Photography for Public Relations


PRE-214-01  TR  12:30-1:45 p.m. Old Main 238

Department of Mass Communications

University of North Carolina at Pembroke


Dr. Anthony R. Curtis

Spring 2004



Welcome to the world of photojournalism possibly today's most exciting, fun and fulfilling line of work. Photojournalism is about people, places and things. Photojournalists record the human condition in good times and bad. Photographs have been known to stimulate action among communities, nations and even the whole world. This basic photography course, PRE-214, will be a visual adventure. You will learn the basic visual and technical aspects of photojournalism in a series of experiences that will include hard news, soft news features, sports, entertainment, portraits, and community events both on and off campus. Your learning opportunity in this course will reach fulfillment in a capstone project a photo essay where you tell a story through a series of your images.


Course Description:

This is a lower-division university course about the basics of still photography for use in mass communications, especially for public relations professionals and journalists, but of use to all who experience photographs. The latest digital photographic techniques will be employed throughout, including digital still cameras and digital darkroom software on computers. Simple digital still cameras will be used along with departmental computer labs.


In this course, we will look at how public relations and journalism professionals can make their own photographs as well as work with professional photographers. The work output should be suitable for publication in newspapers, magazines, company publications, brochures, pamphlets, broadsides, flyers, announcements, bulletins, circulars, folders, handouts, leaflets, throwaways, tracts, and digital slide-show presentations.

Credit: 3 semester hours.


Course Purposes and Objectives:

You should come away from this course with an understanding of the basic visual and technical aspects of photojournalism. Your understanding of these will be gained through a series of assignments in which you photograph general news events, feature stories, sports, personality portraits, community events, and other standard newspaper, magazine and public relations subjects.


Discussed extensively throughout the semester will be the history and impact of photojournalism on American culture, and the ethical and moral questions about editing, cropping and digital image manipulation that circulate through photojournalism today. By providing a basic appreciation of photojournalism, this course should be of value to aspiring photojournalists as well as writers and editors seeking a broader visual awareness.


After completing this course satisfactorily, you should be able to:

       Manually operate a digital still camera.

       Apply photographic content and composition techniques to your photography.

       Manipulate digital images at an elementary level using Adobe Photoshop and digital darkroom software.

       Apply your elementary photographic skill to a field of study.

       Tell stories with photographs.

       Combine words and pictures to tell your story on the printed page and on virtual pages.

       Produce photographs of near professional-quality standards.

       Evaluate photographs based on professional standards.

       Differentiate between various branches of photojournalism.


After completing this course satisfactorily, you should understand the:

       Difference between being a photographer and a journalist.

       How photojournalism has developed and its relative importance in a visual world.

       Requirements of professional-level photojournalism.

       Journalistic ethics and responsibilities as they apply in photojournalism.

       Minimum technical skills for equipment essential to contemporary photojournalism.

       Basic techniques used in photojournalism.

       Basic freedom of press, business practices and copyright.

       The benefits and drawbacks of fulltime and freelance careers in photojournalism.




This course will include in-class discussion, brainstorming, and individual, group and instructor presentations, as well as work outside of classroom facilities and outside of class hours on individual photography projects. Your assignments will result in collecting, designing and preparing relevant photojournalistic images and making single and group presentations. All of these efforts throughout the semester will help you develop a working knowledge and understanding of the role of photography in journalism and public relations.


Class will meet at the scheduled times in Old Main room 238, and sometimes in room 237. You may process your photographs on computers in Old Main rooms 238 and 138, as well as on own your home computers if you wish. Your photography shooting assignments generally will be carried out beyond the classroom.



Horton, Brian. Associated Press Guide to Photojournalism - 2nd Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001  [ISBN 0-07-136387-4].

Recommended reading:

Burian, Peter . and Robert Caputo. National Geographic Photography Field Guide - 2nd Ed. Washington D.C.: National Geographic, 2003  [ISBN 0-7922-5676-X].

Zavoina, Susan C. and John H. Davidson. Digital Photojournalism. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2002  [ISBN 0-205-33240-4].




While working on your academic degree here at UNCP, and in your professional career later, you will find it essential to stay up-to-date on current events and the state-of-the-art in news gathering and packaging technology. In the case of photojournalism, you will find it important to view the works of professional photojournalists as they appear in print and on the Internet. Events, as reflected in mass media, change constantly. To maintain current knowledge, especially as to the state-of-the-art in photojournalism, you should read a major newspaper every day. For instance, you might select the Fayetteville Observer, Charlotte Observer, Raleigh News & Observer, Washington Post, or New York Times. In addition, you should read a weekly newsmagazine such as Time or Newsweek.


Internet Resources:

All of the above print-media publications have affiliated websites, which can be great way stations during your daily excursion through the world of mass media in search of examples of professional photojournalism.


Professors office hours for assistance with this course:

Monday: 10-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Wednesday: 10-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-2:30 p.m.

In addition, Dr. Curtis frequently can be found in his office at other times during weekdays.

247 Old Main           phone 521-6616          email:



Course Schedule


NOTE: As we proceed through the semester, the exact dates listed above may change as more or less time may be required to complete topics. This syllabus and schedule should be seen as a guide to course activities and expectations as of the beginning of the semester. Some topics may be added or not covered due to developing semester time constraints. Content areas may not necessarily develop or be presented in an order planned at the outset of the semester. Your professor reserves the right to amend the syllabus and the schedule, as needed, depending on work accomplished in class meetings and the needs of students enrolled in the course.



Thursday                      1/15     Course introduction



Tuesday                       1/20     The Camera


Thursday                      1/22     Photojournalism History and Profession

                                                The Photography Editor



Tuesday                       1/27     Colors


Thursday                      1/29     Natural vs. Artificial Light



Tuesday                       2/3       Night Photography


Thursday                      2/5       General and Spot News Photo



Tuesday                       2/10     Sports Photo


Thursday                      2/12     Portrait



Tuesday                       2/17     The Photo Clich


Thursday                      2/19     Feature Photo



Tuesday                       2/24     Picture Stories and Essays


Thursday                      2/26     Hands or Hats Photos



Tuesday                       3/2       Greenhouse and Environmental Photo


Thursday                      3/4       Departmental Photo


Spring Break March 8-12



Tuesday                       3/16     Photo Clich Redux


Thursday                      3/18     Product Photo



Tuesday                       3/23     Issue Photo


Thursday                      3/25     Studio Photo



Tuesday                       3/30     Five-Layer Photo


Thursday                      4/1       Presentation 1

                                                Presentation 2



Tuesday                       4/6       Presentation 3

                                                Presentation 4


Thursday                      4/8       Presentation 5

                                                Presentation 6



Tuesday                       4/13     Presentation 7

                                                Presentation 8


Thursday                      4/15     Presentation 9

                                                Presentation 10



Tuesday                       4/20     Presentation 11

                                                Presentation 12


Thursday                      4/22     Avant Garde Photo



Tuesday                       4/27     Portfolio Due


Thursday                      4/29     Last Class reflection and renewal



Course Guidelines


Participation: Classroom communication is a process of sharing. Your observations, insights and analyses are valuable to the whole class. Your participation will be reflected in a concrete way in your semester grade.


Attendance: Attendance is very important, while absence is counterproductive. This is a fast-paced, tightly scheduled course. Take it only if you seriously intend to work both in and out of class. Your active presence in class is essential. You must be present for ALL activities and presentations. Regular attendance will be reflected in your course grade.  Multiple unexplained and/or unexcused absences will result in extra penalties deducted from your term grade. Multiple excused absences also will lower your grade significantly.


Assignment Deadlines: Attention to deadlines is extremely important. Deadline dates are very important. You must deliver finished assignments at the beginning of class on their due dates to receive full credit. If you miss a class or part of a class, it remains your responsibility to turn in assignments due that day by the start of class that day and to complete the assignments for the next class day. Late assignments will be penalized one letter grade for each class day late. Submissions will not be accepted one week after the due date.


Photographs: Your photos will be presented for class discussion. Please be prepared to discuss the strategies and techniques you employed in the acquisition of each image, as well as technical aspects of your camera work.


Captions: Each photograph submitted must be accompanied by a complete, accurate caption (cutline). The caption print-out should include the assignment title, date of submission, your name, and the course number.


Writing: Written assignments must be printed on one side of the paper. Be sure your name and course identification is on your work. Handwritten work is not acceptable.


Reading: Please complete each reading assignment PRIOR to the day it is assigned so you can take part in discussions in class and apply the techniques learned from reading.


Critiques: There will be a photo critique session in most class meetings. During these sessions, please comment openly and freely on the work submitted by all members of the class. Refer to the standards described elsewhere in the Grades section of this syllabus. Your comments can be positive or negative, but should be delivered diplomatically, in good taste, and free of ad hominem arguments. We must be sensitive to the work and feelings of others at all times. You comments should be insightful, helpful and considerate. Critiques are intended to help each member of the class improve her or his work through the semester. If, at any point, you feel a critique is unwarranted, hateful, or mean-spirited, let the professor know as soon as possible.


Equipment: A university-owned camera will be assigned to you for use in meeting the assignments of this course. You must sign a check-out agreement form when you take charge of the camera. You must protect the equipment from breakage and return it in good working order at the last class meeting. You will provide replacement batteries as they become necessary during the semester. The camera alone can meet your needs as you complete assignments for this course. Any accessory equipment you feel you need to use with the camera will be provided by you.


Portfolios: Portfolios are tools for tracking development. They are the way you present yourself to professionals. Portfolios are required when applying for photo scholarships, internships and jobs. For this course, you must keep an electronic portfolio for submission at the end of the semester. You are encouraged to carry a camera at all times. You never know what photo opportunities you might find while walking around campus or town or driving in the countryside. Take pictures, even if a photograph isnt right for a particular assignment. Your portfolio grade will include credit for the number and the types of photographs you took that were not part of specific assignments. Your portfolio should include your best work during the semester.


Public Conduct: In carrying out assignments outside of the classroom, you must act professionally at all times, on and off campus.


Student  Academic Honor Code:  You have the responsibility to know and observe the UNCP Academic Honor Code which forbids cheating, plagiarism, abuse of academic materials, fabrication, or falsification of information, and complicity in academic dishonesty.


Special Assistance: Please see the instructor as soon as possible if you have questions or difficulty. Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments is requested to speak directly to Disability Support Services and the instructor, as early in the semester (preferably within the first week) as possible.  All discussions will remain confidential.  Please contact Mary Helen Walker, Disability Support Services,  DF Lowry building,  521-6695.





This course is project intensive. You will shoot many photo assignments during the semester. Your submissions in response to the assignments will be judged subjectively by the professor on creativity, craftsmanship, originality, graphic organization, communicative value, quality of content, uniqueness of vision, and how publishable an image is, as well as technical aspects such as use of camera and lighting.


Grades for each of your assignments are based upon a professional standard. Although you may be taking your first photographs in this class, the professor will evaluate your work according to its suitability for publication in a newspaper or magazine or on a news website whose standards correspond to the industry-wide norm.


At the outset, your photographs are likely to be weak in technique and composition. The professor will take this into account and your semester grade will be based upon improvement and consistent effort.









Your final semester grade will be based on the professors subjective evaluation of the work you complete and submit during the course. Punctuality on assignments and your attendance and participation in class, written materials such as captions, and in-class activities also will be very important considerations. Attendance and enthusiastic participation will form a significant portion of the semester grade.


The grading scale used for this course is 100-90%=A to A-; 89-80%=B+ to B-; 79-70%=C+ to C-; 69-60%=D+ to D-; 59% and below=F.