Photo Essay: Portray YOUR Rochester

500 University Avenue Don Menges

500 University Avenue Don Menges

Art and an Oil Change #1 Steve Malloy Desormeaux

Art and an Oil Change #1 Steve Malloy Desormeaux

Hopefully, viewing The NOTA Project and talking with the photographers at Image City Gallery has given you a clearer understanding of the photo essay. For your final fall photography assignment, you will create a photographic essay representing Rochester as you see it. You may choose to photograph your neighborhood, family, sports team, or favorite after school hangout. Take as many photos as you can – the more options you have to choose from, the better. At the end of the unit, you will post the 10-12 photographs that you feel best show your vision of Rochester (along with a 250 word artist statement) to your blog.

Although the term “artist statement” feels very formal, we encounter artist statements every day. When each photographer spoke about their work last class, they were essentially narrating an artist statement.

More information about The NOTA Project  and Image City Gallery can be found here.

Here are some examples of powerful photo essays:

Some of the photographers at Image City Gallery mentioned feeling like there were multiple worlds within Neighborhood of the Arts. Shortly after taking office, mayor Lovely Warren referred to Rochester as “a tale of two cities.” Here is a brief excerpt from that speech (you can read the speech in its entirety here):

“In his State of the State address just a few short weeks ago, Governor Cuomo candidly and accurately described Upstate New York as being in a “cycle of decline” — and the evidence of this is clear to see in Rochester.  The Rochester of today is far different from the Rochester of just a generation ago. Rochester is a tale of two cities.  One city is vibrant, hopeful, wealthy, and highly livable. The other suffers from escalating poverty, dysfunction, unemployment that is higher today than it was during the Great Depression — and a deficient educational system.  This divide has both immediate human consequences and short and long-term economic consequences.

The Mayor’s challenge — our community’s shared challenge — is to bridge these divides so that all people feel there is hope for them and their children; and we all feel that we have an equal stake in the future.  A recent report by the Rochester Area Community Foundation outlined the harsh reality we face; and the findings are a call to action that cannot go unanswered.

Rochester is the:

  • Fifth poorest city in the country among the top 75 largest metropolitan areas;

  • Second poorest among comparably sized cities in those metro areas;

  • Ranked third for highest concentration of extremely poor neighborhoods among cities in the top 100 metro areas;

  • Poorest urban school district in the State.”


Today you will inventory the photos you have taken, decide which photos you may want to include in your photo essay, and make a list of any shots you will still need to take. You will then continue editing your images. By the end of this class, you will create a new blog post with the following:

  • Any photos you may include in your photo essay (unedited are fine for now)
  • A list of 8-10 additional photos that would complete your photo essay (we will have one last shooting day next Tuesday)
  • A minimum of 5 photographs taken by another photographer depicting the photographic style you hope to mimic
  • A brief project proposal (minimum of 10 sentences) describing your project concept. This should be written in the form of an artist statement. What motivates you to photograph these subjects? What mood are you trying to portray? What elements in other photographer’s work do like appreciate and hope to capture in your own photo essay?
  • before and after photos of any images you edited today

Extra Credit Opportunity for students who are missing blog posts:

  1. Write a thank you letter to the photographers at Image City Gallery. This thank you letter should be a minimum of 10 sentences and include the following: what you learned, what you enjoyed, how the show and/or field trip ties into your own photography experience. Email this thank you letter to Ms. Lawson by Thursday, October 30th. This will count as one blog post.
  2. Create a SEPARATE blog post with featuring photos taken on the field trip, and a one paragraph summary of the field trip. This must be posted by Thursday, October 30th. This will count as one blog post.

Remember, the marking period ends Friday, November 7th. There will be no other extra credit.


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