Courses

A major in Photojournalism requires 45 semester hours and leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree. The classes below are offered within the Photojournalism program. A degree within this major requires other coursework within the School of Journalism & Broadcasting as well as a declared minor outside the school and Colonnade requirements. A complete list of all required courses can be viewed on the WKU website. A four-year plan for graduation from Western Kentucky University is also available.


PJ131   |   Introduction to Digital Photography

[3 hours   |   This course does not qualify for PJ major or minor credit]

This course is designed to introduce non-photojournalism majors and minors to the processes and aesthetic values of digital photography, including light, composition, content and journalistic ethics. The class is a mixture of lecture followed by hands-on practice and public critique of the student’s work. It is required to have a point-and-shoot or digital SLR camera. Camera phones are not accepted for completion of this course.

EXAMPLES OF STUDENT WORK in PJ131
Self-portrait assignment
Self-portrait assignment
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PJ231   |   Introduction to Photojournalism

[3 hours   |   students seeking PJ as a major or minor can take this class their first semester of their freshman year]

This course is designed to introduce the photojournalism major (and minor) to two significant photojournalism concepts. First, the student will learn the craft and skill needed to operate a digital SLR camera to create technically proficient images. Second, students will learn to interact within the community to find, develop and execute great images that tell stories. Class time will be spent critiquing student’s work and giving each other feedback to improve the craft and produce better work with each assignment. A digital SLR camera with removable lens is required.


PJ233   |   Intermediate Photojournalism

[3 hours   |   PJ231 prerequisite]

Building on the skills and theories from Introduction to Photojournalism, students will produce documentary images that tell complex stories under various practical settings of journalistic inquiry, working on tighter deadlines and towards a higher level of expected results. Students will advance their knowledge on complicated mechanical camera technique and increase their personal photographic vision and portfolio development.


PJ261   |   Multimedia for non-majors

[3 hours   |   PJ131 prerequisite for non-majors   |   PJ231 prerequisite for majors]

This course is designed for mobile based media, exploring journalistic storytelling on the Web and other forms of electronic communication using photographs, words, audio, video, screen design, and navigation. Weekly assignments require transportation, smart phone, audio recording device, and external hard drive.


PJ330   |   Introduction to Short Form Documentary

[3 hours   |   PJ233 prerequisite]

This course continues a students’ education of visual storytelling with their camera by adding the component of audio and video storytelling to their base knowledge. Students will discover the basic foundations and building blocks for video narrative, including story structure, character development and story arc as well as the foundation of DSLR video skills. Students will continue to work in the public sphere, finding powerful stories that can be told with audio, video and still images.

EXAMPLES OF STUDENT WORK in PJ330
Losing Yourself in Motherhood
By Lydia Schweickart | 2017
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PJ333   |   Lighting Technologies

[3 hours   |   PJ233 prerequisite] 

This class is intended to cover a variety of technical aspects of lighting including artificial lighting on location and in the studio. It should expand the students’ understanding of how light is an integral part of successful images. Students will pursue portraits and stories in a journalistic style that will address important issues and topics that allow better understanding of diversity. Topics will include perspectives that are inclusive in terms of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation using lighting and portrait techniques.

EXAMPLES OF STUDENT WORK in PJ333
Location Fashion
Location Fashion
Kristen Carver wears an oversized studded leather belt over a classic sleeveless cut dress with a split neck. Multiple small gold bracelets and gold trimmed leopard print high heels bring the whole outfit together. Photo by Eric Bateman
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PJ334   |   Picture Stories

[3 hours   |   PJ333 prerequisite]

This course allows students to delve much deeper into the search for visual stories based on topic provided every other week. Students will learn to find stories based on topics that have excellent visual storytelling possibilities and learn to edit these stories into effective series to communicate to audiences both in print and on the web. Students will continue to practice the use of audio in the storytelling reporting process.

EXAMPLES OF STUDENT WORK in PJ334
Love you forever | Srijita Chattopadhyay | 2016
Love you forever | Srijita Chattopadhyay | 2016
Melanie Hack, 38, embraces her younger daughter Zoey, 3, near Reagan’s grave at Monroe County Memorial Lawn in Tompkinsville, Kentucky. While other mother’s buy Christmas gifts for their children, Melanie buys ornaments and flowers to decorate her daughter’s grave.
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Reagan Carter was a typical 12-year-old. She was popular, had friends and always had a smile on her face. Melanie Hack was a proud mother and Reagan meant the world to her. In the fall of 2014, a group of girls in her middle school began cyber-bullying Reagan making snide comments online.

As the months went by the bullying became more aggressive, with intimidating looks and threatening gestures. After learning about the harassment Reagan was facing, Melanie approached the school principal and implored him to do something about the situation. Melanie says her concerns were brushed off every single time. Melanie, and Reagan’s father, Jimmy Carter, decided that it would be best to transfer Reagan to a different school district in January 2015.

In mid-December, Melanie picked up Reagan from her last school ballgame and they returned home. Reagan took her things and went to her room. By 8:30 that night Reagan came to her mom requesting that she take her to the hospital. Concerned, Melanie asked what was wrong. Reagan confessed that she had taken an overdose of prescription cough suppressant pills that can cause a considerable decline in heart rate. Moments later Reagan collapsed and was pronounced brain dead on December 23, 2014.

“I am tired of everyone hating me,” were her last words to her mother. Melanie recalls every second of that evening, constantly wondering if there was anything she could have done to save her daughter. “I still feel with every bit of my heart that she didn’t mean to die,” Melanie says, “because she thought her mama could save her. But, I couldn’t. I couldn’t save her.”


PJ390   |   Photography History and Culture

[3 hours   |   elective for PJ majors   |   required for PJ minors]

Students will gain an understanding of the impact of the photographic image in different media, how photography has played a significant role in recording history since the 19th Century, and how the evolution of visual media has changed our perception of the world.


PJ433   |   Advanced Short Form Documentary

[3 hours   |   PJ334 prerequisite]]

A web-based narrative course involving bi-weekly assignments using video, audio, and photojournalism. Students will engage intensively with the community collecting content for short form narrative productions that uncover emotion and truth. The class advances production and editing skills as well as hone their narrative structure for telling video stories in an enticing and cinematic manner.

EXAMPLES OF STUDENT WORK in PJ433
Sanctuary: by Srijita Chattopadhyay
By Srijita Chattopadhyay | 2017
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 PJ436   |   Projects in Photojournalism

[3 hours   |   PJ433 prerequisite]

Students will engage in a semester-long project of their choosing using video, stills or interactive as the medium. Students will write story proposals, consider grant opportunities and work through a series of pre-determined deadlines to complete the project. The class has three-major screening sessions where peers, faculty and working professionals get a chance to critique the student’s work.

EXAMPLES OF STUDENT WORK in PJ436
The Cost of Bats | By Justin Gilliland and Brittany Moore | 2017
The Cost of Bats | By Justin Gilliland and Brittany Moore | 2017
Bedded rock layers gave way to water that dripped down the earthy limestone rock, covered in thick green moss, and created a muddy floor below. The drops echoed in the deep depression of earth, created by the sinkhole that exposed the mouth of the historic entrance of Mammoth Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park. Brown leaves dangle from rock crevices and concrete steps make up a staircase that leads its visitors into the damp darkness of the underground world.Slipping deeper into the cave, traversing through sinuous passageways, bats cling to the rocky walls and nestle in small roosts. This cave as well as many others in the park provides ideal locations for Kentucky bats to hibernate during winter months.Steve Thomas, the monitoring program leader for the Cumberland Piedmont Network, and his crew, outfitted in helmets, headlamps and gloves, worked their way through Bat Avenue – a passage in Mammoth Cave once teeming with bats.
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Follow the full stories here: The Cost of Bats, Tough Love and Prearranged.


PJ439   |   Advanced Studio Lighting Techniques

[3 hours   |   Elective for PJ majors   |   PJ333 prerequisite]

Techniques applied to portrait and still-life assignments. Advanced interviewing techniques for portrait work. The business of a working studio will be explored. Final project includes a portfolio and business plan.