Hidalgo, Spring 2023

Developing a Critical Practice in Photojournalism

Photo by Sebastián Hidalgo

Stuck on one side of the tracks as a freight train sits idle on the border between Dolton and Riverdale, a young man risks life and limb as he quickly dashes between two cargo containers to get to the other side. Stopped freight trains near Dolton create physical barriers that restrict residents across the south suburbs. Former Dolton Mayor Norman MacKay asked Congress 45 years ago to help fund an overpass to relieve the traffic congestion, but nothing was built. Photo by Sebastián Hidalgo in collaboration with Better Government Association and WBEZ - Chicago

Instructor: Sebastián Hidalgo
6:30–9:00 pm Eastern via Zoom
Eight Thursdays, Beginning March 9
Course type: Shooting, critique, and discussion
Level: All levels are encouraged to enroll

Course fee: $700

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Option to pay 25% deposit now with balance due one week before course starts.
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Class Description

Today, as the news cycle leans towards content driven stories, learning a civic approach to photography has never been more important. What can photographers learn by being civically engaged practitioners? 

In this studio-style class, we begin with discussing how early photographers of the Workers-Photography Movement utilized engagement methods to document labor and human rights issues in Europe, the United States, and Mexico and pair the lessons to more contemporary practices. We will learn how to foster engagement by: 

  1. Understanding what data can and can’t tell us about the emotional, social, cultural, and systemic state of communities 
  2. Learn how to read photography 
  3. Develop mind maps that allows us the space to think creatively about what, who, where, why, and how photography is made in a new way 
  4. Drafting ready-to-go emotional/informative/accountability questions that can be utilized in any aspect of journalistic process from breaking news to longform visual storytelling

Participants will then transition into learning engagement techniques. We will work to personalize your craft by practicing mindfulness and generosity––a vital element to a work that constantly puts us in frontlines of any newscycle. Practitioners will self assess their fears and write past them, among other tools. So along with your camera, bring a notebook and pen! 

This class harbors an environment where we can explore and push your creative capacity through breakout groups discussions and extra time with your instructor. There is no homework, instead each participant will assign themselves homework and your instructor will hold you to it mimicking an editor-photographer relationship. 

It is suited for (any skill level) photographers interested in an alternative method to journalism. By the end of the class, you will have developed necessary skills to maneuver some of your pressing questions differently, be more people-focused, and start the process to create more fulfilling work. Participants are highly encouraged to bring their own work and ideas to this class.

Sebastián Hidalgo

Sebastián HidalgoSebastián Hidalgo is an independent photojournalist and National Geographic Explorer, trained by civic newsrooms across Chicago. He has reported on issues ranging from the secret lives of teen workers in warehouses to the lasting psychological effects of gentrification for ProPublica, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. Through photography, video, and civic-oriented approach to journalism, he examines how political traumas affect local communities, everywhere. His work has been hailed by Gannett for “setting the example for local reporting” while his images in Chicago have been permanently collected at The Library of Congress, The National Museum of Mexican Fine Art, the Harvard Art Museum. 

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