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Communications 1306 students use a photography assignment to present their views

If you stare at a photograph long enough, your mind begins to piece together a story that describes your perception of an image.

Photography not only offers the viewer stimulation of the eye and the mind, but also serves as a useful tool for communication. This opens a window of interpretation and evaluation that is shaped in part by our individual worldview.

In UHD Professor Dr. Susan Osterberg’s 1306 Communication Course, students presented their observations and reactions to a series of selected photographs.

Osterberg encouraged students to look carefully at the photographs they had chosen and to ask probing questions. Is the image evocative or ambiguous? What perspectives does the photographer present? What is the story? What emotions does it provoke?

In addition to making these observations, each group found creative ways to present their work using music, slideshows, props and other imaginative forms of communication.

A group pitched their ideas on the world famous photo ‘Migrant Mother’ which was captured during the Great Depression by photographer Dorothea Lange in 1936. The photo shows a mother, Florence Owens Thompson, seated as she holds a baby . Two older children are leaning against her, their heads turned away from the camera.

“In the photo, we see a mother with her children clinging to her, but the story is much deeper,” said a student. “We see sadness and suffering, and we feel empathy for them. When you look at the photo in color rather than black and white, you can see the details of their distressed clothing and think how affected they may be by their situation.

After each presentation, Visiting Photography Emeritus Anne Tucker – who has spent nearly three decades working as a curator of photography at The Houston Museum of Fine Arts before retiring in 2015 – gave his own comments and ideas on the images presented by each group.

“Students in Dr. Osterberg’s courses have taken up their challenge in different and impressive ways, involving creative thinking and communication,” Tucker said. “The photographs given to them were not ‘look at it and you’re done’ images…they were open to various interpretations, which required careful examination, questioning and discussion within their groups to develop their class presentations. ”

While the students were only tasked with presenting their perceptions of the photographs, many groups went above and beyond and integrated the research into their presentations.

“They came to understand that the images were layered and open to various conclusions — in part determined by many factors having as much to do with them individually as with the subjects of the images,” Tucker added. “It was a pleasure to hear their evolutionary findings.

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