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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Photojournalism: On Location in Rome"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Federica Valabrega
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: M9:00 AM 11:45 AM

This is a course in basic photojournalism on location. There will be both classroom sessions and classes off campus, held on location in Rome and the surrounding area, as well as visits to photographic exhibitions. Students will gain an understanding of the basic concepts of photography and photojournalism; how cameras and lenses work; image composition; lighting conditions and techniques; shooting on location; techniques for working as a photographer; editing and producing photographs; and building a portfolio of images. Class sessions will cover learning use of a camera, lights, composition, color, documentary and candid photographic techniques, photographic software such as Adobe Photoshop, and critiques. Classes on location include practical fieldwork.

This course is meant for students who wish to deepen their knowledge of Photojournalism, but also the ideas behind taking photographs. It will review basic camera functions and introduce methods of the elaboration of photos on the computer. The course is hands-on and will include picture- taking in a variety of genres and the preparation of a photo essay to be shown in an exhibition and/or a photo portfolio to be presented to a possible Internship or job opportunities.


This is a course in basic photojournalism on location and digital imaging, composed of 14 sessions (each being 2,45 hours long), divided in two main parts:


- Theoretical and technical: the basic principles of photography, visualizing the photo, lighting techniques and digital workflow. How to develop your idea, understanding what an interesting subject for you is and crafting your photographic style.


- Practical: including fieldworks where you will be applying what you’ve learned in the theory lessons. This part will also include a variety of skills to be able to edit and retouch selected images for a final project/exhibition.


Course Requirements

  • Digital single lens reflex (DSLR) or mirrorless camera with manual adjustments of f-stop and shutter speed
  • SD memory card(s) 8GB+ 

·       Learn how to operate a digital camera properly.

·       Learn what digital photography is and the history behind it.

·       Learn to photograph is divers lighting conditions: natural and artificial ones.

·       Develop the practical and intellectual skills to make a personal photographic essay selecting the best          images within the semester.

·       Develop analytical skills to critique each other’s work constructively.


Mid-term ExamAn in-class critique of pitch and images to produce a newsworthy story.20%
Final PresentationStudents are expected to be shooting an average of 20 images per week to produce at least 10 new images to show per critique. The final presentation consists of editing the work over the course of the semester in digital & printed form and should reflect an understanding of newsworthy topic from class lesson and suggestions from the teacher and your peers from in-class critiques. Also, a news story pitch will have to be delivered with the final image selections. 30%
Proficiency & ParticipationIncludes technical proficiency both in camera and with editing software, in-class participation, and improvement of photographic and news vocabulary. Students should show teacher a digital contact sheets of all new images made for review and prepare news pitch weekly to support their story project with hard facts they researched.50%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Week 1 - First day of class: Introduction: What is photojournalism, how do you do the job, what makes something newsworthy. Overview of syllabus, requirements, expectations, and review of students’ equipment. Grade policy discussion.

Week 2 - The basic principles of photography I: basic camera controls, set-ups (please review your manual prior to class). Small intro to Hard and soft news photography.Getting inspired by looking at professional photographers’ work. Weekly assignment began today.


Week 3 -The basic principles of photography II. The basics of composition, framing the subject, geometrical design elements, rule of thirds. The ethics of Photojournalism how to tell a neutral story without a slanted angle. Framing images objectively exercise at home .


Week 4 –Introduction on the history of the great photojournalists that came before us. The digital workflow I. Data capture, file management, basic corrections in Lightroom: how to create your own photography catalogue (contact sheet).


Week 5 -The digital workflow II. Non-destructive image processing, working with RAW files, histograms, masks, dodging and burning. Fieldwork assignment all together outside of class.


Week 6 -The basic principles of photography III. How to see and understand light. Learn how to take advantage of all lighting condition while taking photos. The difference of color and black and white images and why we choose one instead than the other in a news story.Lighting assignment at home.


Week 7 -The basic principles of photography IV. What makes a collection of images a photo essay and how do we sequence images to tell a strong news story. In class editing and sequencing of images in a short story with a strong lede in preparation of Mid-Term Critique. At home assignment: tell a story in 5 images.


Session 8 -Mid-Term Critique: Analysis and screening of students’ photo stories and news pitch to complete them. At home assignment TBA.


Week 9 -The digital workflow III. In class editing, retouching, and resizing of images taken at home the prior weeks and preparing them for print. What is the right amount of manipulation to keep your images newsworthy and ethically correct. Fieldwork assignment on portraiture all together outside of class.


Week 10 -The digital workflow IV. Laser ink-jet printing in class. Beginning to develop collectively a coherent sequence for the Final Project/Exhibit.


Week 11 -Fieldwork assignment all together in the light studio adjacent to class. The basic principles of photography V. Lesson on what a news story pitch it and how to write one. Write your own story pitch at home.


Week 12 - Review explanatory news story pitches in class. Revising subject and previous images for the final project and work on titling the new story and writing two paragraphs presenting it to possible editors. Work on the final presenting email, pitch and image PDF at home.


Session 13 - The basic principles of photography VI. The future of photojournalism. What are the possible outcomes for student who want to enter a career in photojournalism nowadays. Assignment at home search for your favorite news outlet and present it in class.


Week 14 -The basic principles of photography VII Talk about the difference between feature vs. breaking news outlets, how to reach out to them, presentation your work to the publication and be published.


Week 15 -Session Completion of the final project. Presentation and review of students’ photographic projects. Critically evaluate the work presented by fellow students.