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Photo ethnography class offered at the Vermont Folklore Center

MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont Folklife Center on Saturday, July 20, will host “Photo-Ethnography: A Lens on Community Culture,” taught by photographer Ned Castle. The workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be held at the Vermont Folklife Center’s headquarters in Middlebury.
Photography is a tool for both exploring the world and expressing something meaningful about that exploration. When approached from an ethnographic perspective, photography is a powerful resource for collaborative engagement with individuals and communities interested in presenting, documenting and understanding their cultural practices. Intended for students, community members, staff members of nonprofit cultural, community, and social-service agencies, as well as professional researchers interested in learning more about digital photography technique and its use in ethnography, this workshop will provide instruction in the technical aspects of photography and examine the role of the camera as a window though which the researcher views the world. Instruction in basic to advanced photographic techniques will be merged with ethnographic field research concepts. Workshop attendees will learn how to engage their surroundings consciously, thoughtfully and photographically — in that order. Hands-on experience will be provided as attendees conduct their own “photo-ethnographic” documentary projects. There will also be time for reflection and critique of student work.
Castle, director of development at the Vermont Folklife Center, is an accomplished photographer whose work focuses on documentary and ethnographic subject matter. Past projects include “In Their Own Words,” a collection of stories from refugees resettled in Vermont; “Indigenous Expressions,” comprising portraits of native peoples from the Lake Champlain Basin; and most recently “The HIGHLOW Project,” which recently toured the state. Castle attended photography school in Florence, Italy, and New York City, and is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in biology and psychology.
“Photo-Ethnography: A Lens on Community Culture” is a part of the Vermont Folklife Center’s Cultural Sustainability Institute workshop series (hwww.vermontfolklifecenter.org/education/cultural-sustainability/). Cultural sustainability provides a framework for examining human experience in the present, with an awareness of the past and a view toward the future.
This workshop is limited to 14 participants and the registration deadline is July 17. Registration forms and tuition information are available on line at www.vermontfolklifecenter.org or by calling (802) 388-4964. All classes are held in the Vermont Folklife Center building at 88 Main St. in downtown Middlebury.

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