Q. What are the expectations of your students?
The students at the AJK MCRC Jamia are usually savvy with technology but they lack Knowledge of visual theory and culture. Most students are always more Keen to pick up technique as they feel that this would make them more employable.
Our primary challenge as teachers then is to supplement practice with thought; through conceptual, creative and pedagogical inputs. Practical training is accompanied by an exposure to a range of innovative working practices. This could include documentary, experimental, performative and other hybrid forms of telling stories. We do this through readings, assignments and presentations to add to their understanding and choice of visual practice. Students who study photography and audio-visual production also study cinema. Therefore their course in media and cultural studies introduces them to interdisciplinary theory and debates around both the still as well as the moving image.
There is a special module in photography studies, which includes photo history, as well as discussions about archives, memory and the circulation of the photograph. In the future we would be introducing a module in New Media that would include photography as part of multi media platforms.
Q. What is the preferred model of teaching and what would students do after completing the course?
Teaching ranges from a classroom lecture mode where that teacher may talk, discuss and demonstrate to a fairly loaded emphasis on practical work in the field as well as the studio.
Students are Keen to do independent work once they graduate. They are most attracted to the documentary but often have to earn a livelihood through online or magazine-based work that includes glamour, fashion, advertising (food) and online sales. Wedding photography in particular has been very attractive as it pays well.
Q. Does the course reflect social changes and how?
The founders of the MCRC believed that the centre should maintain dynamic links with the industry while remaining skeptical of it. Most importantly, it was desired, that the students should be engaged with socio-political issues and be driven by a passion for social change and justice. This is at times a challenge as students try to negotiate the consumer driven demands of the industry (the huge budgets for wedding photography being a case in point) with creativity. It is a struggle, but we feel that an education in the field will ultimately make an intervention in the industry too. One example of this is the diverse kind of commercial cinema being produced today because of the entry of young scriptwriters. We hope that the same would eventually happen with photography.