comprehension and execution of technique and qualitatively to assess basic storytelling and journalism.
  • Daily quizzes are worth ~10% of your grade, the homework is weighted at ~50%, the midterm at ~20%, and the final at ~20%.


Daily Quizzes:

  • Daily quizzes at the beginning of class serve to test and reinforce your understanding of the material taught to date as well as to diagnose gaps in comprehension before they become problematic. You cannot make up a missed quiz.


House Rules:

  • No electronic communication devices, please. This includes laptop computers, tablets, and cell phones. I understand that many students like to take notes on tablets or computers. Not in this class – paper and pen/pencil only, folks!
  • No food or gum, per 53 Church Street regulations.



  • There is no formal penalty for missing class, though content will not be reviewed in a way that can make up for an absence.


Turning in work:

  • Your work is due by 7 pm on the day before class. We meet on Mondays – this means that work is to be turned in on the server by 7:00 pm on Sunday evening. This is when I will download the assignments from the server and grade them in advance of the next day’s session. Late work is not accepted and the folder will time-out at 7:01 pm. You can access the assignment folder on the course website.
  • Photos are to be taken and turned in as .jpgs (quality 8) – not RAW files, TIFF or any other format. This is both for space constraints as well as quality control.
  • Every photograph turned in for this class must have embedded metadata containing a journalistically sound caption – even those taken for purely technical exercises.
  • Every photo taken in this course must be taken on MANUAL.


File management:

  • Your digital files are your property and your concern, both in this class and in the professional world. Several things:
  • All of your work will live on an external hard drive that you bring with you to class. None of your media is to remain on the Harvard computers – those drives are wiped daily and you will lose your content.
  • Always keep an archive of your work, especially work you turn in on the server.
  • Keep the original un-toned version of your photographs. I may ask to see the original file if it looks like the toned version has been manipulated beyond ethical bounds.


Photo Gear (cameras, lenses, tripods, etc.)

  • You will need to have (or have regular access to) a full-manual capable, Digital Single Lens Reflex camera (DSLR), which functions in a way that enables learning the triad of exposure components as well as classical lens optics.
  • The camera MUST have a fully manual setting. (That means that you can independently manipulate ISO, shutter speed and aperture.)
  • If you do not own a DSLR, there are cameras you can check out from the equipment locker, but access is often restricted because many classes use a limited number of cameras.
  • As for lenses, it is ideal to have (or have access to) lenses that cover the range from wide to telephoto. You can also check out lenses from the gear locker. Wide lenses are <35 mm and telephoto lenses are >60 mm. The calculation becomes a bit more complex if your DSLR is not ‘full frame,’ – and consumer/prosumer models most are not – which adds a multiplier effect of approximately 1.5. This means a 16 mm lens is actually 16 mm x 1.5 = 24 mm. (We get to this more fully in optics.)
  • You do not need to own a tripod. If you need one, you can check one out from the locker.
  • Access to an external flash will be very helpful when we get to the auxiliary lighting lectures.


Computers and software

  • You will have access to the Harvard computer labs, so if you don’t own a computer, that’s OK. Just know for time-management purposes that you will need access to the computers on a regular basis. You can use Macintosh or PC computers
  • When you initialize/format your external hard drive for the first time, pay attention to whether you’re making it Mac or PC compatible.
  • 53 Church Street computer lab hours:
    • Sunday-Thursday 8 am - midnight
    • Friday-Saturday; 8 am - 10 pm
  • Photo software:
    • Adobe Photoshop (any version)
    • Editing software (recommended but not required) such as PhotoMechanic (my favorite), Adobe Bridge, or Lightroom.



Session Outlines:




Material Covered

Assignments + Reading



·      Intro to me

·      Intro to course

·      Art photography vs. photojournalism

·      Ethics/code of ethics in brief

·      Storytelling images

·      Captions

·      Gear overview – what need for class

·      Turing work in on server & naming conventions

·      Taking a picture: technical basics of how to take an image and turn it in

·      Intro to SLR camera

Image response short essay

·      Find photojournalism image and write a response about what draws you to that image. Enter that into the caption field)

Captioning and filing exercise

·      Take 3 different pictures in 3 different situations. Caption according to guidelines.

Single Lens Reflex cameras:





Logarithmic nature of aperture




·      Intro to SLR camera, continued

·      Understanding Exposure – aperture, shutter speed, ISO

Exposure reciprocity exercise

·      To be done in daylight outdoors

·      Take the exact same picture TEN TIMES with equivalent exposures and different settings. Manipulate all 3 variables (F-stop, shutter speed, ISO).

·      In the metadata field for each image: note the exposure settings (F-stop, shutter speed, ISO)

·      It's recommended that you approach this systematically rather than randomly



Depth of field:





·      Aesthetic effects of manipulating exposure components

·      Review midterm portfolio requirements

Aesthetic consequences of manipulating elements of exposure exercise (5 images)

·       To be done in daylight outdoors in a constant-light situation

·       Take the exact same picture at least FIVE TIMES with the exact overall same exposure but using different combinations of settings.

·       Keep the ISO constant.

·       Start with the lowest aperture (largest opening and smallest number) and go in FULL STOP INCREMENTS to the highest settings

·       In the metadata field for each image: note the exposure settings (F-stop, shutter speed, ISO) and then describe the image in comparison to the one previous to it.

·       Pay attention to: motion blur, depth of field.

·       If the images vary in brightness, you’re doing something wrong.


Stop action, motion blur, panning exercise

·      At least 9 different images from 9 different situations (9 total images)

·      Three images showing effective use of a fast shutter speed to stop action

·      Three images using slow shutter for motion blur

Three images using slow shutter speed with effective panning





Lens conversion factor




·      Lenses – wide, medium, telephoto + aesthetic consequences

Lens effects exercise

·      Three different situations, two images each (6 total images)

·      For each situation:

o   Shoot with wide angle setting

o   Shoot same content with long lens (you will have to back up)

o   To clarify: if the subject takes up most of the frame when photographed with a telephoto lens and you want to switch to a wide angle lens, you will have to get much closer to fill the frame with the subject with the wide lens.

o   Bottom line: the two images should look VERY similar. If they don’t, you’ve done this incorrectly.

o   In metadata of each, note the effects of the lens choice on content



White Balance: (Only up to “Raw




·      Seeing and understanding light

·      Color temperature

White balance exercise

·      Locate the “White Balance” function on your camera

·      Photograph the same situation with the following white balances:

o   Daylight (sun symbol)

o   Cloudy

o   Shade

o   Tungsten (lightbulb symbol)

o   Flash (lightning bolt)

o   Fluorescent (looks like a fluorescent bulb)

o   Skip “K” and “Custom” - we will get to those next class

·      Note in metadata which white balance it was, along with your observations on the color cast


Portraits in various lighting exercise

·      Photograph subject (can be same or different) demonstrating at least 5 different kinds and/or directions of light

·      In metadata, describe intent and execution

·      Full caption information required (5-w's)

·      Note in caption your intent and describe your approach.


Start to think about photostory subjects and ideas now



·      Composition and moment

Composition assignment

·      Make at least 5 images using compositional/artistic devices

·      Different situations

·      In metadata, describe intent and execution


Moment exercise

·      (3 images)

·      Social interaction between people

·      ‘Found' situation with an environmental or incidental peak moment

·      Sports action


Research photo story

·      Find photo story you think is effective

·      Write a response (several paragraphs to a page) and turn in on server. You can talk about the individual pictures and how the photographer used her/his technical skills and artistic devices to create images with maximum impact, but pay special attention to image variety and how they images play together to create larger bodies of meaning.

·      If possible, (right-click) download images and turn in on the server - be sure to include caption in metadata. If not, include direct link to photo story with response.

·      Think about what make the images storytelling in themselves and how they work together to tell a larger story



·      Intro to storytelling with multiple picture packages

Photo story proposals

·      Research and propose at least 3 different photo stories you could reasonably shoot in the remaining six weeks of the course

·      Each story proposal should be approximately 1 paragraph and thought through with attention paid to access, feasibility, visual potential and storytelling opportunities.


Assigned Reading:




·      Working various shooting scenarios:

o   Press conferences

o   Political events

o   Sporting events

o   Protests and demonstrations,

o   Sensitive/intimate settings

o   Food photography

o   Classic and environmental portraits

o   Street photography

Working event/situation + critique exercise

o   Select a shooting scenario from lecture and cover it

o   Turn in final images (3-5 favorites) and write a narrative how your worked the situation photographically. Include of self-critique of strengths and things you think you could have done better.

o   Bring your entire take to class in a folder on your external hard drive – and a laptop if you have one. We will partner up and critique these in class.



·      Partner critique


Finish midterm portfolios (2 parts)

·      Part 1 – technical skills

·      Turn in one picture each that showcases your use of (and use file name in parentheses):

1.     Selective exposure (name file SE)

2.     Shallow depth of field (name file (DOF)

3.     Wide angle (Wide)

4.     Fast shutter speed (Fast)

5.     Slow shutter speed (Slow)

6.     Telephoto (Tele)

7.     Moment (Moment)

8.     Compositional device of choice #1 (C_1)

9.     Compositional device of choice #2 (C_2)

10.  Compositional device of choice #3 (C_3)

11.  Deliberate white balance decision in mixed-lighting situation (WB)

·      Part 2 – working an event

·      Pick an event or news situation and work the situation thoroughly.

·      Include final images (3-5 favorites) in portfolio and name them event_1, event_2…

·      Write self-assessment of how approached and worked scenario.

·      Every image in midterm portfolio must have complete caption and must be a documentary journalism situation. The only situation in which you, the photographer, can assert control or influence is in a portrait.

·      NO LATE MIDTERMS accepted.



·      Photojournalism Code of Ethics (continued)


Photo Ethics Researched Image

·      Find example of photo or photo editing that is ethically contestable

·      Write 1-page (approx.), well-argued response to what choices went into making or selecting this image and why it was/was not the right decision

Documentary Approach Exercise

·      Find an event or situation (not random street photography) and work the situation to make images without influencing the situation

·      Turn 3 favorites in on server

Final Photo Story Proposal      

·      Submit detailed description of final story proposal. Include details about access, timeline, visual opportunities and journalistic relevance.



·      Intro to auxiliary lighting

·      On-camera flash


Flash photography assignment (9 images)

·      Various on-camera strobe treatments

·      MANUAL settings

·      on-camera strobe direct flash 3 images (different situations)

·      on-camera strobe indirect flash (bounce) 3 images (different situations)

·      try long exposure with flash, bounced and direct (3 images)



·      Off-camera lighting

·      Fashion photography

·      In-class studio lighting demonstration

Off-camera lighting assignment

·      Partner up (optional)

·      Using strobes or studio lights and remote sync cord or radio slave, photograph portrait of subject using 3 different creative lighting setups inspired by those covered in previous lecture



·      Photojournalism in the news

(next class) Bring progress of photostory (8-15 images) to class (on hard drive and printed out – basic printer paper is fine, in color) for group critique



·      In-class critique of photo story progress

Finish photo story and finalize portfolio for final submission



·      Final portfolios due


Comprised of midterm portfolios + Photostory of 8-12 images accompanied by written article accompaniment



Instructor Contact:


Dina Rudick



  • Please email for general communication
  • No texting please
  • In e-mails, please fill write the course name followed by urgent or

non-urgent. Example:


JOUR-176 – non-urgent

~ or ~



  • ‘Office hours’ are by arragnement, generally before or after class



Course Summary:

Date Details Due