Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ART 243
Course Title:
The Photographic Portfolio
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Develops a strong artistic vision through creating a professional portfolio. Develops critical skills necessary to expand perceptual and visual cultural awareness through critiques, discussions, reading, research and presentations of personal work. Emphasizes collaboration, professional standards, creative problem solving and service learning. Requires access to a camera. Recommended: ART 143 or ART 140 or ART 240 or instructor permission. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This course utilizes a combination of lectures, slide presentations, guest artists, gallery/museum field trips, and open lab time. Students are given regular photographic assignments, which are critiqued as a group in class. Experiments using a variety of photographic (and non-photographic) materials are encouraged. Lectures and presentations in class are intended to broaden the students' awareness of both historical issues and contemporary practice. Advanced printing techniques, chemical manipulations, and non-traditional presentation methods will be presented. Emphasis in class will be on the student developing a personally expressive vision, and a coherent, high-quality photographic portfolio.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon successful completion students should be able to:

  • Navigate challenges & opportunities of working in a community photographic studio through collaboration, cooperation and service projects both in and beyond the academic environment.
  • Continue to find and develop creative ways to solve artistic and conceptual problems with a deepened understanding of the medium using a variety of professional photographic strategies.
  • Integrate the understanding that any photographic image is created and interpreted through the lens of both the artist and the viewer€™s own personal, social and cultural filters.
  • Continue to understand, interpret and enjoy as well as share photography from past to present within a local as well as global context.
  • Ask sophisticated, meaningful questions, identify ideas and issues, and use increasingly articulate language when participating in critical dialogue about photography with others.
  • Create personal photographic artwork, which demonstrate a professional level of photographic ideas and the processes, materials, and techniques associated with making photographs.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Through regularly scheduled critiques, students will present their completed photographic assignments to the instructor and the class for general comment and discussion. Evaluation will be based upon the technical skill displayed in the photographs, the degree to which the requirements of the assignment are met (and transcended), and the visual interest of the images. Students are expected to participate in class discussions, and to complete at least one written assignment or visual presentation to demonstrate critical thinking skills. A final portfolio, consisting of a certain number of images (determined by the instructor) will demonstrate the highest degree of skill and creativity attained by each student.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

 Mastering the Camera:
Students should understand all of their camera's functions, and those of their camera's accessories, such as electronic flashes; zoom, manual, and autofocus lenses, multiple-exposure controls; be able to determine and set precise film speeds for different films, and use various strategies for the metering of light and calculating of exposure, including the Zone System, and its applications to film development times.

Mastering Film Processing:
Skill must be demonstrated by students in all areas of film processing, including push- and pull-processing, intensifying with toners, and reducing with bleach.

Creating the Fine Print:
The ability to precisely control the contrast and density of black-and-white prints is of critical importance, as it is at the core of the photographic craft. Even if a student should choose to work with non-traditional images or methods, skillful execution of the craft is a basic requirement. Techniques and tools include, but are not limited to, the use of fiber-base printing papers; the use of filters and chemical controls to adjust contrast; skill and judgment in the choice of dodging and burning; use of bleach, color toners, hand-applied colors, color and chemical stains, the addition of writing and/or text, and print-surface manipulations to adjust the appearance of the photograph. A student may also choose to print using non-traditional print materials, such as hand-applied liquid emulsions, or alternative/historic processes.

Presentation Method:
An understanding of industry and gallery accepted presentation methods, including mounting and over-matting, forms the foundation for considering among a number of alternatives regarding the portfolio presentation. The book. the sequence, the diptych and triptych, the multiple-print, or multi-media assemblage, all present different conceptual possibilities; the presentation method represents a summation of the photographer's intentions.

Developing Visual Literacy:
The choice of tools used and their method of employment should be guided by the students° intention and purpose, arising out of their personal vision, their understanding of the contemporary world of photography, and an appreciation of the historical accomplishments of the medium. Increasing knowledge in these areas is important if the student is to merge personal concerns with contemporary artistic and cultural issues. Understanding compositional strategies, camera controls, negative and print manipulation, and presentation methods should all be in the service of those larger concerns, represented in form by the final portfolio.