Work with a master documentary photographer and explore the subtle art of forging a strong connection with your subject.

Compelling documentary work demands a photographer's strong connection with his or her subject. In this course, Stella teaches students how to make that connection and develop a personal style of shooting. She works individually with photographers to help them determine and define their interests and ideas.

The workshop begins with an historical look at photographic documentary traditions and major practitioners. Students research local story ideas and learn new technical and visual skills essential to telling that story. Each day is spent photographing an area, segment of culture, or a person, depending on each student's documentary interests. Stella meets privately and in small groups each day to review and research images. She shares her professional experiences working on stories in remote destinations and what it takes to develop the strong relationships necessary to work on long-term projects.

Students may work with traditional film or digitally. Workshops' staff process film each night, providing contact sheets and prints.

Transportation is highly recommended for this workshop.


Stella Johnson

The work of acclaimed, Boston-based photographer Stella Johnson spans editorial, corporate and documentary genres. Grounded in her photography training at The San Francisco Art Institute and her advanced degree in journalism at Boston University's College of Communication, Stella has gone on to work extensively in both the U. S. and overseas. Major projects include a view book for the distinguished Riverdale Country Day School in New York, the annual report of LYCOS, and numerous brochures for investment banking firms and hospitals. Her work has appeared in US News & World Report, Parenting, Time and Fortune magazines and has been commissioned by such corporate entities as Fidelity Investments and BankBoston.

As a Fulbright Scholar to Mexico in 2003-2004, Stella photographed and supervised photography on the project, "Intangible Heritage of Mexico," directed by Anthropologist Lourdes Arizpe. The work will be published this year by the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

In 2006, Stella was a Fulbright Senior Specialist to Mexico, teaching documentary photography and visual anthropology at the Regional Center for Multidisciplinary Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, CRIM-UNAM, Cuernavaca, Morelos.

Major New England work includes two documentary projects on homelessness and one on midwifery. Other documentary projects include studies in urban development (for the Ford Foundation,) photo-essays on a Mennonite settlement in Norfolk, Connecticut, and the National Center of Afro-American Artists' annual performance of Langston Hughes' Black Nativity, both for Yankee Magazine.

Stella has traveled on assignment to Africa, South and Central America and Mexico. She has documented the progress of rural development programs in Mexico for the Ford Foundation, UNIFEM, and the Inter-American Foundation. For Continental Airlines she has photographed colonial architecture in Mexico, the ancient Mayan City of Tikal in Guatemala, and the tropical rainforests in Costa Rica. Stella has participated in two Earthwatch Institute projects: In Paraguay she documented anthropologists studying an endangered indigenous culture, and in Cameroon she recorded the attempt by medical personnel to eradicate intestinal parasites among nomadic Muslim tribes

Stella Johnson's personal work has been recognized by a New England Foundation for the Arts, Cultural Collaborative Artist-In-Residence Grant, and has been highlighted in dozens of shows. She is best known for her work in developing countries, where she has focused on the lives of women and their families. Her photographs of the Gbaya and Fulbe tribes are displayed in a permanent exhibition in Djohong, Cameroon. The work is showcased in the book, AL SOL. In photographs taken over a 15-year period, Stella documented the lives of two rural families living near Guanajuato and Oaxaca, Mexico, respectively, the Garifuna Culture and Miskito Indians on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua and the Cameroons. Magnum photographer Constantine Manos says of AL SOL, "In her photographs of Mexico, she is creating images, each of which is a poem."

Course Dates

Aug 2 to Aug 8



Class Size