INT—Solo Project

Jun 26

Urban Landscapes

Photo Essay, due midnight on the evening of Saturday, Jun 26. Turn in as a link via the comments below.

What defines a neighborhood? People? Buildings? Street layout? Foliage? Economic activity? Or the history of some or all of those things? Working as an individual, consider these questions in creating a photo essay on the social history of a neighborhood. In-person students should focus on a neighborhood in the Boston region (we will tour the West End on Jun 24). Remote students should focus on the social history of an urban neighborhood near where they live. (Note: a “neighborhood” is NOT a town or city taken as a whole; it’s a section delimited by class, race, ethnicity, architectural style, or even economic activity.)

Some Boston neighborhoods to consider (not an exhaustive list):

  • Newberry Street
  • Copley Square
  • Nubian Square
  • Coolidge Corner
  • Central Square
  • Davis Square
  • Fields Corner
  • Inman Square
  • Jamaica Pond
  • Chinatown

Use the West End excursion on June 24 to shape your thinking and draw inspiration of how to tell a “story” of your chosen neighborhood as your completing your photo essay.

Software: as a BU student, you have access to Adobe Creative Cloud software at no cost. Please download it here, then go to and sign in using your BU email as an institutional subscriber. Then, within Spark, choose the Presentation template.

Use 6-8 photographs arranged in such a way as to make a visual argument. No more than three should be taken from the internet—the rest should be your own creations. You can signal your “message” in the essay title and photo captions, but evidence should come in the form of things photographed and analysis should happen implicitly, actualized in the reader’s reaction to those images. Try to use framing, exposure, and other photographic techniques to steer the reader’s emotional response. The handouts “Photographic Techniques” and “The Shot List” (discussed in Rhetoric) are both good resources for doing this. You should consider photographing a part in place of the whole object. You might also want to use a historical photographs, or even juxtapose a historical photograph with a modern one

Near the top, provide a 4-6 sentence quotation (roughly 200 words) characterizing the neighborhood and its history (ok to use Wikipedia for this purpose). Alternatively, you can give a brief account of your own composition. Either way, this initial paragraph should orient the reader to the neighborhood in question and NOT detail your argument about that neighborhood.

The rest of the space should consist solely of photographs, each with a brief caption and photo credit. (Also ok to juxtapose two photographs side-by-side.) Captions should be short phrases or at most one sentence long, and can direct the reader’s attention to a visual detail or simply identify what’s in the photo. Credits are required for all photographs—so credit yourself or the photographer, whoever that is.

Given the short turnaround time between our June 24 trip to the West End and the Jun 26 due date for this assignment, we recommend that you start photographing Boston (or a neighborhood near your current place of residence) now, so as to build up a collection of possible images you might use for this assignment.

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