“Real and Imagined” is a photo based theory and practice workshop.

Class meets on

Room F200

Real and Imagined” addresses the inherent contradiction present in all still photographs: photos are simultaneously fact and fiction.  We’re going at it full throttle, my friends.  By “it,” I mean we’re going to be doing some serious thinking about the mutability of singular meanings ascribed to individual photos. Readings, discussion, and photo based project assignments are all going to happen.  This class is a happening, no question.

A fixed meaning attached to singular photographic images can quickly shift when the photo is presented in different forums or contexts.  And both printed photos and electronic media based images are often juxtaposed with disparate and unconnected texts purporting to have a singular or real meaning of the photo.  We’ll talk about it in class. It’ll be great.

In addition to the assigned readings and exercises, workshop participants are required to construct three photo based projects – a print based project, a web-based project, and a wholly experiential piece. All of the projects must include still photographs you have made.  And while the required projects must be produced in the assigned medium, the content of the photographs can be anything at all.  There’s only one paper due, a two page paper describing your experiential project.

The photo projects can be related to something you’re currently working on, or the photos can have no connection to anything you’ve made before.  The photo assignments do not have to be related to the assigned readings. The projects are less “call and response” and more “parallel universe.”

However, a wide open “do anything you want” can be much more daunting than a defined form or assignment, so we’ll discuss the projects in class and I expect class participation from everyone the workshop.  I’m expecting everyone in the class to bring it.  And by “it,”  I mean the “it” that people bring when they are asked to “bring it.”

Each week in class we will discuss the readings and your individual projects  Occasionally I’ll show a brief powerpoint in class.  Sometimes the powerpoint will be about the assigned readings, sometimes the powerpoint will be tangential to the readings but relevant to class discussion.

“Real and Imagined” is open to students working in all mediums.

“Real and Imagined” students are expected to participate in classroom discussion and engage with others in the workshop.  I am making the assumption workshop participants will have different strengths (e.g. skilled printers or internet crackerjacks) and will gladly share information with others in the class regarding your individual projects.  Of course, assuming is totally a mistake since it makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”
Throwing caution to the wind here!  I’m going with assumption!

A few of the readings I’ve assigned are chock full of academic jargon.  Don’t be put off by it. In fact, I didn’t begin to glean new information out of several of the assigned readings until I reread them years later.

Just putting it out there, friends!


All assigned readings, except for two physical books you’re required to get for the class, are posted on this site and listed under the tab “Class Schedule”  at the top of the page.  There are also several suggested readings.  Rest assured, when a reading is suggested, I genuinely mean “check it out at your leisure.”

Assigned readings are subject to change as the course moves forward.  I will also post a “follow up” to every class with comments, links to relevant to class discussion and additional suggested readings.

I do STRONGLY suggest folks print out the readings and read them on paper, as opposed to on screen.

One book is required for Real and Imagined:

Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography by Errol Morris

and one book is STRONGLY recommended :

Origins Of Form by Christopher G. Williams

click here for a list of places where you can buy them



Grading Policy for “Real and Imagined”

creative and mental growth why no evaluation chart is included rai final _0154 smaller

The text above is adapted from
Creative and Mental Growth (Revised 1952 Edition)
by Viktor Lowenfeld

While the “evaluation” text  is a great description of how to grade students, I added the footnotes because it needed some tweaking to be accurate.

Here’s a link to how grades will actually be handed in-

CalArts Grading Policy 

No pressure or anything, but I will be genuinely pissed if I have to give someone a grade lower than HP.

February 25: print project is due

April 1: web project is due

May 6: a two page paper describing your experiential project is due.


Two class rules:

-Sad to say, no dogs… or cats… are allowed in class.  It would be a allergy horror for me.

-Also, no cell phone or ipad usage in class.  Paper and pencil, my friends!


For those following online:

It’s the same structure as the “in person” class, except you don’t physically come to class.

For those enrolled at CalArts:

Come to class

Do the readings

Do the assignments

For online:

Come to class

Do the readings

Do the assignments

Click here for the Class Schedule

The projects do not have to have any direct connection to the readings.  The projects can be about anything at all so long as they are produced in the assigned medium.  Print, web and experiential projects are assigned.

The readings are diverse, my friends.  Included in the readings are outdated text books, germinal photo theory pieces, magazine articles.  Some readings might appear to be completely unconnected and irrelevant to photography.  Trust me, they are connected.  Some readings are academic and some are from “Scientific American.”  There you go.

A few free online academic resources: 
Online Information: “Knowledge Is Power”


Below is another course description, albeit abstract.  Check it out!   Numerator above denominator word and phrase fractions. However, this doesn’t offer a concrete description of coursework and who the hell would take a course without a concise and somewhat accurate description of coursework?  I wouldn’t.

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