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Kent State’s Journalism School Creates Cell Phone Photography Class

Posted Nov. 19, 2012 | Olivia Arnette
enter photo description
David LaBelle, lecturer in the School of
Journalism and Mass Communication,
takes a photo with his cell phone. LaBelle
teaches a cell phone photography class.

It is unusual to find someone who does not have a cell phone these days. It is even more unusual to find a cell phone without a camera. Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication has a photojournalism program, as well as photography classes. So, why not create a class about cell phone photography?

“We started this as somewhat of an experiment to draw students outside of the journalism school into our program,” says David LaBelle, lecturer in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “It’s sort of a no-brainer to create a class where students don’t have to buy expensive equipment. Most people love photography and taking pictures.”

LaBelle helped create the class to teach the fundamentals of photography to Kent State students using only a cell phone.

The students learn about lighting, composition and stop-action. LaBelle also incorporates popular apps into his assignments.

“I press them to be a little more journalistic in their mindset,” says LaBelle. “This class isn’t what you think it is. It’s talking about the matters of life using a cell phone to record these moments and sharing them.”

The class also raises the issue of privacy and the impact photos can have on an individual. LaBelle says that we have lost the filter we once had. Google, Facebook, etc. has no filter because once a photo is out there, it is there forever, even if you delete it.

“I don’t know if there’s anything such as ‘private’ or ‘off the record’ anymore because of these devices,” LaBelle says. “These things allow us to record things we couldn’t. It probably makes you more careful and more accountable for your actions.”

“Cell phone photography is being looked at more seriously”, says Stefanie Moore, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “It has changed the way the public looks at citizen journalism.”

LaBelle says this is the First Amendment as its best because we as citizens have a right to say and publish as we see, and that the ethics of it is not easy to navigate.