ART 261 and 361 – Intermediate and Advanced Topics in Photography

2024 Spring
Pradip Malde
+1.931.598.1537, Wiggins 101
class site: https://classes.sewanee.edu/261
appointments and office hours: https://classes.sewanee.edu/malde/contact/

Course Description

ART 261 and 361 Topics in Photography
This course establishes thematic project-based approaches in photography using film-based and digital methods. Class projects and discussions center around the cultural and socio-political impact of the medium, as well the deeply personal and expressive aspects of photographic art.

Please expect to put in about 10-12 hours of time each week doing coursework outside of class meetings. Akin to science lab classes, this coursework will mostly be carried out in the photography labs.

The photograph is considered in terms not only of what it is of and about, but also what it is, as an object, as a primary mark. This approach requires a mannered and well-considered methodology, one that is in keeping with many ‘slow’ movements, as in gastronomic circles for instance. Thus, students work with wet-lab technologies and materials, with particular attention to the film-based 35mm to large format cameras and silver-gelatin and non-traditional printing methods such as platinum-palladium.

Studio demonstrations and practice are designed to establish a firm technical foundation, while projects, lectures, and critique-based discussion explore the ways by which the creative and expressive impulse may symbolize a broader realm of human experience; “the cosmos in miniature” as poet Stanley Kunitz put it.

There is an important but nuanced relationship between our means of expression and our realms of experience; it can task the maker as a revealer, or render the revealed as a reflection, the mirror as a window, and so on. Throughout, the course uses photography as a primary tool for investigating these ideas. There is particular stress on how resolution, via the film-based negative and the highly nuanced tonalities of the print, affects meaning and expression. The course also refers to a broad range of philosophical, art historical, literary, anthropological, and scientific approaches via the close reading of photographic works. The course will rely heavily on student-led discussions and there will be supplementary lectures by guest speakers. When programming and conditions permit, students are asked to attend screenings, exhibitions, and lectures.

Class assignments are designed to consolidate fundamental photographic skills while deepening an understanding of lens-based visual communication. In doing so, students build on core practical and conceptual frameworks through wet and digital photographic practice, readings, discussions, and viewing visual material. Consequently, photographic literacy will provide a critical and expressive basis for their broader academic endeavors. Students will be given between one and six weeks to work on each assignment. Each assignment culminates in a critique-based discussion while identifying possibilities for future work.

Course Goals

Students successfully completing ART 261 will:

Have a deep familiarity with the fundamental techniques of photography
Understand the syntax of photographic communication
Be able to communicate non-visual experience through lens-based visual means
Be able to think and write critically about the photographic image
Consider the impact of photography on culture
Acquire an optical and chemical understanding of photography
Become familiar with historic and contemporary photographic art and theory
Be aware of some of the key points of the particular aesthetics of photography
Build a body of original photographic work

Students successfully completing ART 361 will:

Consolidate the advanced techniques of photography
Understand the syntax of photographic communication
Eloquently communicate non-visual experience through lens-based visual means
Write critically about a body of photographic work and its impact on culture
Be thoroughly familiar with historic and contemporary photographic art and theory
Articulate the aesthetics of photography
Build a body of original photographic work

Recommended Texts

Henry Horenstein, Black & White Photography: a basic manual, 3rd ed., Little, Brown and Company
Pradip Malde, Mike Ware, Platinotype: Making Photographs in Platinum and Palladium with the Contemporary Printing-out Process, Routledge, 2021

and the following monographs

Alicia Bruce, “I Burn But I Am Not Consumer”
Charles Harbutt, “Departures”
Jessica Hays, “The Sun Sets at Mid-afternoon”
Jesse Lenz, “The Seraphim”
Pradip Malde, “From Where Loss Comes”
David Williams, “Dreaming Difference”

Equipment and Supplies

All the reference texts, equipment, and supplies will be provided as a part of the course pack. This is included in the course lab fee.


This is a studio course and requires students to be able to access and work in specialized photographic facilities in the Wiggins Art Building, which is fully ADA compliant. Frequent or extensive absences from campus, or distance-learning, will severely compromise a student’s ability to meet the course goals.

Assignments and submitting work

An assignment is due by the start of class, 1:30 PM, of the noted week.

Assignment due dates are designed to build skills in a sequential manner and bring the class to a collective reflection and feedback on work. It is important that these deadlines are followed. Missed deadlines will affect subsequent assignments, and feedback for past-due work will be limited, and will not receive a full critique from the instructor. Any assignment submitted on time may be reworked and resubmitted for assessment up to the last day of classes. Note that the last day for submitting assigned work is the last day of classes.

Please read other policies for this course.