I just completed teaching a class at ICP (International Center of Photography) called Photographing New York: The Lower East Side. It was a class based on photographing the neighborhood and then assembling a book of our work.
I knew this would be a challenging class in that we were doing everything–shooting, editing, selecting, and designing–all in a ten week timeframe. The students were of diverse backgrounds from all over the world, and had varying degrees of experience, from near beginners to some whose work was nuanced and sophisticated. But the idea was to present each at his or her best and to create a coherent, “real book” that we would all be proud of.
My teaching assistant Ed Cheng and I both participated in the book–Ed contributed images of Eldridge Street where he had grown up, and I took my view camera out on the Bowery adding to an ongoing collection of pictures of the rapidly gentrifying former skid row. Although I have no doubt that a class based entirely on photographing the Lower East Side with a critique at the end would result in good images, the knowledge that our photographs would all go into a publicly accessible book, in my opinion, elevated the conversation.
The students did a great job, many of them with little experience in making photos within tightly focused thematic or conceptual parameters, as well as working against a serious deadline. I think the results seen in the book speak for themselves.
I have been asked to teach the class again in the spring semester. So, anyone interested, keep an eye on the ICP class catalogue for further information (ICP School). I’ll post something here as well.