Photography Capstone Project
The Capstone Project is your opportunity to take advantage of the knowledge you have gained through our journey in learning about photography, to develop a meaningful project of 10 well formed photographs based in your passion for artistic expression, or a subject for documentary exploration, insightful portraiture, imaging for work-related subjects, or some other aspect of photography. We are confident that it will be a project that you will be excited to share with fellow Learners, and with Professors Peter Glendinning and Mark Sullivan too! A unique feature of this Course is the individual review and responsive input you will receive directly from Peter or Mark, who will be viewing your pictures and making evaluations of all projects at the end of the Capstone. You should plan on spending more time on this Course per week than any other in this Specialization, and much of it will be in making photographs.
During the entire period of development, you and your fellow learners will be supporting each other as you work independently, by sharing your work-in-progress from the initial Project Plan to the final Portfolio. At each stage, all Learners will share comments and suggestions with each other, helping each other to gauge progress and to learn about different approaches to photography and content. By expressing your own ideas and expectations about quality in response to the work of others, you will be forming your own criteria of excellence as well.
Along the way there will be multiple opportunities for sharing pictures and ideas through carefully designed Peer Review. This sharing of photographs and comments with peers, and reflecting on their comments about your photos, will be an exciting learning experience that will help you grow in understanding your own photography and that of others. Your contribution of comments to fellow Learners will not only help them understand their photographs better, but it will give you an opportunity to use the vocabulary of terms that are related to techniques, design principles, and content approaches that you have learned through your success in each of the previous Modules.
A unique aspect of this Specialization is that everyone who completes the requirements will receive, in addition to their Certificate of Specialization from Michigan State University, access to substantial discounts on equipment, accessories, and membership benefits through Industry Partners from among the premier manufacturers of photography equipment and related items: Fracture, Gary Fong, Gyst, Lensbaby, LensPen, Lume Cube Lighting, Photo District News, PhotoVideoEdu, Think Tank Cases/Bags. In addition, The ‘top-10’ peer-reviewed Capstone projects each year will be awarded the opportunity for individual reviews, with personal responses, by world renowned photographers who have been honored with the title of Canson-Infinity® Paper Ambassadors.
CAPSTONE PROJECT LAUNCH!
The Capstone Project is your opportunity to take advantage of the knowledge you have gained through our journey in learning about photography, to develop a meaningful set of 10 photographs in a final project . Of course, you may well expose hundreds of photographs to get to that final number! This course is where you will combine your passion for a particular content with the skills and knowledge you have developed as a photographer through this Specialization. This is also where you will share your insights with a community of equally passionate photographers through peer review, as they learn from you and you learn from them. Perhaps the project is based in your passion for artistic expression, or for a documentary subject in your community that you feel is worthy of exploration. Maybe you feel moved to create a series of insightful portraits centered on people who are part of a group or of a certain type, or create photographs that are important for your non-photography career (beautiful photos of houses and their details if you are a realtor for example). Whatever the content or subjects, whatever the lighting, exposure, or other techniques used, it begins with an outline, what we call a Project Plan. It goes without saying that all the photographs for this project must be new pictures, created on or after the date of the start of this course. This is not the place for photographs you have created previously, although your new photographs may be related to an area of interest you had before you began this final course. In this first Module you will point your creative compass in a general direction, and with the help of your fellow photographers’ feedback gradually create a more narrow, straight, and true path of photography as the weeks of effort go forward. You’ll learn from Peter and Mark’s mistakes and review a valuable lesson, “Responding to Photographs,” from the past. Of course, you will also begin making photographs in that general direction too! Let’s get started!!!
Learning from others
In this Module, Peter and Mark will comment on projects created by two MSU students and alumni, discussing the strengths they see in form and content to help you begin to form your own judgments as you either agree or disagree with their responses. The process of analyzing one’s own preferences, and then actively agreeing and disagreeing about effective camerawork, composition, and content approaches, are key elements in the growth of any photographer. When we convey our honestly held responses in ways that are helpful, we not only give the photographer whose work we are commenting on greater insight into how their work is perceived, but also help open ourselves to new levels of understanding too. The Photographer’s Statements by those students are also posted for you to consider, as you prepare to form your own in the future. Our Lesson Review of “Making not Taking Photographs,” relates to the purposeful nature of the Capstone Project. In Peer Review, you will help each other gain insights into Project Plans, help each other by making comments and offering suggestions related to the Plans, and share first photographs with each other as well. Remember, the Capstone experience is a Journey, not a Race! If you missed the Reading in Week One, a Fable by Aesop awaits your attention! Take each week for what it is, an opportunity to grow in knowledge, creativity, and photographic technique.
Learning more about critically analyzing
Peter and Mark will review two more MSU student projects to help you understand what they see as markers of success in a body of related photographs. Once again, the students’ Photographer’s Statements are presented as examples of the diversity with which such things may be written. Peter will also discuss the purposes of “critique,” also known as constructive criticism, and strategies for analyzing the works of others. Our Lesson Review in this Module is again from Course Three, entitled “Composition is a “Map,” Balance is Bike Riding.” Finally, you will practice your “critique skills” in a Peer Review exercise. Of course, during this week you will keep photographing to develop your project further.
Mid-Term review time!
At the midway point in this Capstone Course, you will “get over the hump” and continue your progress toward the completion of your photography projects! Peter and Mark will each discuss a project that had “humps” to get over. This is also the week where you will upload a large set of new photographs, ten to be exact, using the Discussion Forum as our “gallery,” and the Peer Review process as a way to share and receive feedback from as many of your fellow photographers as you like. You will not only gain from the perspectives of others, but grow in your abilities to engage the processes of critical thinking and dialogue so necessary to developing your own sense of what makes a photograph a “success.”
Questions and Answers
In your fifth week of the Capstone, you are just beyond the half-way mark but quickly closing in on the time when you will have to upload your final portfolio project. There is still time to make adjustments, to fine tune the course you charted in your original Project Plan. With the feedback you received in the Midterm Review, and the experience of reviewing your peers’ projects, the full meaning of a “project” should be much more clear to you now. This is a perfect time to switch from project planning statements to writing a “Photographer’s Statement” that conveys in words the significance in your pictures, and we will concentrate on that this week.
Inspiration and Perspiration!
As Thomas Edison, the great 20th Century American inventor said, “Creativity is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration,” and you can surely appreciate the meaning of that at this point in the development of your projects! In the last two weeks, you have had the opportunity to share and receive comments on your project’s progress. There are no doubt questions that have been raised in your own mind about the project. There are also answers that you have found valid in regard to your goals. Use this week to create more photographs and to revise your Photographer’s Statement in response to the feedback you have received from Peers. Your Capstone project pictures will be due by the end of next week, the 7th week of this Course 5. You should be making final photographs, fine tuning your Photographer’s Statement, and making final decisions about which 10 pictures will comprise your final project. Be inspired!
Reveal the Capstone Projects!
You have done it! It’s time to share your photographs and statements. Following the process described by Prof. Glendinning in his Lecture, you will use the Week 7 Discussion Forum to post your pictures for others to see and reflect on. After we take this week to post pictures and view those of classmates, you’ll have the opportunity to share comments in Peer Review in Module 8. You’ll also have the opportunity at that later time to make comments directly within this Discussion Forum… but please follow the lecture instructions, and don’t post comments too early here!
Review, Reflect, and Go Beyond!
Well, here we are at the end of one journey together but at the beginning of another! In this final week, you will continue the process of learning by sharing and receiving comments through the Peer Review process. It will not only give you the chance to formally review 9 of your fellow Learners’ projects, but also to make a direct comment to all participants in the Discussion Forum about how your photography will be improved by what you learned from their projects. Going “beyond” is something that you have embraced throughout this Specialization, and both Mark and Peter look forward to doing the same for you. They will be reviewing all Capstone Projects throughout the year, selecting the 10 best for individual reviews by Canson-Infinity Ambassadors, some of the most highly regarded photographers in the world! In addition, you will be receiving an email giving you instructions on how to access the substantial discounts that our Industry Partners have provided. Finally, look for an invitation to the secret Facebook group where you can continue to interact with your peers if you like. In the future, as new groups of Learners complete the Capstone and join the “Alumni” Facebook Group, you will be joined there by other enthusiastic photographers who have also journeyed through Photography Basics and Beyond, to continue sharing together. Peter and Mark are active members of that Facebook group, and we look forward to our future interactions with you there as well. THANKS for all you have done to make this a positive learning experience throughout all 5 courses. We look forward to continuing the journey in photography with you in the future too!
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