Photographing in the Social Landscape

with Thomas Alleman

Online registration for this program has closed. To check availability, find out about future dates, or if you would like further information, please call 505-983-1400 ext. 111. Also, get the SFW E-Newsletter for updates!

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Course Description

Photographing in the Social Landscape is designed for participants who want to make photographs in public places, but not necessarily as street photographers. There are a great many ways to work in the world and an urban environment without photographing up-close to crowds and people like Henri Cartier Bresson, Garry Winogrand, or Alex Webb. One can emulate Stephen Shore, William Eggleston, or Lee Friedlander using the objects and the arrangements of public space to express ideas about chaos, color, and mass culture.

We start this online workshop with Thomas Alleman by investigating the social landscape itself—not as a physical location but as an idea about how the built environment ticks. How do people and cars and buildings interact with infrastructure, advertisers, city planners, figures of authority, and each other in the public sphere? How do photographers see the patterns and dances in this unique landscape, such that they can be photographed?

The lecture-titles that Thomas presents may suggest where this workshop is headed: Red Curbs, Neon, And Big Pictures: The Social Landscape Speaks to Us; Signs of Life: The Photographer Gathers Evidence; The Man and the Crowd: Heroes Traverse the Social Landscape; and The Urban Landscape: A Sense of Place. Throughout the four weeks, these weighty considerations are balanced by direct photo-talk in our image reviews, which also feature a constant trickle of insight and advice on camera technique, composition, and cropping.

Additional Information

Amateurs, Advanced Amateurs
What You Should Know:

Working knowledge of digital workflow and manual mode on your digital SLR or mirrorless camera. Participants must be able to download and select images using image editing software for class sessions.


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Thomas Alleman

Thomas Alleman was born and raised in Detroit and graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in English Literature. From that point onward he dedicated his attentions to photography. During a fifteen-year newspaper career, Tom was a frequent winner of distinctions from the National Press Photographer’s Association, as well as being named California Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1995 and Los Angeles Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1996. As a magazine freelancer, Tom’s pictures have been published regularly in Time, People, Business Week, Barrons, Smithsonian, and National Geographic Traveler.

Tom exhibited Social Studies, a series of street photographs, widely in Southern California. Sunshine & Noir, a book-length collection of black-and-white urban landscapes made in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles, had its solo debut at the Afterimage Gallery in Dallas in 2006. Subsequent solo exhibitions opened around the world, and most recently The Nature of the Beast debuted at the 515 Gallery in Los Angeles in 2021.

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