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Photography in France

West Virginia University’s GPS-Photography in France course is a Spring semester field course that explores the landscape and culture of France. Daily excursions exploring this stunning region are complemented by digital work sessions, critiques of work in progress, lectures and numerous gallery/museum visits. Lectures and demonstrations will cover basic camera operations, beginning to advanced Adobe software techniques, alternative camera use, mixed media processes and more. In addition, students will learn about the discovery and invention of photography in France in the 19th century and the important figures associated with the movement. There will also be three pre-departure meetings before traveling to France and two meetings after returning to process and edit your photos. The program is limited in size to ensure a close working relationship with the faculty and a significant amount of one-on-one attention.

The course covers a broad range of photographic practices and principles with an emphasis on instruction targeted to the individual level of the student. Primary instruction is done with digital SLR cameras, but students will also be exposed to 35mm film cameras, medium and large format film cameras, and mixed media and alternative processes. Throughout the ten-day course, students will be encouraged to experiment with various forms of image making, developing creative approaches to the medium in order to create unique individual expressions in response to space and place. Subject matter can vary from concepts that pertain to interpretation of the landscape, to intimate nature studies, to social documentary and portraiture. The locations visited during the course include major museums and historical sites throughout the city of Paris, the coastal village of Honfleur, France, the D-Day beaches of Normandy, the spiritually significant island of Mont St-Michel, the fertile landscape and opulent chateau of the Loire Valley, and a variety of neighboring locations. In addition, readings and discussions on the significant history, culture and environment of the regions we will be visiting will add to the students’ exploration of a new geography.


This course is open to all School of Art and Design majors. To participate in this course, students must have completed ARHS 375/575 Nineteenth Century Art History course.

Faculty Contact

Michael Sherwin, Associate Professor of Art