Photography from Isolation to Communication

An online program of lectures from world-class experts. Featuring Elinor Carucci, Ben Gest and David Campany
Mar 30, 2020
An online program of lectures from world-class experts. Featuring Elinor Carucci, Ben Gest and David Campany

Around the world, we are all under very tight parameters.  Our movements and interactions are limited. What can be done with photography under such restrictions? Creative work always needs parameters. They help us to reconsider and reinvent. Isolation can also be a time for reflection, reviewing work we have made, and shaping it into something meaningful.

Photography from Isolation to Communication is a series of online 60-minute lectures that demonstrate and discuss in detail what can be done with photography in our present restrictions. 

Photographers Elinor Carucci and Ben Gest, and writer, curator, and editor David Campany, will offer insights into their work practices, each offering a series of three one-hour lectures. The series is structured to help you develop new photographic ideas or work with your existing images, and to shape them into projects that can be made public. 

All lectures are scheduled to take place from 1 to 2 PM EST. Tickets are $35 for general audience and $30 for ICP members and give access to each speaker's series of three lectures.

These lecture series will be offered virtually via Zoom. You will receive a link to join the course prior to the class time. Note: the Zoom app is recommended for participation in the program. Learn how to download the latest version of Zoom to your computer or mobile device. 

Contact the Education office at 212.857.0001 or [email protected] with any questions or concerns. All sales are final and no refunds will be given. 

Elinor Carucci

April 8–10 

Session 1.  Photographing Your Own Life; Bringing Your Work into Your Personal Sphere (April 8)

Even in normal times, many artists find that their best work is inspired by their personal spaces. By photographing the people and places with whom they are intimately acquainted, they are able to communicate a more profound level of understanding of both personal and universal subjects.   

In this session, Carucci talks about her personal work and about ways of finding and addressing different themes in the microcosm of our own little personal universe. She addresses ways of applying this method of working and how it can be expanded to include many aspects, subjects and aesthetics, to encourage new and continuation of the participants’ projects.

Session 2. Photographing on Assignment During COVID-19: Turning Your Personal Life into an Editorial Assignment (April 9)

This session deals with ways in which we can better use our personal vision and style as well as what is around us these days, in order to apply it to shooting on assignments for magazines. Carucci talks about finding what is unique and special about each personal life, culture, habits, appearance, family members, what can we offer that will be interesting for magazines or publications in these unusual times. She encourages participants to think about the specific elements of their lives that they have access to and can share, and that will be relevant for a magazine story. Carucci will discuss recent post-Corona assignments she has been working on and the potential to shoot a relevant story from our current environment and situation.

Session 3. A Photo Shoot with Elinor Carucci (April 10)

Through home videos created especially for this session, participants get to peek into Elinor Carucci’s very personal process, for the first time ever. Students are invited to watch the photo sessions and learn how Carucci photographs life and her family. This will be followed by a live question and answer discussion about the concepts, dynamics, and technical aspects of photographing yourself, your family, and life—every question is welcome!

Note: Any format of photographing is welcome and encouraged, including smartphone cameras.

David Campany 

April 15–17

Session 1. Collaboration in Isolation (April 15)

Collaboration in isolation is possible. In fact, it has been happening for a long time. In 1863 Oliver Wendell Holmes imagined two photographers on different continents exchanging images and coming to know each other. Today’s social media would not surprise him. 

Most photographs are made by individuals, but most outcomes of photography – books, magazine articles, exhibitions, and websites are the result of collaboration. Few of us have expertise in all the necessary departments. These isolated times are actually great opportunity to think about collaboration at a distance. From social media projects to long distance exchanges of ideas, in this lecture David Campany looks closely at what photographers do alone, and how they can work with others at a distance. 

Session 2. Photobook Editing (April 16)

Making photographs is the easy part. Then comes the editing, the shaping of a body of work. It needs calm thought, clarity of purpose and, yes, isolation. Our present restrictions may well give you a little of the downtime needed to edit your work successfully. As an editor, Campany has the trust of many great photographers, and each book project he works on is different. Sometime it’s collaborative, sometimes he works alone. In this lecture, Campany unpacks the different methods he has used in editing books for publication.

Session 3. The Photographer-Writer (April 17)

Put simply, a photographer who writes can achieve more than a photographer who does not. In our visual culture words are never very far from photographs. They can enrich, expand, explain and extend our communication, and our appreciation. Since the beginnings of the medium, there have been remarkable photographer-writers: WHF Talbot, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Walker Evans, Berenice Abbott, Martha Rosler, Jeff Wall, LaToya Ruby Frazier—the list is long and illustrious.

In this lecture, David Campany takes you through the detail of image-text interaction. He will draw on key examples that have informed his own diverse work as a respected writer on photography, and explain the key aspects of his own writing process.

Ben Gest

April 22–24

Session 1. Decision in the Digital Darkroom (April 22)

Students explore the process of decision making in a digital darkroom and how integral those choices are the creation of meaning in a photograph. Ben Gest will discuss the set of decisions he made in the creation of one of his own photographs from start to finish.  The class will look at how post-processing decisions help create the end product and consider the process by which meaningful choices are made. 

Session 2. Toward the Final Image (April 23)

In this presentation, Ben Gest  will discuss how the use of the computer allows for a rethinking of the photographic space.  He will look at painting and consider how the way photographers manage spatial constraints could be informed by solutions embedded in paintings of the past. 

Session 3. The Impossible Portrait (April 24)

In this presentation, Ben Gest asks how the necessity of the photographer to be physically present in the making of a photograph disrupts any sense of “aloneness” that could be conveyed by the subject.  Successfully removing the presence of the photographer is inherently contradictory to very nature of the medium.  How can a photographer subvert this ‘constraint’ and in doing so challenge the very nature of the medium relationship to indexing of the world?


Artist Elinor Carucci was born in Jerusalem in 1971. Her work has been included in many solo and group exhibitions worldwide, and appeared in publications internationally. Her work is in the collections of MoMA, the Jewish Museum, the Brooklyn Museum and many others. She was awarded the ICP Infinity Award in 2001, The Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002 and NYFA in 2010.  Carucci has published four monographs to date, CloserDiary of a dancer, Mother, and most recently Midlife. Carucci currently teaches at the graduate program of photography at School of Visual Arts and is represented by Edwynn Houk Gallery.

Image: David Campany, head portrait by Sam Contis

David Campany is ICP’s new Managing Director of Programs, and a writer, editor, and curator. Using recent projects as case studies, Campany will take you through various aspects of his work.


Ben Gest is the Associate Chair of Part-Time Programs at ICP and has taught at top schools and universities around the country. His photography has been exhibited and collected internationally and is in the permanent collection of various museums. Gest is based in New York City.