Seeing Through Photographs

14 April 2017

Region: London

Distance learning is always fun – study in your own time, from the comfort of your armchair, with a cup of tea or a glass of something to hand, and set your own pace.  With the advent of on-line courses, distance learning has come a long way from the days when the Open University broadcast at unspeakable hours.  It was tough if you didn’t have a video recorder – setting the alarm for three in the morning, waking from a deep slumber and then trying to stay awake to take notes before collapsing back into bed an hour later.

These days, it’s all very different with courses using sophisticated technology to offer lectures via webinars and podcasts as well as the more conventional slide-shows, downloadable reading, tests, quizzes and peer review.  The array of subjects on offer has broadened markedly too and there really is something for everyone.  Some are career oriented (such as this one on journalism) whereas others are for pleasure (if you have a mathematical bent, this one on cryptarithms sounds fun). 

For those looking to improve their photography skills, there is our very own course in conjunction with the Open University, which is open now for registrations for the October session.  Those who followed Ilya’s blog will know that not only did she enjoy it, but found it invaluable in helping her prepare for her Licentiateship.

Over the past year, I’ve dabbled in screenwriting, antiquities trafficking (prevention, I hasten to add, not ‘how to’) and I’m just concluding a course on understanding contemporary art.  But one of the best I’ve completed is ‘Seeing Through Photographs’, a six week course run by the Museum of Modern Art.  It is designed to  ‘help build skills in looking critically at photographs’ and uses many of the images in MoMA’s collection to underpin the learning objectives.  After the introduction in the first week, we moved on to looking at one subject (the moon) from different perspectives, including Moonrise by Ansel Adams and photography at NASA.  Week three introduced us to documentary photography, week four looked at people and how our assumptions are often the result of choices made by the photographer, whilst week five showed the importance of photography in creating a narrative.  The course concluded with an investigation into photography and contemporary culture.

I thoroughly enjoyed this course with its wide range of genres and photographers, many of whom are the great and iconic names, but some of whom I hadn’t heard of.  It was a delight to encounter their work.

It runs quite frequently and the next start date is Monday 17th April, but once you’ve enrolled, you can access the course materials straightaway.  And if you can’t finish within the deadlines, you can just transfer to the next course.

As well as the compulsory reading, there is a lot of optional reading offered and to get the most out of the course, it’s worth studying it properly, so I would allow plenty of time to enjoy it.

For further details and registration, visit the Coursera website here