Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Effective Term: Summer 2024
Units: 0
Hours: 3 lecture, 3 laboratory per week (72 total per quarter)
Degree & Credit Status: Non-Degree-Applicable Non-Credit Course
Foothill GE: Non-GE
Transferable: None
Grade Type: Non-Credit Course (Receives no Grade)
Repeatability: Unlimited Repeatability

Student Learning Outcomes

  • A successful student will create photographs that demonstrate an understanding of light, color, and composition and communicate complex ideas and reflect on this process.
  • A successful student will assess the contributions made in this field by people from diverse cultures and backgrounds.


A survey of the historical and practical aspects of photography as an art form and social document. Students will be introduced to the use of light, composition, and communication through images. Significant photographers from a diversity of backgrounds will inspire students in the practice of photography and developing an understanding of the varied uses of the photographic image in our culture, including advertising, journalism, social concern, fine art, and scientific applications.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:

  1. Recognize and describe works of photography which distinguish different applications of the medium to modern communication and culture
  2. Analyze how photographers use different equipment and photographic techniques to communicate by examining the work of great photographers throughout history in all genres of the medium
  3. Examine the development of photographic technology through the study of historical and contemporary important works of photography
  4. Identify the various uses of composition in photography and explain how composition is related to the overall meaning and purpose of the photograph
  5. Identify the importance of light, related light conditions, and composition to the overall meaning of the photograph
  6. Compare great works in terms of composition and how the composition contributes to our perception and meaning of the photograph
  7. Examine the content and context found in great works of photography via written responses
  8. Describe the evolution of photographic equipment throughout history, including how different media establishes the overall expressive and conceptual meaning of the work
  9. Evaluate and critique class projects using relevant terminology in oral or written formats
  10. Examine and describe contemporary developments, trends, materials, and approaches in photography
  11. Identify the various uses of lighting in photography and explain how lighting is related to the overall meaning and purpose of the photograph

Course Content

  1. Introduction to photographic history - journalism, documentary, fine art, scientific
    1. Analyze the correlation between scientific discovery and photography, including improvements in chemistry and optics, especially the contributions of early practitioners, including Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre, Sir John Herschel, Nicephore Niepce, William Henry Fox Talbot
    2. Apply this understanding to the use of traditional and contemporary tools of photography
    3. Evaluate the contribution of significant photographers from diverse backgrounds to photographic history, such as Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Ruth Bernhard, Gordon Park, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Dorothea Lange, and Harold Eugene "Doc" Edgerton
    4. Apply understanding of the historic use of images to communicate and persuade by creating projects that communicate about contemporary issues and concerns
  2. History of composition and understanding of the tools of composition
    1. Analyze the use and application of the rule of thirds, the golden ratio, and other visual design elements in photography, looking at Leonardo Da Vinci, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Alfred Stieglitz, and Paul Strand
    2. Study the use of repeating shapes and scale in the work of Eadweard James Muybridge, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Andre Kertesz, and Margaret Bourke-White
    3. Analyze the use of spatial perspective and foreground, middle ground, and background in the great works by Edgar Degas, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Eugene Atget, Robert Frank, and others
    4. Application of the concepts of compositions to create effective photographs to communicate ideas and concepts
  3. Historic perspectives on camera technology
    1. Analyze the contributors to the camera's development from the camera obscura (with developers such as Aristotle, Leonardo Da Vinci) and its early use by the Dutch Master painters (such as Johannes Vermeer) to the modern transformation of the camera to its current state by inventors and entrepreneurs (such as George Eastman, Edwin Land, and Ren Ng)
      1. Film cameras and their uses
      2. Digital cameras and their uses
    2. Impact of changes in technology on the authenticity of the photograph as a document, including use in propaganda, in journalism, and for evidentiary purposes
    3. Analyze and apply the use of these tools in documentary, commercial, and artistic expression
  4. Evaluate the creative use of camera controls looking at commercial and artistic expressions
    1. Evaluate the control of motion through the use shutter speed, looking at the work of masters, such as Eadweard Muybridge, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Wynn Bullock
    2. Create images that demonstrate control of focus and depth of field considering the work of the first art movements in photography, including Group F64 and the Pictorialists
    3. Examine the use of metering and sensitometry tools and apply them to photography
    4. Differentiate the different lenses and focal lengths and their effect on photographic space and compositions
  5. Seeing and controlling light
    1. Analyze the use of natural light by practitioners such as Gertrude Kasebier, Harry Callahan, Frederick Evans, and Minor White
    2. Analyze the great work of photography by masters of flash and studio, such as Irving Penn, Arnold Newman, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Avedon, Yousuf Karsh
    3. Application and practice using light in images
  6. Printing and presentation of photographs
    1. Demonstrate preparing and printing images
    2. Analyzing professional presentation of images and demonstrate in final project
  7. Content and context
    1. Analyze great works by legacy and contemporary artists, such as Jerry Uelsmann, Man Ray, Manual Alvarez Bravo, and Diane Arbus
    2. Application and practice in using metaphor, personal meaning, and symbolism in a photograph
  8. Critique
    1. Analyze and critique great works of photography from history in written formats
    2. Examine and describe contemporary developments, trends, materials, and approaches in photographic artists, such as Andreas Gursksy, Edward Burtynsky, Richard Misrach, William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander, Robert Adams

Lab Content

  1. Assignments and exercises that explore the use of photographic equipment and techniques
  2. Assignments and exercises related to composition and how to express with composition
  3. Assignments and exercises that practice the use of light in photographs
  4. Preparation of professionally presented photographs using both matting framing and digital presentation techniques
  5. Visit and review photography exhibitions in museums and galleries
  6. Exercises that have students make revisions or corrections and edit their photographs
  7. Critiques and evaluation of assignments and exercises

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

1. A lecture room equipped for viewing motion pictures, slides, and videotapes; computer with projection ability, access to still cameras and other demonstration equipment as needed.
2. When taught via Foothill Global Access: on-going access to computer with email software and capabilities, email address, JavaScript-enabled internet browsing software.

Method(s) of Evaluation

Methods of Evaluation may include but are not limited to the following:

Portfolio review - photographs will be evaluated for technical ability, craftsmanship, and personal creative and conceptual approaches
Written or oral critiques
Written paper(s) on selected topics in photography
Assignments integrating photographs, writing, and analysis
Final project or final exam

Method(s) of Instruction

Methods of Instruction may include but are not limited to the following:

Lecture presentations and classroom discussion using the language of photography, media, and art history
Electronic discussions/chat responding to visual and written prompts about history, issues, and techniques in photography and art
Laboratory practicing and applying concept from the lectures
Demonstrations of technical process in photography
Field trips to see photographs and artwork with discussion about application to course content
E-portfolio to share photographs and exercises and practice written responses to visual images
Critique of presentations of projects with thoughtful commentary and evaluation

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Perry, Heather. National Geographic Complete Photo Guide: How to Take Better Pictures (ISBN-13: 978-1426221439). 2021.

Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

  1. Photographer paper: 1-3 page paper (900-2700 words) about a photographer or topic in photography that inspires you. Biographical information and significance in history or techniques of photography should be discussed. Use the worksheet from the handouts page to help you gather information and know what questions to ask. You should use a minimum of three sources, one of which must be a book in researching this photographer. Your paper will be posted in the Discussion Area. Each student will read all other presentations and make thoughtful comments on at least two other students' papers
  2. Concerned photography assignment:
    1. Our photographer of the week is Sebastiao Salgado. Do you find his work inspiring? Why or why not
    2. Review the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for inspiration on topics:
    3. Think of two or three issues that concern you. Write about these issues. How would you photograph these issues in a way to make us care, in a way that would make us act?
    4. Shoot thirty photographs (print, slide, or digital) that begin to address one of the issues that concern you. Post eight (8) most effective images. Also write a short essay on what inspired you to take the images you took and post in the description of image 01. Refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the work of Sebastiao Salgado in your short essay
  3. Photography exhibition review assignment: Visit photography exhibition or gallery from instructor's approved list. Write a paper that analyzes presentation and artistic intent of the work and relates it to a historic context. Refer to examples from lectures and discussions and use the vocabulary from the readings to prepare this paper