P for photography

Part of the founding team of Paris Photo and co-founder of Focus, Matthieu Foss on prioritising a holistic approach towards teaching budding photographers

Published - January 25, 2018 09:37 pm IST

Photography, no longer just a hobby, is now a serious career choice for a growing number of enthusiasts, whether it’s budding photographers or professionals in other fields hoping to make a career switch. Often, one feels lost about where to begin, when considering an education in the field that will provide not just a namesake degree but help one to actually understand the medium through its various facets. Most Indian courses in photography are either tough to discover, hidden as they are, under the bigger overarching umbrellas of mass communications degrees and diplomas or part-time courses, that focus on the technical know-how and leave out essential components of learning like the history of photography and critical analysis of images and content.

The Ecole Intuit Lab (EIL) at Prabhadevi, a French design and visual communications institute co-founded by advertising stalwart Ravi Deshpande, offers new part-time (starting March 2018) and full-time (one year diploma, starting July 2018) courses in photography designed to cover the lacuna in the field. The faculty includes well-known names in the field like Jeroo Mulla, former Head of Department at the Social Communications Media course, Sophia Polytechnic; Chirodeep Chaudhuri, former Photo Editor for Nat Geo , India; Srinivas Kuruganti, ex-Photo Editor Caravan , Bharat Ramamrutham, architectural photographer, publisher, P. Madhavan (Goa Cap and Asia Photography Archive) and emerging practitioners like Anurag Banerjee and Kunal Kampani.

Matthieu Foss, director of the photography programme at EIL and also the co-founder of the city’s Focus Photography Festival, tells The Hindu , how these new courses will help fill the learning gap and why aspirants should be excited about applying here.

How did the idea to start a photography course come about?

I started working in India back in 2005, [and] I was always surprised to hear from most of the photographers I encountered that they were either self taught or had studied abroad. Very few local universities offered photography courses and if they did, they were treated as an optional elective rather than something to build a career on. There were a few other schools, prioritising commercial aspects of photography. Ravi Deshpande, director of EIL approached me last year, saying that the next step for their visual communication institute was to offer a full-time photography programme. We started working on conceptualising a comprehensive curriculum that would emphasise on personal artistic growth, along with providing the essential tools.

Do you feel there is a need for a good photo course in Mumbai or India?

Now more than ever, because of the constant mutation of the photographic medium itself, aspiring photographers need to have guidance not only to understand the wide spectrum of offers in the photography market, but also to explore their own creative input. The faculty at EIL is composed of a unique set of passionate professionals, each acclaimed in their own field. This provides a distinctive backdrop for students to become confident with their work and to find their visual signature.

Could you elaborate a bit on the connection between design and photography in your course and why it might be important?

Graphic designers and photographers are often required to work together but seldom speak the same language. For this reason, Ravi Deshpande was extremely keen that we include crucial elements of design in the photography programme in order to facilitate collaborations and seamless interaction between the two. The programme offers insights on topics like graphic design, lettering and typography, branding as well as semiotics.

Could you tell us more about the teaching faculty and what did you have in mind when you approached them?

The faculty was approached because of their accomplishments in their respective fields, for their passion and progressive views toward the medium along with their capacity to be mentors for aspiring photographers. Although the main curriculum is tightly put together, the classes aren’t textbook based. This follows a philosophy of education through hands-on, work-like situations, in order to allow more in class flexibility, as well as to prepare students for the real world. In addition, one of the classes titled ‘Practices’ will consist of weekly talks and workshops by visiting professionals such as fashion photographers or editors, curators, writers, agents, artistic directors, etc.

More details at ecole-intuit-lab.co.in

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