If FSA Today…

Teen Documentary Photography Workshop

The FSA (Farm Security Administration) government-run photography project was developed to document lifestyle and technology of the 1930s and to promote awareness of the economic impact on rural and urban communities during the Dustbowl and Great Depression of this period. This workshop, If FSA Today…, attempted to ask DeKalb area youth what images of today might best describe our era to generations in the future.

High school students were invited to participate in a free two-day intensive small-group photography workshop in response to the exhibition “This Great Nation Will Endure: Photographs of the Great Depression.” The workshop introduced the students to the FSA project, its photographers and their documentary photographs. The students examined the FSA work to learn from its formal design strengths, discover the social concepts of the era, and to discuss ethics and the nature of documentary. 

Following FSA coordinator Roy Styker’s lead, the workshop participants developed a modern shoot list and then went on photo shoots in downtown DeKalb to seek a current view of the “urban” environment and to two local farms to document the current “rural” scene as well as on their own into their communities during the week between sessions.  Students went through an intensive editing process in the computer lab to narrow down their hundreds of images to this select group.

In addition to having their work on display at the Museum, a web page (under construction) will contain all of the students’ workshop images and their complete image records will be donated to the Regional History Center and University Archives so that these youth may leave their impressions for future scholars to explore.

More about the workshop Photo Shoot List Gallery of Images