Documentary photography course

Course Dates: 16/01/20 - 05/03/20
Time: 18:00 - 21:00
Location: PS - Photography Studio

Intrigued by documentary photography and the stories it can tell? Get immersed in this fascinating visual tradition, exploring its theory and history, the messages it can convey and the impact it can have. Learn about the technical choices involved, debate issues of truth and objectivity, then develop documentary skills yourself, working on short and longer-term projects leading to an exciting and varied portfolio.


What is the course about?

This course introduces the genre of documentary photography, covering its fascinating theory and history and encouraging image analysis and discussions while working towards your own practical documentary project. You will learn about different visual languages in documentary photography and how they convey messages, and consider the issues of objectivity and truth. You will get to understand the impact and potential of documenting the world around us, and delivering this as a story to a public. You will work on short-term and long-term projects, leading to an exciting and varied portfolio of work.

What will we cover?

– Documentary photography and communicating through images: the tradition of the photo-essay; contemporary creative storytelling and new media
– Objective and subjective dimensions of documentary photography
– Technical choices, expressive impact and truth; the language of natural light; compositional choices
– Achieving historical perspectives in documentary photography
– Analysis of contemporary documentary practice
– The social function of documentary, from social reform to campaigning
– Distinguishing in-depth story and the news image
– Practical, ethical and legal issues
– Editing and digital workflows
– Platforms for publishing, exhibiting and showcasing your photographic documentary work.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- achieve better photographs with great expressive value through control of camera settings, composition and lighting
- produce several thoughtful, themed projects that can work as a portfolio
- apply effective storytelling techniques inspired by traditional and contemporary documentary genres in a creative and critical manner
- use traditional formats or new technology for presentation and distribution.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course is not highly technical - it focuses more on the development of content and ideas. However you do need to understand how to use ISO, aperture, shutter speed, white balance and how to change these on your digital SLR, bridge or film camera (i.e. not a point-and-shoot camera). You must have manual functions on your camera (i.e. be able to change the aperture and shutter speed settings). It is ideal for those who have completed our Beginner's Photography: Stage 1' course, or anyone of an equivalent level.
You will need to be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and be prepared to take part in group discussion. You should be happy using numbers and able to do simple measurements and calculations.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be taught via illustrated lectures, workshops and group and individual projects. Regular individual practical projects will also be realised outside the class. While demonstrations and illustrated lectures will guide, advice and teach you, you will benefit from a positive group dynamic where you can share your images and ideas in a supportive environment.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Please bring your camera if you have one; if you don't City Lit has cameras and equipment you can borrow during the hours of the class. You will be expected to cover the costs of the materials you use in your project work.

If you would like to buy art materials for your personal use outside of the course, City Lit students receive 10% discount off everything* from Cass Art, the UK's leading art supplies retailer. Your tutor will advise you on what you should buy. You will need to show your enrolment receipt in-store to receive your discount. Visit the Charing Cross shop at 13 Charing Cross Road WC2H 0EP or find your local shop at *Terms and conditions apply, visit

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

City Lit runs over 70 different practical and theoretical photography courses, from wedding and wildlife photography to darkroom processing and digital printing. Browse the website or prospectus to get inspired.


Customer Reviews 1 item(s)

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Reviews below are by students who have attended this course, regardless of the course teacher. Please be aware you may not be booking onto a course with the same teacher.

I have really enjoyed this course- it is organised , interesting, hands-on, informative , challenging . I have learnt many new skills with the camera and have enjoyed learning with a professional friendly and helpful teacher .
Course Rating
Review by mitra mosahebi / (Posted on 27/11/2019)
Tutor Biographies
Armelle Skatulski

I am a fine art photographer and lecturer who has worked for leading arts institutions such as the Whitechapel Gallery (London), the Gallery of Photography (Dublin), the National College of Art & Design of Ireland, and more recently as a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art. I am committed to the Lifelong Learning sector through my work with organizations such as CityLit as well as through outreach projects. I am a graduate of the School of Media, Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland) and the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College (London). I am presently a PhD candidate at the Royal College of Art for which I was granted a TECHNE doctoral scholarship by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

This course has now started

Course Code: VY602

Full Thu, eve, 16 Jan - 05 Mar '20

Duration: 8 sessions (over 8 weeks)

Full fee: £249.00
Senior fee: £249.00
Concession: £152.00

Call us to check if you can still join the course 020 7492 2700/2703 (depart num)

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.