Looking at Color Photography

Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals

Here is a assortment of some of my favorite contemporary photographers working in color, and web links to their work.

ASSIGNMENT: Visit all the photographer’s websites. Pick three photos from three different websites that interest or excite you. Create a google doc. Write a short paragraph (minimum 5, maximum 7) sentences describing what you see in the photo. For each, be sure to comment on what you see (what’s happening in the photo? Is it really happening, staged or fantasy? What’s the subject or idea? Where are we? Why is it important?), AND how composition and color are used by the photographer to enhance the image. Add the image to your description, so I can see what you are talking about. 

Add a fourth photographer–one you find yourself. Your teacher can point you in the right direction if you like, but I recommend finding an area of interest and doing a web search to find photography you are interested in. Copy or screenshot an image for your google doc, and write about it. Be sure to write the name of the photographer and include a link to their website. 

Barbara Bosworth, (“Natural Histories” “Birds and other Angels” and other projects) https://www.barbarabosworth.com/the-heavens

Christopher Payne  (“Asylum”)  http://www.chrispaynephoto.com/asylum/

Cig Harvey (“You Look At Me Like an Emergency”  “Gardening at Night” “You an Orchestra, You a Bomb” or “Pavlovas at Midnight”) http://www.cigharvey.com

Rania Matar http://www.raniamatar.com/portfolio/girl-and-her-room.php


Richard Renaldi (focus on the color images/projects) http://renaldi.com/projects/

Kahn and Selesnick http://kahnselesnick.biz/

Edward Burtynski  http://www.edwardburtynsky.com

and http://ideas.ted.com/2006/10/31/gallery-edward-burtynskys-extraordinary-images-of-manufactured-landscapes/

Alec Soth (“Sleeping by the Mississippi”) http://alecsoth.com/photography/?page_id=14


Laura McPhee  http://www.lauramcphee.com

Alex and Rebecca Norris Webb http://www.burnmagazine.org/essays/2009/10/alex-webb-rebecca-norris-webb-violet-isle/

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Photography Book Reviews

Two Books of Astronomy, 1996. Abelardo Morell


  • Look at photography books in the classroom. You can look at any of the photography books.
  • Find books that are compelling, share with classmates, or ask your teacher for recommendations based on genre (type of photos). Explore a variety of photographers and image making techniques, based on student interest.
  • Write a one paragraph review of each book with, highlighting one or more images that you found particularly compelling.
  • Share your google document with your teacher.


  1. You will look at many images, but are required to write a review of three images of your choice, from four different books.
  2. Use your laptop while browsing books. A google doc has been provided to get you started on the Classroom post.
  3. Explore books. Take several off the shelf that interest you. Feel free to share with friends in the class (recommend books to each other).
  4. Review the book and photographer. For each image:
    1. Take note of the photographer. Also, take note of the page number if there is one.
    2. Why are you drawn to this photo (Like it, or can’t stop looking at it?)
    3. Who, what and where? (What is happening in the image? Who is the subject? Where are we? Also, where is the photographer in relation to the subject?)
    4. How does the photo speak to you? (Ideas? Emotions?)
    5. Think of one word that sums up this photo to you.
  5. Plan to share your favorite images with the class.