Use the Creative Commons to nurture photojournalists
Photographer Jonathan Worth, a National Teaching Fellow and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Commerce, describes his photography program and a new open course of learning from World Press Photo
I’m a photographer, and I teach a photography class called Phonar. I'm from the generation that made photographs on film, for transfer to paper, whereas the students I teach make pictures out of pixels for screens. These screens come with speakers, which means we have to learn about sound, which is okay. Throw into the mix, though, the fact that screens want to play movies, not stills, and things get more hectic.
Surely that means I should be teaching movie-making, right? As all this is no longer something restricted to a few highly-trained pros, we also have to work out just what it is that we photographers do that's different to what every cellphone owner does.
In 2009, when my undergrad class started, I just didn’t know. So I opened it out online, for free, and open-sourced the problem.
The latest iteration just finished up. Every version has had stuff to take away, about photography or teaching or learning online versus learning onsite. But this time it was something bigger.
This time, the most interesting piece of work didn’t come from someone in the room. (Sure, there was awesome work from my paying students, who kick all kinds of ass). Instead, something came in after the classes finished, and it blew me away. It was from a young woman called Priyanka Ghetia, who hoped one day to attend university. She’d been doing the Web versions of Phonar quietly, on her own, either drawing on her schoolteacher for help or teaching herself. She’d used her phone to make sound recordings; her old camera; and even a torch when light was short.
What she’d made just stopped me in my tracks.
Now, that’s very cool. It turns out that by running my classes in this open model, I’m more likely to get awesome students apply to study with me, after becoming part our ‘storytelling’ conversation. It means people who might not otherwise have got involved, for whatever reason—money, geography, culture, age—can join. The dialogue can bloom.
Its already bloomed to the point where we’ve had up to 35,000 join over one ten-week iteration of the course: a big "chat"! But what about moving beyond a university classroom of 25? What about applying the same open and connected approach to say, the most prestigious Photojournalism Award in the World? And what if the starting point wasn’t 25 photographers, but instead was their 10 million-strong community?
That’s what I asked Maarten Koets, Deputy Director of World Press Photo. He took a moment to think about it, then decided that you can change the world with that sort of thing. #Boom
Six months (and a massive amount of behind-the-scenes work) later, anyone can “attend” the World Press Photo Academy.
You can’t rock up to the onsite classes taking place in north Africa (those places have gone to photojournalists from the region, who won a competition to attend), but you can take the same workshops, listen to the same interviews, and submit work to the same briefs. You just need to bring your own chairs to the Facebook page.
Here's the kicker. If you’re a teacher, you can pick up Creative Commons Licensed teaching materials (which are naturally authored by the most acclaimed figures in the multi-media industry) and relay them to your own classes, wherever they may be.
This means that a teacher in Nairobi, the Netherlands or Newport Beach can plant her class right in the middle of what was, until now, one of the most exclusive networks of industry experts, and enable her students and become a part of their conversations.
Also, importantly, this is a storytelling class with images and sound. So we're not only teaching people to speak clearly, but putting them in a situation where they stand a better chance of being heard. That’s something that traditional learning institutions don't really do.
I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if the most interesting, successful and winning work submitted to this first connected learning World Press Photo Academy came from someone who won a place in the onsite class, or even a professional tagging along for the ride. But watch out for something awesome, made by someone using something like a mobile phone and a torch.
How to join.
Jonathan Worth is an English editorial portrait photographer who never won a World Press Award. He did write the world’s first Open and Connected Undergraduate Photography courses though (picbod and phonar) and that made him a National Teaching Fellow and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Commerce, so he’s not bitter.
Photo credits: Banner: Abdella Azizi , 2-4: Eefje Ludwig, 5: Screengrab from Inas Gohar (in the picture we see Mosa'ab Elshamy on assigment), 6: Eefje Ludwig, 7: Rebecca Simons, 8:Virginie Nguyen Hoang.
Swiss artists Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger recreated iconic photos from history in miniature, from cardboard, cotton wool, and other craft supplies. Above, “Making of AS11-40-5878 by Edwin Aldrin, 1969, 2014.” “Making of Nessie by Marmaduke Wetherell, 1934, 2013”: “Making of Concorde by Toshihko Sato, 2000, 2013”: “Making of Tiananmen by Stuart Franklin, 1989, 2013”: […]
Bonnie Block won the grand prize in the 2016 Audubon Society Photography Awards for her magnificent photo above of a Bald Eagle and a Great Blue Heron in Seabeck, Washington. The two predators are known to fight over prey, with the Eagles usually winning. Below, an intense photo that the contest’s “youth winner,” Carolina Anne […]
Charles Gatewood, a pioneering photographer of the underground for nearly 50 years, died today from injuries sustained in a fall from his third-floor balcony. He was 74. From documenting the Beats and the dark alleys of 1970s Mardi Gras to extreme body modification practitioners and sexual fetishists, Charles lived his life as a curious, open-minded […]
3D printing has been one of those “next big thing” innovations among early adopters and the tech circle in-crowd for a few years now. However, the prospect of creating your own three-dimensional objects is still in its relative infancy with the general public. While the idea itself is fascinating to most, high prices and the […]
White hat hackers get paid to find holes in their own employers’ online systems, and plug those holes before they become serious security risks. It’s a job that pays handsomely…mostly because few job candidates, even experienced IT professionals, have the skills to scamper over firewalls and infiltrate the deepest recesses of a battle-tested network. But […]
Why buy one of those expensive and confusing universal remotes, clogged with enough buttons to launch a space shuttle, when you could accomplish the same electronic control right on your favorite mobile device? The Blumoo Universal Remote, now just $52.99 in the Boing Boing Store, harnesses the audio power of all your household equipment right […]