A Photo Teacher |

The List

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul Turounet on August 17, 2014


In his 1954 Guggenheim Fellowship application, the photographer Robert Frank suggested…

“The photographing of America” is a large order – read at all literally, the phrase would be an absurdity. I speak of the things that are there, anywhere and everywhere – easily found, not easily selected and interpreted. A small catalog come to mind’s eye: a town at night, a parking lot, a supermarket, a highway, the man who owns three cars and the man who owns none, the farmer and his children, a new house and a warped clapboard house, the dictation of taste, the dream of grandeur, advertising, neon lights, the faces of the leaders and the faces of the followers, gas tanks and post offices and backyards…

These initial ideas of Robert Frank’s shooting list would be compiled into the seminal photographic book, The Americans.



I like these lists because they are excuse to get out the door. But the reason I used the list on my business card is because it explains my photographic practice. I don’t want to just photograph Weimreimers. I want my subject to be, as Robert Frank put it in his 1954 Guggenheim Fellowship proposal, ‘broad’ and ‘voluminous’.

– Alec Soth, On Lists


Assignment and Requirements

The List

  1. Someone/Something Jumping
  2. Isolation/Loneliness
  3. Money
  4. Street Gutter
  5. Someone Sleeping
  6. Someone Laughing
  7. Someone Crying
  8. Flowing Water
  9. A Bar of Soap
  10. Looking Through a Windshield / Glass Window
  11. Extreme Close-Up of Face (Self or Someone Else)
  12. Something at Shoe-Level
  13. Luminance / Brightness
  14. Something that Smells Bad
  15. Justice
  16. Consumerism
  17. Looking Straight Up
  18. Home Environment
  19. Socks
  20. Longing/Desire
  21. A Hot Dog
  22. Ice Cream
  23. Unusual Tree
  24. Falling
  25. Perspective of an Insect
  26. A Kiss
  27. A Red Car
  28. Dinner
  29. Toilet Paper
  30. Hand(s)

Make photographs that reflect focused attention on the Different Items/Ideas from The List above.

How would you approach this subject matter photographically to reveal what they would look like as a photographs?

What do you want the photographs to reveal, suggest or evoke, intellectually and/or emotionally, in relationship to these items and/or ideas from The List?

Consider how your use of the camera, photographic aesthetics and materials will be used in making photographs that are Visually Engaging and Intellectually Stimulating / Emotionally Responsive – what may the photographs be about, including the possibilities of literal, emotional and thematic meanings.

In developing your photographic vision and use of camera aesthetics, give particular attention to your use of the photographic aesthetic considerations to reveal your interpretation of the thing itself and details:

  • Frame
    • Compositional Organization, including Top-to-Bottom, Side-to-Side, Foreground-to-Background Relationship, Linear Perspective and/or Symmetrical/Asymmetrical Balance, including as Horizontal and Vertical Orientations.
  • Vantage Point
    • Perspective of photographer and camera to subject = Eye Level, Looking Up or Looking Down, Tilting of Frame.
  • Moments of Exposure
    • The decisive moment = how the Subject, Details, Framing and Vantage Point come together simultaneously to reveal the Thing Itself, what the photograph is showing the viewer and interpretive possibilities.
  • Range of Lighting Directions
    • Front, Top, Side, Diffused and/or Backlit Circumstances.
  • Range of Lighting Circumstances
    • Daylight (Sunrise, Mid-Day, Afternoon, Sun, Cloudy, Overcast, Rain), Indoors, Mixed Lighting and/or Night.
  • Grayscale
    • Grayscale, and black-and-white, can provide both visual and psychological/emotional possibilities in looking at a contemporary subject in a different manner.
  • Color of Light
    • As Suggested by Range of Lighting Circumstances to imply Mood and Emotional Tone.
  • Descriptive Color 
    • Purposeful Placement of Colors present in Scene, Subject Matter and Details – not Color for Color Sake.

With this assignment, it is essential that your photographic process reflect a sense of considered thought and active visual exploration.



Photograph and Upload a minimum of 10 photographs as Individual Postings on your Instagram account of at least 10 Different Items/Ideas from The List.

There are 30 Different Items/Ideas on The List.

NOTE: You will need to Photograph and Submit a minimum of 10 Different Items/Ideas from The List, and you are encouraged to photograph and upload additional items in an effort to improve your evaluation and grade.

Please Identify By List Subject Number what each Submitted Photograph is from The List on each Instagram Post.

NOTE: Only Photographs made since the start of the class will be accepted. Please do not submit photographs previously made before the start of the class.

You are encouraged to Submit More Than the Minimum Photographs assigned – Please Review the Rubric.

In addition, it is recommended that your submission demonstrates careful attention to the Image Editing and Selection Process.

Repetitive and/or Similar Imagery

Submitting more photographs than the minimum requirement doesn’t necessarily mean your evaluation will earn a higher grade.

Rather, it is beneficial that your submission demonstrates consideration on both the Minimum Photograph Requirement as well as the Range of Photographs Submitted in response to the conceptual ideas outlined in the assignment prompt(s).

NOTE: It is suggested that you avoid duplicate and repetitive-type imagery – submitting multiple photographs of the same scene or photographic circumstances.

For example, submitting multiple photographs of the same subject matter, such as sunsets or flowers, with the same use of the Aesthetic Considerations, including Frame, Vantage Point and/or Lighting Direction / Circumstance.

NOTE: If you do submit similar photographs from the same circumstance, this would be fine if this is helpful for you to learn more about editing and selecting images. These should posted as with the Multiple-Image option within One Individual Posting.

Each Multiple-Image Posting of Similar Photographs would count as One Photograph.


NOTE: Please Post Photographs as Individual Postings with Assignment Hashtag.

It is very important you include the following hashtag so that I can view your work for the assignment and evaluate it. The following hashtag template is to be used:


Reflective Statement

On the Canvas Assignment Submission, write a reflective statement (minimum of 2 paragraphs recommended) that describes in depth how the work is Visually Engaging and Intellectually Stimulating / Emotionally Responsive – what may the collection and/or series of photographs be about, including the possibilities of literal, emotional and thematic meanings.

  • First Paragraph – Visually Engaging:
    • Select and discuss at least 2 photographs from The List that you believe were the most challenging and why.
  • Second Paragraph – Intellectually Stimulating / Emotionally Responsive:
    • Select and discuss at least 2 photographs from The List that you believe are the most interesting and why.

Number your responses ( 1 – 2 ).


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