History of photography

You will research the FSA online photo collection through the Library of Congress website and write a 2 to 3 complete
or full page essay about one photographer and one photograph from the collections listed below. This means your paper
must be AT LEAST two pages long, not including your header. The purpose of this assignment is to help you become
familiar with the collection of FSA photographs at the Library of Congress. Because of the incredible number of
photographs in this collection, we will limit the field by directing our attention to one tiny branch of the collection, but
please feel free to explore the entire collection when you have time. It is one of the most incredible photographic
resources you will ever find.
To start this assignment, go to: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/fsa/background.html
Read this page to become familiar with the collection.
Then go to: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/fsa/documentingamerica.html
Where you will see the following series:
Ben Shahn 1 C O T T O N P I C K E R S
John Vachon 2 O M A H A
Dorothea Lange 3 M I G R A N T W O R K E R S
Walker Evans 4 N E W Y O R K C I T Y B L O C K
Arthur Rothstein 5 T E N A N T F A R M E R S
Arthur Rothstein 6 F S A M I G R A T O R Y L A B O R C A M P
Gordon Parks 7 E L L A W A T S O N, U. S. G O V E R N M E N T
1. Browse all seven collections, then choose one of the seven collections listed by photographer’s
2. Read the article that describes this collection of photographs.
3. Select one photograph from the collection and print a copy of it to bring to class along with
your essay.
If the title of the photograph, photographer’s name, and Library of Congress call number is not
printed on your photograph, hand-write this information directly on your photograph.
4. Answer the following questions as they relate to the photographer and photograph that you
a. State the name of the photographer, collection, and title of the photograph you selected.
b. Provide a formal description of the image in several paragraphs (describe it to me as if you were describing it to me
on the phone.) Consider subject matter, medium, photographer’s style, and how the picture is formally arranged. Refer
back to Barrett’s chapter 2 on description if you have questions (this is on Blackboard). Remember: PLEASE write this
description ENTIRELY in your own words. If you have factual information about the photograph that you learned from
the Library of Congress website that you would like to include, list these facts at either the beginning or end of the
description. Most of the description should be in your own words!
c. Then provide an interpretation of the image. Although you may find interpretations of images on the Internet, I am
most interested in YOUR OWN interpretation of the image. I would like to hear about the meaning that you ascribe to
the image and your thoughts about the photographs meaning, rather than what another author has said about them.
Remember to review Barrett’s definitions of description and interpretation (see Blackboard for Barrett chapters 2 and 3).
Base your analysis on Barrett’s definitions. Ask me if you need any clarification.
To interpret is to account for all the described aspects of a photograph and to posit meaningful relationships
between the aspects.
5. Tell me in several paragraphs how this photograph relates to the other photographs in the collection
you selected. What makes this photograph more interesting to you than the others?
6. How does this photograph relate to the FSA project as a whole?

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