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Documentary Photojournalism
Producing social justice stories for the media

Instructor: Brian Frank
6:30 – 9:00 pm Eastern via Zoom
Class begins October 14, 2020

Eight Wednesdays (Skips November 25)
Course fee: $560
One scholarship position available

Limited to ten students

Photo by Brian Frank

Photo by Brian Frank. From “Mothers & Sisters”. Pamela Hernadez and Kathleen Salinas sit together in the exercise yard of their high-level cell block at Las Colinas correctional facility in San Diego, CA.

Class Description

This online course will explore many of the intricacies involved with creating visual documentary narratives about social justice issues and navigating the professional photography landscape. The course will delve not only into long-form storytelling but also documentary assignment work, daily news assignment work, photographic equipment, pitching stories, building and maintaining professional relationships, pitfalls, ethics, representation, and avoiding visual stereotypes.  

Students will be required to share examples of work for group discussion and constructive critique.  There will be a variety of mixed media “readings” that will attempt to expand student’s understanding of the historic importance of visual narratives and inspire them to challenge themselves and grow their practices.  

Course will begin with discussions on general practices. We will explore use of light to create mood and enhance stories, appropriate equipment for different styles of documentary practice, and navigating workflow to meet deadlines. Practical steps to building professional networks that support economic, communal, and mental well-being will be a priority as well as how to safely navigate challenging environments. Students will present examples of their documentary work to the class while the group will providing evolving critiques that spur the growth of student projects and abilities.      

The realities of the rapidly changing media environment and how to diversify your skillset to maintain a sustainable business in photojournalism will be explored.  This will include discussion of the many different options for revenue including assignment work, grants, stock royalty and re-sales, art and print sales, events, and education.  

The goal of the workshop is, upon completion, all students will either have a working portfolio or be on the path to building one and have a grasp of the next steps to further their documentary practices.  

Brian Frank

Brian FrankA native of San Francisco, Brian Frank has worked on social documentary projects across the Americas focusing on cultural identity, social inequality, violence, workers rights and the environment.

In 2017, Frank was awarded a fellowship by the Catchlight foundation to continue his work documenting mass incarceration's effects on minority communities. This two-year project, Downstream: Death of the Colorado. is held in the permanent collection of the United States Library of Congress and was recognized by POYi with the Global Vision Award. His project on the drug war and culture of violence in Mexico, La Guerra Mexicana, was awarded the Domestic News Picture Story of the year by the NPPA. Frank’s work has been recognized with numerous other awards from both national and international press organizations.

After completing the Journalism program at San Francisco State University, Fran worked primarily for The Wall Street Journal from 2008-2014 and currently focuses on long-term documentary magazine features in California, the American Southwest, and Mexico.

Frank’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, California Sunday Magazine, Harpers, The Atlantic, GQ, Esquire, Fortune, Mother Jones, Newsweek, TIME, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, Wired, Politico, Virginia Quarterly Review, PDN, American Photo, The Fader, The New York Times, U.S.News & World Report, The San Francisco Chronicle and other publications.


$560 Total
$150 Deposit to confirm registration
$410 Balance due one week prior to first class

You can pay with a major credit card or with PayPal. If you would like to pay by a different method, please contact us at info@socialdocumentary.net.



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