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Online Photojournalism Course

Narrative Photography

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Readers and publishers expect photographers to be able to tell stories with images. In this online photojournalism course, you will explore how to utilize an editorial or narrative approach to photography. Throughout the course, you will use conceptualism in conjunction with documentary to build photo essays and other narrative projects. Studying with a respected photojournalist, you'll learn how to research, pitch, shoot, edit, and present a body of work that encompasses unifying themes.

Online photojournalism course image - Matthew Williams 

Documentary photography by Matthew Williams

Advanced studies in photojournalism

Instructor-Led Course

Feedback from design professionals

Creative Projects

Stretch your skills, grow your portfolio

Learn at Your Own Pace

Self-paced and scheduled programs available

Course Outline

1 - Telling a Story with a Single Image

Photographs have a unique ability to convey a message and tell a story, whether that be something obvious, such as the beauty of a flower or the celebration of a holiday, or something more complex and abstract. In this lecture we will examine what narrative photography is and how it is created, learning how creative and technical controls can help you tell a story in your photos.

2 - Telling a Story Through Candid Imagery

Life is an ongoing set of events and being prepared to capture that rare moment as it happens is what candid photography is all about. In this lesson, you will learn how to develop the skills required to shoot candid photos. To put everything in a professional context, we will discuss different types of editorial photography and learn about the ethics that guide photojournalists in their jobs.

3 - The Portrait as a Narrative Device

The portrait is a common assignment for a professional photographer; you may do hundreds in your career. Some portraits require extensive lighting and setup, while other portraits are more effective using natural light. Here we will look at different types of lighting in portrait photography. We'll discuss tips for lighting and posing subjects and consider the defining attributes of environmental photographs.

4 - Creating a Narrative Through Multiple Images

Publications like National Geographic and TIME magazine have been publishing long-term documentary storytelling within their pages for years. In this lesson, we're going to look at ways you can create a photo essay to tell the story of an individual. Along the way, we'll examine four case studies that show how photographers create a narrative through multiple images.

5 - Editing Stories and the Travel Essay

The process of shaping a story by selecting and ordering images is called editing. In this lesson, you will learn the fundamentals of editing a photo story. We'll examine some general guidelines on story structure and explore a couple of contrasting case studies. We'll outline some tips for shooting a travel essay, one of my favorite assignments.

6 - Working with Editors and Creating a Personal Style

In this final lesson, we will deal with how to get your narrative photography work published and build your career. There's no secret sauce for this. You will need to take on long-term projects that give you strong material and work hard to discover your personal style. We'll also discuss career development in this lesson.

Course Outcomes

Students in this course can expect to learn to:

  • Show control over shutter speed and aperture, color/black and white, specific lens choice, layering, the use of lines, balance and emphasis, and sharpness and contrast.
  • Create candid and set up shots that tell a story.
  • Create work in select editorial photography categories: sports, general news, spot news, and features.
  • Appropriately caption and keyword your images and exercise control over your workflow.
  • Research contrasting subjects and locations for environmental photo shoots.
  • Create high-quality environmental portraits that use lighting, location/set up, posing, and composition to tell a distinctive story.
  • Create a photo essay of ten or more images that tells a compelling story.
  • Shape a story through your title, description of your project, and your choice and sequence of images.
  • Maintain interest and continuity for the viewer through visual variety and visual consistency in your images.
  • Create a compelling travel essay in the "36 Hours In... " style.
  • Compile a well-organized portfolio of narrative photography work.
  • Identify suitable publishers or media outlets for your work.
  • Represent your work in a proposal to potential photo editors.

Course Registration

Interested in this course? Scheduled enrollment options are available. Ask Admissions about taking this course as part of a degree program.

Course LevelClasses startRegistration FeeTuition
Degree course
3-credit course, 15 week
Jan, Apr, Aug$200$510/credit
* Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from enrollment. All tuition includes a digital materials fee for updates to course or program content.

Software and Supplies

To take this course you'll need:

  • Computer with Internet connection.
  • A digital camera with manual control over aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance.

Who’s Teaching

Course developed by Matthew Williams

Getting Started

Enrolling online is easy and convenient.

Chat with our knowledgeable admissions staff to select course and program options.

Complete your registration entirely online.

Related Programs

Did you know? You can take this course as part of an award-winning certificate or degree program.