An Introduction to Photography

This introductory level course examines central themes and debates in photographic theory, analysing the impact of visual images within social and political contexts. A range of critical approaches to photography will be discussed with examples being drawn from historical, contemporary and iconic images as well as photographs from the Do Not Refreeze exhibition.

Beginners’ Level – no prior knowledge necessary

Led by Dave Penny, MMU and The University of Chester and Jess Mayo, MMU.

£60 full / £45 concs.

Wed 2 May
Introduction to the Course & The Birth of Photography
Following a brief explanation of the content of the 8 week course, we will begin with a discussion about the birth of photography – how photography came to be, early techniques, early perceptions of a magical device able to mechanically capture reality and the Victorian fascination with the real.

Wed 9 May
Photojournalism and Ethics
We shall take a look at the history of magnum photographers and the ethics of the agency within the remit of photojournalism, the choices of the photographers and the social impact of its notorious war photography, examining the boundaries between curiosity, voyeurism, and perception.

Wed 16 May
Digital Manipulation
Critically we will examine the areas in which digital manipulation is used and explore the perceptions and illusions that it can bring. We will evaluate the presence of digital manipulation within our lives and hypothesising the effects that it will endeavour to unfold.


Wed 23 May
Subjective / Objective
Photography’s consideration as an art form has been widely debated since its beginnings. This session will look at how an image recorded by a machine with arguably a lack of creative input can be considered as a subjective document. Artists to consider will be Becher & Becher – Industrial Typologies, The group f64.

Wed 30 May
Trip to Photography Exhibition – Venue to be Confirmed

Wed 6 June
Contemporary Colour Documentary
This session will look at the way in which contemporary colour documentary photography has been prominent within our society over the last 30 years and how such artists as Richard Billingham, Nan Goldin, Martin Parr and others have shaped many shifts in our own perceptions and beliefs, giving us a “fly on the wall” culture.

Wed 13 June
Landscape Photography
This session will investigate landscape photography looking at the traditions of artistic approaches in attempting to capture the beauty of nature and the social and political connotations of landscape. New directions in contemporary landscape photography will be considered. This seemingly straightforward photographic genre will be analysed in its geological, biological and socio-political implications. Artists: Timothy O’Sullivan, Andreas Gursky, Dan Holdsworth, Olafur Elliason.

Wed 20 June
Concept-based Photography
How can a still image convey complex philosophical ideas? Historically conceptual artists have avoided using photography as a means to present their art, simply regarding the medium as an instrument to record ideas. Here we look at a few contemporary artists explicitly using light sensitive materials to discuss concepts of space and time and the elemental properties that in fact characterise photography. Artists and works: Hiroshi Sugimoto – Portraits, Time Exposed (Seascapes), Doug and Mike Starn – Attracted to Light.