Documentary Photography: Photographing a Subculture | Casey Griffin | Skillshare

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Documentary Photography: Photographing a Subculture

teacher avatar Casey Griffin, Photographer and Creative Person

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (23m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Ideas

    • 3. Questionnaire

    • 4. Coming Up With Your Own Ideas

    • 5. First Interaction

    • 6. Mud Life

    • 7. Other Resources

    • 8. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

While I was in college, I took a class titled Documentary Photography and the project that I completed clued me in to what kind of photography I wanted to practice. I decided to immerse myself in a subculture that played a part in my upbringing that I had never really been able to experience completely. Now, I want to teach you what I learned during that semester, as an outsider coming into a new group.

This class is for anyone interested in getting to know more about their community or a specific subculture.

If all you have is a point and shoot camera, this class is for you!

If you have a DSLR but shoot on Auto, this class is for you, too!

If you are a Pro and shoot Manual on your Entry Level to Professional DSLR, guess what, this class is for you!

I designed this class to focus mainly on the subculture you choose not your level of knowledge of photography.

In this class, I'll give you some resources on how to choose your subculture and to research it, as well as some tips for surviving your first interaction with your subculture.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Casey Griffin

Photographer and Creative Person


Born and raised in Florida, I travel around the country during the spring and fall taking formal portraits of fraternity and sorority members for a historical document kept in their houses representing the members (Composites.) During the winter and summer I can be found traveling or chillin on my moms couch on the Space Coast where I grew up. My love of photography developed out of my habit of people watching. Traveling as a young girl I became fascinated with different cultures and personalities represented in one city or town. It wasn't until college that I really dove into photography. In the summer of 2012, a once-in-a-lifetime study-abroad trip to Italy gave me the opportunity to experience a culture I had only studied. While there, I produced a photographic series illustrating th... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, My name's Casey Griffin. Thank you for an interest in my class. I just wanted to tell you a little bit about myself and why I chose to teach this class. I was a photography major in college, and I absolutely loved every second of it. My favorite project that I ever did was in a class called documentary Photography. Um, and what I chose to do for my project waas to photograph a subculture. So pretty much I immersed myself completely in this, this little known subculture, mainly in the south of mud ing, driving your big jacked up trucks through big mud holes and seeing if you make it through pretty much that's that's a summary of it. And I'm gonna go into several examples later on in this class. I'm also going to tell you about different re sources and techniques that I use during my own research. In my own project, I'm going thio going Teoh give you some some tips on how to choose your own subculture. Part of the project is going to be answering several questions about your chosen subculture , and honestly, one of the things that you can do is use this questionnaire if you have several different subcultures that you want that you're interested in, um, you can use this question there to kind of decide which which one you're leaning towards. Um, the final project, the first product will be that questionnaire. The final project will be a series of images from the subculture that you chose. I sir, I encourage you to upload your pictures in progress. Pre edit post at it completely, way off the grid, edited anything you choose just to give the others students in the class and idea of what you're working on. Give me an idea of what you're working on. It doesn't have to be your final images at all at all on, then what you can do is you can get that feedback from the the other students and myself. Um, and we can go from there and and see if there's anything you need to work on. Um, any new resource is that you can use if you want. Ask me questions, anything like that. I really encourage you to do that. So I really look forward to what this class is going to produce from all of my students. Andi, I really hope that you get a lot out of this. Thank you. I hope you choose to take this class. 2. Ideas: Hello again. Thank you so much. If you're seeing this video, it means you've enrolled in my class. And I appreciate it so much. One of the first things I wanted to talk about with you and some examples and some ideas to kind of get your your the gear's going in your brain and kind of get you started on thinking about some cultures that you're already, um, involved in in your daily life that he might be more interested in And then some new thing that that comes into your your world. Um, one of the main things is sports. If you are are personally involved in some kind of sport, that would be fantastic images. Those would make me so happy because you're involved in it. It's obviously something that makes you happy, and you are personally involved in it. You're able to really you're already immersed in it. You don't have to immerse yourself in it, you know, But I wanted to kind of bring to your attention some other ideas that you might be able Teoh involved in sports that you might not think of. If you have kids, your kids sports would be a great, great thing to Dio. There's a bonus in there that you'll be able to spend a lot more time with your kids, too. So that's that's fantastic. Um, some tips on the sports that I wanted to get into is not just photographing the practices in the games, but turn your attention around to the stands, turn your attention to the parents and the faces that they're making as their Children are playing. Whether it's, you know, karate for kindergartners or all the way up the high school football, anything. Parents are so proud of their kids turning your attention. Those parents would be so involved in what they're watching that it would just be great images. Ah, lot of people love animals. If you are one of those people are highly encourage you to go to your local shelters. Volunteer to take some images of the animals to kind of help them post on social media posts on their website, but then also in return, asked them for the ability to take some free images, some maybe some promotional images for them, but even images that you can use yourself for this project. Um, for those images, focus on the workers focus on the people working with the animals. Focus on if you get some permission from some a potential adopters coming in. Um, focus on their interaction with the different dogs of the different cats, the different animals that the shelter offers but is a great way to show the animals personalities those again, those but just be fantastic images. Another great idea is car clubs. Any car clubs around you, I'm going to go in later about how to look up some car clubs or you know how to look up some different groups that meet somewhere along in your area along those lines. So I've given you some ideas of some things that I think would make great projects, but I really want you to make them your own. If one of my ideas strikes a chord with you, go out, research it a little bit more, figure out exactly what you want to photograph. If none of these ideas really struck a chord with you in the next lesson, I'm really going to go over. Some resource is that you can use to figure out some cultures that meat around in your area that you have no idea existed at all, eh? So I really wanted to be able to share those with you. And if none of these ideas struck your fancy, So I really hope that you find something that you like and are able to create some beautiful images. 3. Questionnaire: the first project for this class is something very simple. It's to help you really dig into your subculture and find out if it's actually plausible for you to photograph it. It's a question of Philip with several questions on it, just to really help you explore your your subculture finding out. Is it legal? Is it safe? Who knows? So this question that really help you find out if it's a good thing for you to dio. 4. Coming Up With Your Own Ideas: Now I'm going to share some Resource is with you that I use in my own research and finding new ideas and really digging into some of these subcultures before I find out if it's actually plausible that if if I can photograph them or not, the first resource that I'm going to share with you is talking with your own friends. It's often overlooked, but it is one of the simplest things that you could dio talk to your friends. Talk to your acquaintances, talk to your neighbors, talk to your teacher at school. Anybody that you know, really find out what they're interested in. Find out if one of the subcultures that you're interested in look in photographing is something that they're already involved in. Um, you never know that big macho guy that you've been friends with for years. He could be like a ballroom dancer or something. You never know until you ask. So go ahead and talk with your friends. The next resource I would like to share with you is a great website that I found several years ago. Um, it is called you have dot com. This website is great for this project. for several reasons. You can find different categories here. These air great. When you click in the search box, it brings up a bunch different categories that group some identify themselves with. Um, if you are into, say that the car club idea I spoke of in the last lesson really struck with you. So what you can do is click on cars and motorcycles, and it brings up a bunch of groups that meet and our car related. There's sometimes specific ones. Mini Coopers meetings need ups. Sometimes they're very general connected Car club. You can see how many, um, members there are. And a lot of times they call themselves different things. Um, board engineers, car enthusiasts. So the next thing I would like to show you on this is, um, this right here say you're not interested in any of thes that came up in your your primary search. So you feel like going a little bit further. So you search at 50 miles and it brings up significantly more groups that you can join and need up with and really get to know the next thing I find really useful about this website is the calendar So So you're not really finding anything that you like in the groups. You can search by the calendar and just see what's going on around you just to get you started looking, at least, um so I've searched by the calendar within five miles of Atlanta. Um, I'm right outside intently into right now, so that's it automatically does that. Um, welcome to the spring. Time to kick back, relax and have fun. Go ahead and click on it. Just, uh, you know, in that calendar, just find something you weigh. Click on it. It automatically brings it up inside. Thea, the meet up. This is the title of the meat up. So we're in data science and business. That might not be, you know, good for ah, photographing It might be just a networking event where people are are standing around talking to each other. Um, but as for an example, it, uh, goes into the time and location or time and date, and then the location down here, Um, a breeze. Um, description of it. Some comments. The most important thing I like about this page is right here. It gives you a list of people who have RSVP'd that they are going. This is where you can get into talking to the different people who are interested in it. The next resource that I would like to share with you. It's something that you visit probably multiple times a day. Google. You already know the DEA advantages of using people. We use it as a verb. Now Google it. So as an example, I'm going to search for a mud bog around Atlanta so I can see if there's anything interesting around. So it brings me to a bunch of difference. Um, mud Bob's around. Um, there's a different Facebook pages. Facebook pages for different, um, businesses are great. The next thing that I would go there's a good one list of mud runs and obstacle races in Georgia. So if you're interested in mud runs and obstacle races, that would be great thing Teoh search for, um, another thing I like to do is search for questions. So what I'll do is all tie, um, where do people go to Mud Bob in Atlanta, Georgia, and it brings up a lot of the same things. But there are other things. The first time was guide to the mud. Bob, this is a great thing for doing your questionnaire. Um, it brings up a bunch of different pictures, Some inspiration. Therefore, you your it brings up some a definition. So that's great research right there. Another thing that I like to do is search for gloves. Logs can be super super helpful. So you can. This is another great way to do some research and to meet people. Something that I found super super helpful is looking for forums. Forums are literally online gathering places for people interested in the same things and finding a forum, especially of events or something around you. Um, people who gather around in the same area as you. I'm going to go back to something super simple and search for mud Bob Wikipedia. This brings up the basics of whatever it ISS, and this is a great way. Breathe through the Wikipedia pages for, um, difference versions of your subculture search for different keywords. Um, associate ID with your subculture. These would be great resource is for your not only your questionnaire, but to learn about your subculture before going, um, go ahead and do as much research as you want Teoh, Answer those questions and, uh, in the questionnaire and find some type of event. Um, that you would be interested in that. You think people would go to another one before I go? Um, just to find some events happening around you just simply search for your city and events. It gives you a great summary of things going around going on around your area. Um, eventbrite is a great resource for finding different events. Um, around you, and even like the, um, your towns website is a great resource. And, of course, who will has the huge list of events. Um, so go ahead and research use Google itself as a resource, all right? 5. First Interaction: one of the main things that you have to get over is your first interaction with this subculture. So I'm going to give you some tips on how to survive that first interaction with your subculture. It's a simple as being a people person. Um, you know, be polite. Be courteous. Be approachable. Approach others. Um, don't be afraid to ask questions. This is this is a time to be as open is as humanly possible with people. I mean, don't tell him your dirty, dark secrets hidden in the back of the closet or anything, but really get to know them. Have them get to know you photograph them. This is the time to tell them about your project. This is the time to break out your camera, get those first interactions with people. Um, have some knowledge beforehand. That questionnaire that I provided to you that will help you get to know your subculture before you go. Just because you research does not mean that you you're gonna know everything. So even though you do have all this information, all this research done, be willing to ask questions, be willing toe learn. Really Try and get to know the people that are there trying it to know this subculture as as a group they get, Get these people together and no. Then if you're a little scared still and it's perfectly natural, I promise I was terrified the first time I went out. Um, bring a friend with you. That is absolutely perfect. This friend is someone you know you're comfortable with. Um, have them just stand back. It's It's such a comforting feeling just knowing there, someone there to back you up and knowing what you're doing. Um, and even better option is to make a friend who is. 6. Mud Life: Now I'd like to share with you the inspiration for this class. This project has won several awards and has been featured in exhibitions all over Jacksonville. I would like to show you some of my favorite images and kind of help you along give you some inspiration of my own to help with your own projects. When I first described my mud life, Siri's as driving big, jacked up trucks through big mud holes. The first thing you pictured was exactly that right. You pictured big, jacked up trucks driving through big models, even though that's exactly what a melting event is. And that may be what makes it fun. That's not what made it interesting to me as as an outsider coming into a new situation. What made it interesting to me was the different people that I met, these people driving the trucks that were absolutely drenched head to toe in mud like this guy. It was the people sitting on the sidelines and this girl with the rebel flag, um, sitting on top of a truck that's being driven through a big mudhole, thes people who enjoy this thrill of not knowing what the next bump is going to bring them . It was absolutely thrilling, and I think the main thing that I want you to get out of this lesson is of course, I want you to be inspired by these images. But I really want you to understand that these events and subcultures that you're choosing to do it, maybe about the subculture. But what really makes a subculture is the people so a photograph some big, wide open scenes, but bring it in a little bit and create some more intimate situations. Create some more detailed images that really describe what these people are going through when they're in this, describe what they are, what what draws them to these different situations, And that's that's really what I want these images to show. It is why these people do what they do. I really want to know why these people are drawn to these subcultures. But I also want to know why you were drawn to this subculture, and I want to see that through your images. So I really hope I know that I want to get some great images and I really, really want you to dive deep into these subcultures and really get to know them. 7. Other Resources: If you go to the class project section in this class, you will find a few lengths to help you with some inspiration. There are a few photographers in there that I found helpful when I was doing my own project . Do some only do some research on your own in. See if there's other photographers out there may be doing. Maybe that they have a similar photographic style is you may be there photographing something similar to the subculture that you chose. Maybe some other student could be helped by some of these photographers that you find Go ahead and post those websites in the lakes for for other students and myself to check them out and be inspired by them. I've also included some wings, Teoh, some photo essay information, some tips ah, definition. And there's a really great article, and I think it's a second or third paragraph that has 8. Final Thoughts: right. And one just quick reminder that I really want you to choose, Ah, subculture that you are interested in to something you're already involved into. Something that you want to get involved in. Have wanted to get involved in for a while, Maybe, um, and just one last thing I want. I would like Tennant images at least 10 images. Take hundreds of images if you want. That is perfectly fine. I don't even want to know how maney images I took for my my life project. That that is a number I don't want to know. So feel free to take as many as you like, but I would really like to see at least 10. Okay, So good luck. Ask any questions you would like post in the community section. Um, just feel Frito, contact me. Message me on skill share. Whatever. I'm here for you. Okay. Good luck. I hope you do great. I know you'll do. Great. Thanks.