Course: Genres of Photography with David Bate

11 Sep 2018 – 30 Oct 2018

Regular hours

11:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 19:00

Cost of entry

£220 / £200 concessions

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The Photographers' Gallery

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Just off Oxford Street so accessible by bus services to Oxford Street and a 2 minute walk from Oxford Circus Tube Station.
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Writer and photographer David Bate leads a weekly lecture and workshop exploring the many ‘genres’ of photography, expanding upon an understanding of the discipline as an art-form.


Genres of Photography looks at the way different photographic genres establish and allow for certain types of effect, emotion and meaning. Participants will learn to consider the photographic image as a set of distinct practices, but also how through the blurring of their boundaries the photograph and our understanding of it can be shaped or changed. The resilience or flexibility of photography shows a fundamental relation to what we might call ‘reality’ and an enduring relevance to all human culture.

Each week we will look at a range of visual examples and issues raised by the considered genre followed by group discussion, where participants are invited to bring their own photographs to reflect upon in the session. The course will draw on a range of literature and references relevant to the topics and session themes that will enable participants to further develop their own research on these topics.

This course is aimed at those wanting to develop a broader knowledge of the different approaches to and uses of photography, as well as those wanting to refresh or reinterpret their current understanding of the practice.

Course Outline

Week 1. Introduction: Genres and Photography Theory

A way of thinking about different types of photography - whether they are analogue/digital, commercial/personal/art and so on. While the internet functions as a ‘mash-up’ of these forms, innovating new kinds of genres (e.g. videographic practices) we are still able to identify their roots in kinds of seeing already visible in photography.

Week 2. Portraiture

The image of the self and other, techniques of the ideal, meanings and ends: the face, body, figure, gesture and pose.

Week 3. Landscape

Scenography and the ‘scape’: topography, visuality, drones, space and aesthetic pleasure. We consider landscape as a psychological space of cultural identity and difference, including ecological visions of the future or present. 

Week 4. Still Life

The neglected ‘low’ genre, the philosophical object, the fetish, the feast, the food of plenty and nothingness.

Week 5. Documentary

The cultural form of photography that will not go away The drive towards the depiction of ‘everyday life’; crisis and disaster, conflict and excess, old and new forms and subject matter. We explore the processes of observation, witnessing, inventing and staging.

Week 6. Snapshots, Family and Art

The role of the commonplace ‘instant’ of family or domestic life image as it is re-configured within art. The accompanying notions of intimacy, privacy and publicity that are ironically reconfigured on the matrix sites of Instagram, Facebook and other online platforms are also considered.

Week 7. Exhibitions and Photobooks

We consider different formats of presentation that have been involved in reformulating the relations between images (e.g. the ‘sentence-image’), types of image arrangement and its various concerns.

Week 8. Conceptualist and Avant-garde Practice

Installation, performance, critical montage, surrealism and image-text formations provide a twentieth century backdrop to contemporary innovations in photographic practice. This last session looks back and forward towards the recent critical practices based in machinic subjectivities.

David Bate is known internationally for his work on photography, visual arts history, theory and culture. He is Professor of Photography, supervising PhD work and teaching on the MA Photography Arts programme, University of Westminster. He is also an editor of the international photography theory journal Photographies started in 2008. His book Photography: The Key Concepts provides a comprehensive study that considers the place of photography in society, within photographic practice, visual culture, art, media and cultural studies.

Please note this course has been rescheduled from April 2018 due to unforeseen circumstances.

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David Bate


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