ART 315, Photography May, 2002, Goshen College, © Marvin Bartel, Instructor

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Prerequisite - This course is open to students who have completed Art 255 or Comm 255: Photo Communication at Goshen College or an equivalent college level course at another college. 

IntroductionRequirements    Working Creatively
Class time and attendance   Self Assignments 
 Class Reports    Journaling Text
Related Reading and Internet Research
Equipment Materials   Field Trips
 Assignment Deadlines
Incompletes   Grading
Being Professional and Considerate
Hang in there   Assignments

Author Bio    |  Author HOME page


This is a course in making expressive and meaningful photographs with the goal of creating art. Individuality is expected. Some technical quality is assumed because of past experience, but students should never hesitate to ask for review or assistance.

Most students work with 35 mm single lens reflex camera. This is an advanced class, so it is assumed that basic film processing, printing, and camera controls are familiar. Some students use this course to learn to work with a medium format and/or a 4x5 format camera. Most students learn to do archival printing using fiber based paper. Many students present their completed work in archival mats. Some students make extensive use of digital imaging cameras and/or software.

We make photographs, look at them, discuss them, and learn from them. Students should not plan to cover too many topics. It is better to work for mastery.


Students complete a minimum of six projects from a minimum of 6 rolls of film (or digital equivalent). From these negatives you make study prints plus six or more mounted gallery quality print(s). The final prints need to be on 11 x 14 paper or larger.  The minimum size final square prints will be 10 x 10 images plus borders.  The minimum size rectangular printes will be 13 long images by whatever width makes the best composition.

Some assignment requirements are posted as web pages. Unless you have another proposal, you should use the posted assignments to get started.

Working Creatively

Never feel limited by an assignment. Generally, there is more film in your camera than you actually need to do an assignment. Use it for what interests to you. Carry the camera. Carry film. Don't miss spontaneous opportunities. Use these opportunities for extra credit if you get good images. We want photography based on informed decisions, skill, and lots of creative inspiration.  "Photography made easy," tends toward thoughtless cliché. Great work comes from a healthy combination of inspiration and perspiration - meaning hard work, lots of practice, some good fortune, passion for the work, and creative inspiration.

Class time and attendance

Class time is used to clarify assignment objectives, discuss technical aspects of assignments, demonstrate procedures, and review outcomes. Since a limited number of projects cannot cover every important topic, some class sessions will cover other issues and the work of other photographers as well. In addition to technical matters, various theories of interpreting and evaluating photographs will be discussed.

There are no automatically excused absences. All missed classes effect the grade negatively unless excused because of an unavoidable cause. All assignments and tests must be completed regardless of the reason for an absence.

Outside of class you will do background reading, preparation, make you exposures, process, print, and mount or mat your results. 

Project Assignments  (click to see the list)

Six major projects in this course are intended to enable you to improve your photographs. Generally each project includes at least three kinds of objectives: (1) subject matter communication (meaning), (2) aesthetics (composition), and (3) technical mastery (skill).

A major goal of the assignments is to become aware of photographic decisions. Taking pictures is so easy (anybody can do it). An important goal of the assignments is to make it difficult - and meaningful. This happens as we realize more of the options and how they influence the outcome.

Self Assignments

We all need to develop creative independence. You are encouraged to propose your own assignments in place of the listed ones. Generally you would do this in order to work in an area which is of greater interest to you than the regular assignments. Your own assignments should involve as much preparation and research as the regular assignments. You should propose them before doing them. Jot down ideas in your journal. You are invited to discuss possibilities at any point. Before doing the assignment, try to define what you might learn as well as what type of photographs you plan to make. Those who write their own objectives and assignments must include their intentions in regard to the three kinds of objectives listed above under Assignments. Have these approved in advance.

Field Trips
Plan to be away all day on May 10, 2002, for a field trip to Chicago by bus.  Part of the time is for making exposures and part of the time will be spent viewing photography.  Other shorter field trips by van are planned to make exposures.  Additional information is given in class. 

Class Report Assignments

Plan to make one illustrated presentation about a photographer whose work you respect. Bring in a handout for each class member with information about the photographer along with some sample photographs for the class to see.  Use at least one book and supplement it with at least one image from an Internet site (if possible).  See this web site by Charles C. DiVincenzo for an examples of a webquest assignment.  Book images can be scanned for use in Powerpoint.  Give credit for the published source of the image as well.  For books give author, title, date, publisher and page.  For Internet give specific web URL where you found the image, and give the sponsor of the web site.  See this page for instructions on taking images from a web site.


Keep a notebook in which you keep track of photographic ideas. Also use it to record your camera settings and darkroom timer and lens settings, text notes, reading reflections, and class notes. Include notes from Issues and Topics sessions, field trips, and from Visiting Artist sessions.


Assignments rely on specified background reading. You may use the same text as you used in the first term. The texts are not covered sequentially, but every project is based on information in the texts. Some test material is taken from assigned study in the text. Also read the texts on your own to increase your general photographic knowledge.

Related Reading and Internet Research

Always have at least one library book related to the course in your room where you see it frequently. Bring these books to class to share an insight or two. Three times during the term you will be asked to turn in journals. Browse current and recent issues of Aperture in the library. Journal the work of photographers you find most interesting. Reflect on your own life and note your own photographic responses.  If you are getting inspiration from the work of other photographers, do not imitate the work.  Steal their thought process, not their image ideas.  Use successful people's methods of inquiry, but never imitate their solutions.   Speculate about the motivation behind the images you study.  We do not study other work to imitate it, but to consider the artist's approach to innovation. 

In addition to bringing books to class, E-mail the results of your Internet discoveries to the instructor and others in the class several times during the term. Pass on the URL and a short description of each site you find useful.


You'll need your own 35 mm camera capable of manual f-stop, shutter speed, and focusing adjustments. Also, you need a built-in or separate light meter. If possible, you should also provide your own tripod and cable release.  Other equipment is available in the art department. 
This page provides information about cameras.


You will purchase your own fiber based printing paper and mounting supplies. Black and white 35 mm film and chemicals and 10 sheets of 11 x 14 RC paper are provided by the art department. The instructor reserves the right to charge student's accounts if they habitually waste departmental materials. Use test strips to conserve paper and reasonable care with film.

Assignment Deadlines

Deadlines will be announced and discussed in class.

If something goes wrong you should prearrange to have the deadline extended in order to receive full credit. Do not discard wasted film or paper until the instructor sees it. Save all evidence and contact the instructor and/or show it to the instructor so that you understand the problem and do not repeat the same error. You may phone the instructor any time between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. 533-0171. Contact for email.

Sometimes you can make the improvements or corrections on the next assignment's film to avoid getting behind.


Incompletes are only given for "acts of God" situations. They are not given for extra time to get work done. If your camera breaks down, ask for a loaner and keep working while you get yours repaired.


The major part of the grade in this course is based on your photographs. Photos are evaluated on criteria such as creativity, expressiveness, technical skill, and caring about the details. Other important parts of the grade include your record keeping and journaling, class report, field trip assignments (if any), your improvement, attendance and class participation, tests, darkroom housekeeping, and a review of the whole term's work.

Being Professional and Considerate

Growth in art is an elusive goal. Art classes are best when students develop a "studio atmosphere" in the work areas and during discussions. This means we practice friendship, helpfulness, mutual respect, and friendly competition. We raise questions of each other if we see problems (artistic or behavioral). We check with others before playing music in the work area. We each mix our share of chemistry. We never leave a mess for the next person, always leaving the place cleaner than we found it.

Hang in there

Murphy's law was written for photography. It's so simple to ruin a roll of film through no fault or by a moment of carelessness. Don't despair. Just do it over. There's no penalty to your grade so long as you prearrange a deadline extension (no extensions past the end of the term). Grieve but don't despair; it happens to me too. Mistakes are great teachers when we are open to learn and improve from them.

Assignments page for Art 315: Photography 
Other photo Assignments linked to Art 255
Other instruction helps linked to Art 255
Assignment list from John Blosser's Art 255 page
Catalog description for Art/Comm 255: Photo Communication as listed in the Department of Communication in the college catalog
Questions inspired by Mary Ellen Mark's exhibition

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Layout, photos, and text © 2000 
Contact Marvin Bartel, instructor 
Updated 30 April 2002