Documenting The Personal & The Familiar

6 sessions / 2.5 hours per session

Photography’s ability to record our experiences is a powerful tool, but how do we take the joys and challenges of capturing moments and turn them into a compelling visual story? How do photographers go about building a body of work, a coherent portfolio, an essay, a story? How do we move beyond a good photo to one that speaks to the audience?

This workshop covers the practical components of documentary photography while developing the photographer’s vision. We begin with an exploration of works by photographers who have explored themes personal to them, focusing on their communities or their own family. We will look at the work and diverse approaches of photographers such as Sally Mann, Joseph Rodriguez and Rinko Kawauchi.

Participants will learn how to ‘see’ documentary possibilities within their own lives, their own communities and their own families, undertaking topics of their choice. We will also look on how to approach projects and engage with communities in a sincere and personal way.

The instructor will guide participants on developing and executing story ideas through a mixture of lectures, discussion and group critiques. Issues of dealing with shooting under pressure, approaching subjects, journalistic and documentary ethics, the line between art and documentary and project presentation will also be discussed.

Throughout the course, participants will work towards creating a body of work that tells a story through narrative, emotion, style and substance.


Introduction: Telling a Story
• Works by documentary photographers
• Documenting family
• “Seeing” documentary possibilities
• Developing your photo story
Getting To Know Your Subjects
• Pitching story ideas
• Research and gaining access
• Understanding your subject
Single Images
• The establishing shot
• Point pictures vs series
• Project review
Getting Closer
• The little things – details
• Images and text
• Project review
Is Your Story Complete?
• Is this a cohesive package? Looking critically
• Editing a series
• Project review
Wrap Up
• Final slideshow
• Ethics in documentary

Workshop fee:



Participants need a DSLR, or a prosumer digital camera like the mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera (MILC) for this workshop. Basic Photography proficiency is required


26 Oct to 30 Nov 2017

Tom White (View Profile)


#1 26 Oct, Thur, 7.30pm – 10pm
#2 2 Nov, Thur, 7.30pm – 10pm
#3 9 Nov, Thur, 7.30pm – 10pm
#4 16 Nov, Thur, 7.30pm – 10pm
#5 23 Nov, Thur, 7.30pm – 10pm
#6 30 Nov, Thur, 7.30pm – 10pm

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