COM 597: Visual Culture: The Power of Imagery in the Digital Age (Avni)

Former Tags: Summer 2014, MCDM

Course Description:

Over 500 million photographs a day get shared on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Instagram as photography has taken center stage on today’s social media platforms. Those early inventors of photography would have found it hard to imagine the relative ease and speed with which today’s average Joe or June can snap, pick, and publish. This course will explore of the impact of the photographic image on social media, reportage, and visual storytelling, as well as create an understanding about the use of information design in data visualization and infographics. A few of the topics to be explored will include the “Social Psychology of the Selfie”, the “Seven Types of Social Photography”, “Photography as User Interface”, “Cellphone Photojournalism”, “User-generated Imagery vs. Professional Imagery”, and how data and information can be “Beautiful and Useful”. Students will gain an understanding of key design principles and knowledge about how to effectively use visual elements and graphics to complement and enhance storytelling. There will be readings from practitioners and thought leaders in the field, as well as discussion of applicable communication theories. The class will engage in some hands-on design and photography work, but no special equipment or graphic design skills are needed. True to the nature of this course, if you have a cellphone you have a camera.

Student Testimonial:

“Robin Avni’s class covers a range of topics involving the power of imagery; everything from the history of photography and photojournalism to the influence of visuals in social media. Not only do we gain a new appreciation for photography, but we learn about the principles and aesthetics of what it takes to create a memorable image—a great skill to have professionally and personally. For the final project, Avni allowed us so much creative freedom. It was a terrific opportunity to explore personal passions, and because of that freedom, everyone’s projects were so unique and interesting. The physical and digital world is so saturated with images—it’s hard to compete. Learning the technicalities of what truly resonates with a viewer and how a single image can tell a story was inspiring. It helped me make more deliberate decisions in the kind of visuals I use both at work and within my personal networks. Avni’s passion for photography and imagery was evident throughout the class. Her breadth of knowledge and experience is so rich. Avni also goes above and beyond for her students; her feedback was thorough and she helped individuals identify a specific challenge that would directly apply to their final project as well as work-related assignments.”