Free Open-Source Online Street Photography Course: “All the World’s a Stage: Introduction to Street Photography”

1x1.trans Free Open Source Online Street Photography Course: All the Worlds a Stage: Introduction to Street Photography

In the spirit of the “Open Source Photography” approach, I present to you the free online street photography course: “All the World’s a Stage: Introduction to Street Photography.” The majority of this course material was made in 2012, and many of my thoughts and beliefs on street photography have changed since then. However if you are starting off in street photography and want a primer to start, this might be a helpful resource for you.

Also because this is an “Open Source” course, feel free to edit, remix, and distribute this course however you would like!

You can download the syllabus for the course here (.docx file). 

Update: I have also setup an informal Facebook group for this course. Unfortunately I cannot moderate it at the moment, but you can collaborate with other students here: All the World a Stage: Introduction to Street Photography Facebook Group

Below is a copy of the syllabus for the course:

Course Description

Have you ever seen somebody on the streets and had the irresistible urge to take a photo of them? Whether it was their face, the shadow they cast, or the background they were standing in front. Learn how to capture the beauty in the mundane of everyday life through this Introduction to Street Photography course. You will learn how to capture “Decisive Moments” as well as how to take candid photos of strangers up-close and personal.

In this course we will develop our eye for street photography by studying the masters such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, and many others. We will also study street photography in a sociological context, and learn how one can use the camera to explore society.

In the spirit of my thoughts on Open Source Photography, feel free to use any of these materials and edit/remix them as you would like.

Course Objectives

In this hybrid course, you will explore how to shoot street photography and how to interact with your subjects through readings, photos, videos, journals, and social experiments. Sociological theory will be used as a backbone for the concepts taught in the course, and your full participation (online and offline) is essential for gaining a personally enriching experience from the course.

How do you overcome the fear of shooting street photography and how do you create images that tell compelling stories? By the end of the course, you will build your confidence shooting on the streets, learn about the work of classic and contemporary street photographers, and understand the sociological impact of your images.

Expectations

Video Lectures: About every week there is a video lecture explaining the core principles of each week’s topic. You can see a playlist of all of the video lectures on YouTube here.

Readings: The assigned readings contain the backbone of this class:  sociological theory, photographic insight, and application.  Therefore all readings must be completed each week. All readings (besides the main text) will be available online.

Photo Assignments/Experiments: Each week, you will be given a certain street photography assignment, which will be a combination of photo assignments and sociological experiments.  Each experiment will correspond with the readings or issues discussed for the week. These are important because they will give you a fulfilling, hands-on approach to learning and experiencing street photography.

Journal Entries:  For the course you are required to write weekly journal entries on your blog (WordPress.com is preferable). After you have completed your assignment assignment for the week, they are expected to type up a full two paragraph (8 sentence) response blog post. You are required to address your personal experiences with the assignment and it must also relate back to the reading. Furthermore, these journals must be posted to your blog every Friday at midnight.

Final Project: By the end of the course, you are expected to complete a photo-essay of your choice, which will be determined by you by Week 5 of the course. The photo-essay will require a 2 page (double-spaced) essay as well as a series of 10-12 images. The paper will be due online on their blog during Week 10. You must include references to the assigned readings and assignments. Other personal experiences may be included in the paper.

Course Materials

For this course you will need a camera for the weekly assignments. It is preferable that you use a digital camera, as it will make it easier for you to quickly upload your weekly assignments. However if you prefer to shoot with film, simply make sure you can process your film and scan it each week.

The only text that will be necessary to purchase is listed below. All the other texts, articles, and videos will be available online.

Primary Readings

Course Outline

Week 1: “An Introduction to Street Photography”

Street photography is a unique type of photography that has been around for nearly a century. What exactly is street photography and how does it differ from reportage or documentary photography? What makes it so special and unique, and how does it help us learn what it means to be human?

Required Readings:

  • Photography and Sociology: Introduction by Howard Becker [.Doc file]: Link
  • Eric Kim: What is Street Photography? : Link
  • Nick Turpin: Photochart (street photography vs documentary): Link
  • Nick Turpin: Undefining street photography: Link

Experiment:

  • No experiment for the first week

Week 2: “The History of Street Photography”

Street photography is a discipline that has its roots since the invention of the 35mm rangefinder camera by Leica, which has helped many photographers capture the action and stories on the streets. How did the first street photographers capture moments in the streets, and what makes their photos so memorable?

Lecture

  • The History of Street Photography [PDF]: Link

Required Readings:

  • Looking at Photographs: Andre Kertesz (p 92)
  • Looking at Photographs: Brassai (p 110)
  • Looking at Photographs: Henri Cartier-Bresson (p 112)
  • Looking at Photographs: Helen Levitt (p 138)
  • Looking at Photographs: Robert Capa (p 146)
  • Looking at Photographs: W Eugene Smith (p 150)

Experiment:

  • Have a conversation with a stranger and ask them for permission to take their photo.

Week 3: “Aesthetics and Styles in Street Photography”

Street photography has a plethora of different styles and aesthetics when it comes to documenting the human condition. Which styles are prevalent when it comes to street photography, and what kind of stories does it tell to the viewer?

Video Lecture:

  • Week 3: “Street Photography Styles” [YouTube]: Link
  • PPT Download: Link

Required Readings:

  • In defense of the one-liner (Blake Andrews): Link

Experiment:

  • Look for signs (billboards, advertisements, arrows, etc) and try to juxtapose a person either standing next to it or walking past it.

*Start brainstorming for street photography essay

Week 4: “How to Shoot in the Streets”

One of the largest barriers that aspiring street photographers has is the difficulty in overcoming the fear of taking photos of strangers in public without their permission. How can we capture candid moments of those in our society and interact with them if they approach us? How can we use psychological and sociological concepts to help us overcome this obstacle?

Video Lecture:

  • Week 4: “How to Shoot in the Streets” [YouTube]: Link
  • PPT Download: Link

Required Readings:

  • Ways of Working (Article)- Link
  • Bruce Gilden (Video) – Link
  • Eric Kim (Video) – Link
  • Joe Wigfall (Video) – Link

Experiment:

  • See somebody you want to take a photo of, approach them and take their photograph without permission. After taking their photograph, wave at them, smile, and say thank you.

Week 5:  “Classic Street Photography”

In order to have an appreciation for contemporary street photography, it is essential to study the work of the masters before us. What styles did the classic street photographers create and how has their work influenced street photography as we know it today?

Video Lecture:

  • Week 5: “Classic Street Photographers” [YouTube]: Link
  • PPT Download: Link

Required Readings

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson Documentary – Link
  • Garry Winogrand Documentary: Part 1Part 2

Experiment:

  • Stand still at a busy intersection for 20 minutes. Take photos of people who come to you and don’t move.

*Street photography essay idea due on blog. Final project due by week 10.

Week 6: “Contemporary Street Photography” 

The past few decades, street photography has changed and evolved with an emergence of new talent and styles. How do contemporary street photographers differ in approach, and how does their work stack up against the work of the masters?

Video assignment:

  • Watch the In-Public “In-sight” Documentary – Link

Required Readings:

  • Street photography collective portfolios: (Look at the photos of photographers in each collective)

Experiment:

  • Take a photo of a stranger without their permission, and explain why you took a photograph to them. Show them the photo you took of them on your LCD screen, and offer to email them a copy of the photograph.

Week 7: “The Power of the Image”

Street photographers have the ability to make their viewers laugh, cry, be afraid, or think about the context in which we live in. How do images influence the lives of the viewers, and how can a photographer create a compelling and story?

Video Lecture:

  • Week 7: “How to Shoot in the Streets” [YouTube]: Link
  • PPT Download: Link

Required Readings:

  • Looking at Photographs: Robert Doisneau (p 172)
  • Looking at Photographs: Robert Frank (p 176)
  • Looking at Photographs: William Klein (p 180)
  • Looking at Photographs: Garry Winogrand (p 188)
  • Looking at Photographs: Josef Koudelka (p 202)
  • Reading: Evan Walker articles (will be provided)

Experiment:

  • Walk around an area for a neighborhood and after taking your first photo, wait five minutes until you take your next image. Repeat this until the hour is over.

Week 8: “How to Edit Your Work”

The term “editing” is often confused with “post-processing.” Editing is the act in which a photographer selects his or her best images, and lays out their images in a sequence that he or she feels best tells a story. However how can a photographer decide which images are their strongest and get rid of the weaker images?

Video Lecture:

  • Week 8: “How to Edit Your Work” [YouTube]: Link
  • PPT Download: Link

Required Readings:

  • Eric Kim: “The Importance of Letting Your Photos Marinate”: Link
  • Eric Kim: 15 Tips How Street Photographers Can Better Edit Their Work: Link
  • Nick Turpin: “Edit, edit, edit”: Link
  • Editing your portfolio by Zack Arias: Link

Experiment:

  • Go out for an entire day and go shooting. When you go back home, select your best 3 shots. Then go back to your portfolio and select the best 3 shots you have ever taken.

Week 9: “Ethics in Street Photography”

There is often much controversy over the ethics when it comes to street photography. Are there boundaries when it comes to street photography? If so, when is a street photographer too obtrusive? Where can one draw the line? Are there ethics in street photography?

Video Lecture:

  • Week 9: “Ethics in Street Photography” [YouTube]: Link
  • PPT Download: Link

Required Readings:

  • Mike Avina: “Expression Always Has Costs: The Issue of Street Photos and Ethics”: Link
  • Nick Turpin: “Why is he pointing his camera at me?”: Link
  • Brouhaha in Sweden following Award to Paul Hansen for his Image of Fabienne Cherisma: Link
  • Photojournalism isn’t always as it seems (Video) – Link

*Final street photography essay and images due on your blog.

Experiment:

  • Go out in public and ask 3 people to pose for you a certain way. Write about their reactions in your weekly journal.

Week 10: “Exhibition”

Share your final photo-essay of 10-12 images to your blog, as well as a 2-page double-spaced essay.

Update: I have also setup an informal Facebook group for this course. Unfortunately I cannot moderate it at the moment, but you can collaborate with other students here: All the World a Stage: Introduction to Street Photography Facebook Group

If you have any suggestions for changing, editing, or improving this free online course, please share your thoughts in the comments below! 

Upcoming Street Photography Workshops

If you want to conquer your fears and meet new peers, join me in Stockholm, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, NYC, Istanbul & More!

See My Upcoming Street Photography Workshops

  • aria

    but how to enroll?

    • Ilkka

      Seems like there is nothing to enroll. You just start from lesson one and work on it on your own.
      I would be tempted but I cannot follow a weekly schedule. And I cannot be bothered to set up a blog for this. But I will certainly study the material and even try at least some of the exercises, just for the fun of it.
      I would be happy to participate if somebody does set up a forum for posting and discussion. Sorry, don’t mean to be a pest but I have a day job (and a family to support) and am not a computer geek (meant in all respect to those who are savvy).

      • Nate Dorsey

        Eric, maybe you can set up a facebook page for the course? Might be the easiest, then people could post links to their blogs and essays and allow the opportunity for comments, posting pictures, etc…

  • http://www.stefannilsson.com/ Stefan Nilsson

    Not that I don’t appreciate the effort but it seems to lack a conclusion.

    Participants are supposed to write essays that probably no one will read? Why not create a community where people can discuss the weekly challenges and maybe take it to the next level by creating some kind of competition where you invite professional photographers to pick the weekly winner. Either make it a knockout competition or the one who wins most challenges win something. If you can’t get sponsors, maybe a free visit to a workshop.

    Just some thoughts.

    • geneva cegelis

      stefan, the structure and goal of this course seems to be more of a self guided exploration of street photography, wherein the essays could be thought of as more “journal entries”. Unless Eric, will you or someone else be reading and responding to the students’ essays and images? if not then is the purpose of the hard deadlines to keep students disciplined to finish the course? I agree with Stefan it would be great if the workshop participants could communicate and share their work and progress. That also would add some accountability that people will actually finish the course considering that most MOOCs have an average of a 90% dropout rate.

    • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

      Dear Stefan, great idea. Unfortunately I don’t have the resources to moderate these weekly assignments at the moment– but I have put together an informal Facebook group for people to use below:

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/204093716466210/

  • guest

    If is an Open Source course I think you should use an open format for the syllabus, not .docx

    • Peter

      Convert it yourself, download http://www.openoffice.org/ an alternative to M$ Office, and you will never face this issue again :)

    • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

      Haha oops, good point! But everything in the syllabus is included in the HTML of the site

  • Geneva Cegelis

    stefan, the structure and goal of this course seems to be more of a self guided exploration of street photography, wherein the essays could be thought of as more “journal entries”. Unless Eric, will you or someone else be reading and responding to the students’ essays and images? if not then is the purpose of the hard deadlines to keep students disciplined to finish the course? I agree with Stefan it would be great if the workshop participants could communicate and share their work and progress. That also would add some accountability that people will actually finish the course considering that most MOOCs have an average of a 90% dropout rate.

    • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

      Dera Geneva, great point. The structure of the course isn’t perfect– a lot of kinks I need to work out. I also added a structure to the course, just in-case any other educator wanted to use any of this information for his/her own class.

      However I setup an informal FB group, for people to keep in touch!

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/204093716466210/

  • Pete Boyd

    Hi Eric. Rather than defining your copyright licence in your own words as “feel free to use any of
    these materials and edit/remix them as you would like” you would do well to use an actual legally binding licence, that way people needn’t take you at your word and hope that your wording would stand up in court, they can use the materials in the knowledge that the copyright licence you’re giving them is legally binding.
    Such a licence would also prevent people taking your materials and removing the licence you have given them under, denying others who might not be aware they’re available for free on the web the freedoms that you have generously given them.
    A good licence is Creative Commons’ Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

    • Fabs

      Yawn…

  • Gary

    Thanks for this Eric.

  • Moisés Lucas

    Thanks Eric, but how to enroll?

    • aria

      it seems it’s just a self-study…

    • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

      Dear Moises– at the moment consider this course as a “self-study” one. In the future, I plan to do one that is more “real-time” and interactive!

  • Christian Straub

    Great Stuff, Eric! Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge and the sources. I hope everybody who is interested treats it with respect … It is a great way to keep the “fire burning” and find new inspiration even one reads the same things again and again. There is always a new aspect to discover in the way of making pictures!

  • Tatsu

    Looks great!!! Many thanks!!!

    Maybe there is a way to have a collaboraiton blog or something to take this “together” and get a feedback from each other ?

    • Marvin Fernandez

      This is a pretty good idea. :)

    • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

      Dear Tatsu,

      Great idea! Unfortunately at the moment I don’t have the proper infrastructure in play for the course. However, I have put together an informal Facebook group you can keep in contact with other students!

      You can join the FB group below:
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/204093716466210/

  • Pigpen pigpen
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  • Marvin Fernandez

    Thank you for this Eric! :)

    I restructured by blog just for this : http://marvfernandez.com/learning-street-photography-scratch/

  • makochan

    Thank you for sharing this Eric. Like others have mentioned a new Facebook group where people can interact as they take the course would be awesome, but it’s understandable if you already have too much on your plate.

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  • Satyam Kay Hart

    Thank you very much. Great work!

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  • Fletch

    So I’ve never done one of these courses before. Is it the whole course that is free, or just the introduction in Week One?

  • Spice

    Thanks for this Eric. but I can’t download Week 9: “Ethics in Street Photography” ppt. file. huhu

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  • Greg Holtfreter

    Hi Eric, just a quick note that the Week 4 Bruce Gilden video no longer exists. Thanks!

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