Guided by John Willis, become more effective at listening to and collaborating with your subjects and their community to make images telling the stories they feel need to be told.
Jul 3, 2023 - Jul 7, 2023
Workshop Fee: $1395
Workshop Duration: 1-week (Monday-Friday)
Workshop Location: On-campus
Class Size: 8
Photographers frequently want to make images of the world around us and beyond our personal lives and homes. As practitioners, we often take photographs of others, intending to serve a cause by raising awareness or educating the audience.
Guided by photographer John Willis, in this workshop, we will discuss how we can be more effective at giving voice to subjects and collaborating as positive allies working with the community to make images and tell stories the community feels need to be told. Sometimes the best way is to work collaboratively with the subjects. At the very least, we must listen, learn from the subjects, and engage toward a more favorable outcome.
The explored topics will be relevant to anyone wanting to work and connect with any community through any medium or initiative. Workshop participants will explore the topics, make personally chosen community engagement projects, and collectively work with a local community organization (TBD) on issues affecting the region.
With the support of visiting artists’ presentations from experienced practitioners and those we hope to make photographs about, we will dig into nuances of community engagement, and related complexities.
1) To improve the participant’s general photography skills: visually, technically, and conceptually – in relationship to our awareness of the exploratory process, image quality, editing, and presentation. This will allow us to recognize how our voice can contribute to effective communication.
2) To increase our awareness of the many ways images communicate. We will consider all aspects of the photographer’s approach as a suitable means to help deliver desired content. We will do so by keeping in mind cultural and historical influences from those we carry with us, the subject’s experiences, and any preconceived notions the viewers can have.
3) To contemplate and become more attuned to various implications of how photographers photograph others or share stories about people without needing to include the people in the images and to engage the community of subjects and viewers. We will find methods to blend our visual language and collaborative efforts, to support the concerns of the community we have engaged with so that through sharing, we in fact do raise awareness or achieve other possible goals.
Note: Week-long participants might additionally be interested in continuing this conversation online with John Willis over a 6-week time period. View the online class.
All images by John Willis.
Instructor: John Willis
John Willis is a photographer whose personal work and teaching typically fall within the social documentary genre, engaging the communities he works within. He considers volunteer and service community engagement work an essential part of his life. Willis is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship 2010 and an Open Society Institute Community Engagement Grant, among other awards. His photographs are in numerous permanent collections, among them the Library of Congress, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, National Gallery of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and Whitney Museum of American Art. Willis’ books include Mni Wiconi/Water Is Life: Honoring the Water Protectors at Standing Rock and Everywhere in the Ongoing Struggle for Indigenous Sovereignty, Views from the Reservation, Recycled Realities (with Tom Young), and Requiem for the Innocent, El Paso and Beyond, a collaboration with writer Robin Behn and composer Matan Rubenstein. The project has also become a short experimental film designed for an art installation.