Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism
About the Program
The Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism program focuses specifically on the investigative skills and technical knowledge necessary for students to advance in the complex and constantly changing world of visual storytelling. ICP’s long-standing commitment to documentary practice ensures that this program engages faculty who are some of the foremost practitioners in the field today. Visiting photographers discuss best practices, methodologies, and innovative media, as well as political, ethical, and social concerns.
The student-centered curriculum emphasizes class discussions and critiques in a supportive learning atmosphere. Participants explore the history of visual journalism; develop new and challenging technical skills in still photography, multimedia, and video; learn strategies for publication; and create long-term documentary projects that examine the human experience.
The Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism program provides intermediate to advanced students with an intensive yearlong course of study that strengthens personal vision, teaches professional practices, and explores the many disciplines that inform media and art today. During the first term, many assignments are given to help students move out of their comfort zones and quickly acquire new skills and perspectives; in the winter term, our approach shifts to encourage more self-directed, independent work; and in the spring term, as students’ main projects are solidified and completed, internships and assistance with presentation lead up to the year-end exhibition, a day of portfolio reviews with leading professionals, and graduation.
The academic year is divided into three terms, with an optional intersession in January. Each term, students register for four to five 10-week courses and three to four weekend workshops. Students should expect to spend 18–20 hours in the classroom weekly and to allow ample extra time for shooting, production, and the completion of assignments.
Course requirements for the academic year include three terms of the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism Seminar, three terms of technical instruction in digital workflow, and one term of photographic history. Lighting and some history of analogue printing are required and highly recommended to complete before entrance in the fall. Students select additional 10-week courses and weekend workshops each term. These creative and technical offerings allow students to shape a sequence of instruction that will strengthen their practice. The Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism program also offers students the opportunity to participate in an internship with a photographer, agency, magazine, or newspaper.