4.341/342 Witness and Counter-Documentary Practice: Introduction to Photography and Related Media

Instructor: Jesal Kapadia

What constitutes a document? What comprises an event? How do we see ourselves as witnesses? Investigating structures and conditions that produce a photograph, this course will explore the genres of photo-essay and counter-documentary practice, in order to cultivate a new form of affective media that goes beyond documentary and social media. We will trace the use of the camera as a witnessing device, as well as photography’s capacity as an experimental and aesthetic tool in the 20th century for the purposes of disrupting and transforming the ideological field of everyday life.

The course combines lectures, readings, practical instruction, visiting professionals, group discussions and critiques. Assignments are geared towards shooting a roll a week, and keeping a diary for notes and drawings. Equal emphasis will be placed on learning how to read an image as well as making pictures, and writing and using text as image. Work-in-progress will be reviewed and discussed continuously in a critical forum. Students will work with different analog and digital camera formats. Practical instruction in traditional and experimental black-and-white darkroom printing, as well as all aspects of digital imaging and output in state of the art facilities will be available. 35mm and digital SLRs, medium format cameras and 4×5 view cameras available for checkout. Production time outside class time is essential. Limited enrollment. Graduate students complete additional assignments.



  • Units: 3-3-6
    Lab Fee: $150
  • Schedule: MW 2-5pm
    Location: e15-054